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South PointKa Lae

South Point

 

Round Trip Mileage: less than one mile

Elevation Gain: negligible

Gear: South Point is consistently windy, hot, and humid. If you're just exploring the area around Ka Lae, just bring what you need for a little dayhike.

Weather: NOAA forecast for Ka Lae

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Map: Topographical Map of Ka Lae

 

Overview: The southernmost point of the Big Island and the Hawaiian island chain (at least for the next few hundred thousand years until ʻihi Seamount rises above the ocean). It is consistently windy here as the trade winds wrap around the bottom of the island. Kalalea Heiau, likely dedicated to fishing, is in fairly good condition and is near Ka Lae. Ka Lae is said to be the first place the Hawaiian ancestors found when they originally came here from another Polynesian destination. Swimming in these extremely rough waters is inadvisable.

Windy South Point

 

Getting to the trailhead: On Hwy. 11 between the 69 and 70 mile markers, find the signed South Point road. Carefully drive this road for about eight miles, and stay right at the end where there is a sign indicating South Point. Parts of the road are one-way. This road used to be notoriously bad and verboten for some rental car companies, but it has been recently improved and is suitable to the parking area for any car. Park near the beacons and don't drive down to the coast.

South Point

 

The Hike: From the parking area near the beacons, simply walk around the area along the sea for as long as you wish. Most of the interesting sights are within a half mile of the parking area. Kalalea Heaiu is close to the parking area. This temple was likely dedicated to fishing. Look around the area for holes carved into large lava stones that were used as ancient canoe moorings. There are also carved salt pans.