Vast, rural and remote, Hawaii Island’s southernmost region, Kau, seems almost untouched by civilization except around the small communities of Naalehu and Pahala. In this area you’ll discover things have moved along at a pace all their own.
Home to most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes, this is a place of natural wonders where you can witness the growth of the island right before your eyes. Other sights in Kau include Ka Lae, known as South Point, the southernmost point in the United States. Punaluu Black Sand Beach is one of Hawaii’s most well known black sand beaches. And in the upcountry Kau Desert within the boundaries of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park you’ll find footprints of long-ago warriors trapped in volcanic ash, a result of one of Kilauea’s rare explosive eruptions. Here taxing trails crisscross the land, from the mountains to the sea, tempting backpackers and hikers.
In contrast, on the eastern slopes of Kau, there are macadamia nut orchards, coffee farms and cattle. Wood Valley, near Pahala, is a place for meditation and respite from the outside world. No wonder Kau is home to not only Hawaiian families who have been here for generations, but also writers, artists, philosophers and others seeking solitude. Explore beyond Kilauea and get off the beaten path in Kau.