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Ka Lae (South Point), Hawaii's Big Island

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Quick Facts

  • Name: Ka Lae (South Point)
     
  • What: Southernmost tip in the US
     
  • Where: Southernmost tip of Hawaii’s Big Island

Kau

Travel to the southern cliffs of Hawaii's Big Island in the Kau region and gaze out at the endless Pacific Ocean. Can you believe there’s nothing but deep-blue ocean between the spot you’re standing on and Antarctica? That’s because you're at Ka Lae, also known as South Point or simply “The Point,” the southernmost point in the United States.

It is believed that the first Polynesians to arrive in the Hawaiian Islands disembarked here at Ka Lae somewhere between 400 and 800 AD. With the ruins of heiau (temples), fishing shrines and other cultural vestiges found here it is no wonder that this entire southern tip has been registered as a National Historical Landmark.

The offshore currents and winds are notoriously powerful here and mariners, from the first Polynesians to today’s locals, have devised clever ways of plying the rich fishing grounds without being swept away. For instance, you’ll find rock loops carved through the lava here that tied off fishing canoes hundreds of years ago. Today, shoreline fishermen use toy boats to haul their lines into deep water or large metal boat hoists and ladders to launch small watercraft. The actual point is a short walk away in front of the black-and-white light beacon, where there are no cliffs.

To get to this rocky shoreline you need to take the narrow South Point Road, 19 kilometres through open ranch lands lined with white windmills. There is a small heiau (sacred place of worship) near Ka Lae so visitors should treat the area with great respect. Because of the dangerous currents here, swimming is not advised.