Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017
Mission San Juan, December 30, 2017

Thursday, December 1, 2016

The Big Island of Hawaii: South Point - Tuesday, Nov. 29, 2016

One of our favorite places in Hawaii is South Point, the southernmost point in the United States. The special-ness of this place includes the lack of crowds, old fishing platforms, expansive peninsula with views of Mauna Loa and ocean cliffs. On any given day, the wind is blowing at a pretty good clip, the ocean is a spectacular blue, and the air is some of the freshest in the world, having just blown in across thousands of miles of ocean.

South Point, Na'alehu, Hawaii
Our day started slowly as Bob had some work to do and I was slow getting out the door. As we started our way south around the island from Kailua-Kona on Highway 11, we reveled in the lushness of the landscape. Poinsettia are in full bloom. Here poinsettia are large shrubs.

Poinsettia alongside Hwy. 11 -
the Mamalahoa Highway
Along the stretch of road south of Kona, the towns of Kealakekua, Holualoa, Captain Cook, and Honaunau make up the famous Kona Coffee Country. Multiple coffee farms and mills are located here. This is the time of year when coffee mills are purchasing "cherries," which is what fruits of the coffee plants are called before they are dried and turned into coffee "beans."

We continue driving through varying scenery...sometimes lush tropical foliage; other times, stark lava flows with little to no vegetation. Our goal is South Point, a place both of us find fascinating. 

We stop at a scenic overlook on the Ka'u Scenic Byway. "Scenic" is subjective. This stop is all about geology, Hawaiian history, kipuka, and South Point (Ka Lae). 

The lava flows in this area are quite old. Scattered throughout the lava are kipuka. Kipuka is the Hawaiian word for land left untouched by lava that flowed around it. Kipuka have islands of vegetation that survived the surrounding lava flows. 

Many historians believe the first Hawaiians, probably from the Marquesas, landed near Ka Lae as they arrived from the south in their ocean-going canoes. From an early settlement at Wai Ahukini here at South Point, the future King Kamehameha was involved in a war of succession.

View of South Point from Mamalahoa Hwy.
"Scenic" view of lava at the overlook
We've been to South Point before and have seen kayak fishermen haul their kayaks and fish up a 20-30' cliff using an old pulley system. Indubitably, at South Point, land-lubber fishermen will have their fishing lines out in the ocean. You can see big black plastic garbage bags tied to their lines. The garbage bags catch the wind and help carry their fishing lines out from shore.

Old fishing platforms, one with pulley for
hauling up kayaks and catches.

Fishermen line the cliffs
Never a shortage of beauty here!
Below is a close-up of the water run-off at the bottom of the cliffs.
Water rivulets are like little waterfalls
Bob chatted with these people from the Ukraine. You never know who you'll meet out here at the edge of the world. Next landfall to the south is Antarctica.

Us at South Point
The cliffs at South Point  are about 20-30' tall. A few years ago when we were at South Point, a number of people were jumping off the cliffs into the water below. Bob loves to do this, so he joined them. I was a nervous wreck, thinking he would harm himself, especially since he had been complaining of back pain. He said he felt better after jumping into the ocean. Who can predict these things?
Signs are there for a reason.
View of windmills on the way back to main highway.
Line-up of horses by the road
A couple of colts in the group

Back on the Mamalahoa Highway we headed to the small town of Na'alehu which is known for three things: 1) it's the gateway town for South Point; 2) it is home of the Punalu'u Bakery, and 3) there's a big monkeypod tree, the seed of which was planted by Mark Twain.

The Punalu'u Bakery is a favorite stop of ours when we come around the southeast side of the island. It calls our name and we answer the call. Contained within are all manner of good grindz: delectable baked goods, sandwiches, coffee, breads and ice cream (something for everyone!).

"Southernmost Bakery in the USA!"
Great choices for our snack.
We ate our snacks in the gazebo on the left.
When we finished eating, we continued on Hwy. 11 toward Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park. Mauna Loa was visible all the way to the summit today, so we stopped for a photo of it. Mauna Loa is the largest volcano in the world. The highest point on Mauna Loa is 13,680' ft. above sea level. The flanks of Mauna Loa continue another 16,400 ft. below sea level to the sea floor. The massive central portion of the volcano has depressed the sea floor an additional 26,000 ft. in the shape of an inverted cone. Thus, the total relief of Mauna Loa from its true base to its summit is 56,000 ft! 

Mauna Loa visible to the summit
From sea level, the road climbs up the flank of another mountain (Kilauea) to the summit at 4,000 ft. This is where all the excitement is. Kilauea is a very active volcano!

Stay tuned for Part 2 of the Big Island: Standing in a Volcano.


  1. I love that the Big Island has so many diverse areas. One year I hiked down to the green sand beach near south point!

    1. Hans, How did you like Green Sand Beach? We haven't hiked there...yet. It's still on our bucket list. Seems we never make time for it on a day we schedule going to Hawaii Volcanoes N.P.

  2. They were still diving off that cliff last year. We took a local truck for a few dollars to the Green sand beach - and it was green sand. Hiked down and into the water. try it next time. The truck took us back to the parking lot. Gave us about an hour there which was satisfactory. We love the Guava and Taro bread @ Punalu'u. Your posts bring back lovely memories as we sit in East TX.


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