South Point Canoe Sail.
If you are actually travelling in the direction this
guide has led you then you should be heading south towards
the Kau region. If not then you obviously chose
a different direction which is fine because there are
not too many wrong turns in paradise unless its
late and youre hours from your hotel, with no
radio stations coming in and youre about to be
cut off by a river of molten lava. Dont laugh,
its happened, those footprints in the lava rock didnt
get placed their by someone on their way to the beach.
Wherever you are on the Big Island right now thats
fine youve probably learned to improvise in the
use of this guide. Congratulations youre brain
is still functioning even though youre on vacation
The actual place where Polynesians first stepped foot
in Hawaii will always remain a mystery, but it was probably
somewhere near the southern tip of the Big Island. This
area seems like a probable place because their approach
would have been from the south, where all of Polynesia
lay. When sailing north, the Big Island would be the
first island they would have seen, and South Point would
have been the nearest landfall. Aside from the logic
of such a choice, there is archaeological evidence supporting
the supposition of a landing near Ka Lae, as the Hawaiians
call the most southern tip of the island of Hawaii.
Excavation of lava tubes, that were used as shelters,
near Kailikii and Waiahukuni, villages four miles northwest
of the Ka Lae, indicate people were using them by A.D.750.
There is other evidence that indicates people first
were in the area as early as A.D. 200.
with haku and leis.
The cliff near South Point Park is a common mooring
place for modern day fishermen who find these waters
a rich resource. From the precipice the drop is about
forty feet to the oceans surface, but the cliff
base goes down another thirty feet below the surface
of the water. Ladders, hung to make access to the boats
easier, swing freely in the air just above the sea.
The cliff is deeply undercut. In the heat of the day
the water looks inviting. It is so clear the bottom
can be seen plainly. For some there might be a temptation
to leap into the cool water, and climb back up the ladder.
It looks inviting, but dont do it. A swift current
runs along the shore. The flow will carry anyone in
the water straight out to sea. It is called the Halaea
Current, named for a chief who was carried off to his
One of South Point's most famous scenic spots is Mahana
Beach, also called Green Sands Beach because it has
a distinctive golden green color. "The grains of
green sand are olivine (or call it peridot if you wish
although not much of the sand is truly of gem quality),
a common mineral in much of the Hawaiian basalt, and
as the basalt undergoes weathering the olivine becomes
concentrated on this beach due partly to its high specific
gravity." (They are apparent as green flecks in
the raw lava stones used to build the columns and walls
of the Jagger Museum at Kilaueas Volcano National
Park.) As lava reached the coast, erosional forces,
and the specific gravity of the stones, perhaps are
responsible for the accumulation of such a large quantity
of the granules that produced the green sand beach.
Up the coast from South Point's main hub of activity,
Naalehu town, and heading towards Volcanoes National
Park you will pass by Punalu'u black sand beach and
later a sign marking a road to Pahala. The short drive
to Pahala is worth the excursion. In it are the not
so active remains of the old Pahala Theater as well
as a community that is now supported by macadamia nut
farming as well as scores of small family owned coffee
farms now springing up in the plush hillsides. Although
the sugar industry is no longer operating there many
of the homes in the village date back to the early 20th
century including the two story plantation managers
home which is now a museum and is open to the public
for viewing. Pahala is a great place to gain perspective
into what life was like on a sugar plantation a hundred
years ago. Take time to also drive into the lush tropical
Wood Valley and past a Buddhist temple also located
near Pahala. Ask for specific directions to those sights
at the local general supermarket, there is only one.
Punaluu Black Sands Beach.
Giant wave at South Point.
Sea tutle on black sands