The Road To South Point

South Point Road heads due south and leads to nowhere. Don't miss it. One of Hawaii's least traveled roads takes in 12 miles of scenery, hundreds of years of history, and leaves you standing on a cliff staring at a horizon which is vast and awe-inspiring.

South Point Road begins in a forested area on the flanks of Mauna Loa. For the first three miles or so, the only sights are the Christmas Berry trees blowing along with the pastureland grasses in the strong and steady Trade winds (always prevalent here). The road is one lane crumbling blacktop going straight as an arrow to the sea, which can be seen in the distance.

Along the way, you'll pass the wonderfully eerie "windfarm" area where huge Mitsubishi windmills crank out wind-powered energy. It's fun to stop along here and listen to the sound the 'mills make - you might imagine you hear almost-intelligible words humming in the air! This land is the home to the rare and endangered day-flying owl. It is not uncommon to see these small owls gliding about. They have an important place in Hawaiian story and legend, and seeing them is said to be auspicious.

Finally, you will reach South Point, the first mooring site of the ancient Polynesians who landed on the Big Island. These days it is also known as the "Southernmost Point of the U.S. of A." Don't worry, there are no signs proclaiming this fact!

The right fork in the road leads you to one of the most popular local fishing spots. Fisherman haul their catches up the cliffs by rope here, and there is a wonderful, huge blowhole nearby. (But be careful! Local legend tells of a family who parked their rental van next to the blow hole. Upon removing the baby from the child's seat, the wife slammed the door shut, and the vehicle popped into neutral, sending it down the blow hole!) Some brave locals jump off the landing where the ladder goes down, as well.

The fork to the left in the road leads to Green Sands Beach, which is composed of glistening green olivine crystals. Without 4 wheel drive there is a 3 mile hike each way to reach this novel site. (Although you may be approached with suggestions that you park your car in "secure" areas and pay a fee for "protection", the road and access is public. We haven't heard complaints about this in quite a while.)

Green Sands Beach...never crowded!
(Green Sands photo by Daniel Ryan)

Nestled between red eroded cliffs, the place almost reminds one of the Southwest (on the mainland, that is!). Its remoteness and beauty are unique in all the islands. South Point will definitely add to your appreciation of the diversity of our Big Island!

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