Kau, Island of Hawaii | Go Hawaii

Kau

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Kau

Vast, rural and remote, the island of Hawaii’s southernmost region, Kau, is a quiet area free of large hotels, resorts and golf courses. It’s home to the small communities of Naalehu and Pahala, and one of the most famous beaches in the state—Punaluu Black Sand Beach.

Kau is also home to most of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park and Kilauea, one of the world’s most active volcanoes. It’s a place of natural wonders where you can witness the growth of the island right before your eyes. Other sights in Kau include Kalae, known as South Point, the southernmost point in the United States, and Kau Desert, which is on southwest edge of Kilauea. Here you’ll find footprints of warriors who were trapped in volcanic ash long ago — a result of one of Kilauea’s rare explosive eruptions. This area is also popular among backpackers and hikers, as taxing trails crisscross the land from the mountains to the sea.

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. It’s 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.

Regions of Island of Hawaii

Island of Hawaii
Hamakua Heritage Corridor
Take a memorable drive from Hilo to the Waipio Valley Lookout to see scenic overlooks, waterfalls, botanical gardens and small towns. 
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Honokaa
This friendly, small town is the gateway to the Waipio Valley, and home to cute local shops and restaurants.
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Waipio Valley Lookout
Located on the northern Hamakua Coast, the sacred Waipio Valley was the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I and an important center for political and religious life in Hawaii. 
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Hilo Farmers Market
The Hilo Farmers Market is one of the best open markets in Hawaii, featuring fresh fruit, vegetables, plants and local crafts.
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Liliuokalani Gardens
Liliuokalani Gardens is a beautifully landscaped, 30-acre Japanese garden featuring fishponds, pagodas and rock gardens.
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Akaka Falls State Park
Akaka Falls State Park features two amazing waterfalls, Akaka Falls (442 feet) and Kahuna Falls (100 feet). 
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Downtown Hilo
Downtown Hilo is the island of Hawaii's biggest small town, featuring centuries-old wooden storefronts—many of which are on the National Register of Historic Places—housing a variety of sophisticated galleries, shops, restaurants and cultural sites.
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Wailuku River State Park
If you’re looking for a waterfall near Downtown Hilo, take a short drive west on Waianuene Avenue to Wailuku River State Park.
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Punaluu Black Sand Beach
This famous black sand beach is a great photo opportunity and is almost as popular with honu (green sea turtles) as it is with visitors.
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Kalae (South Point)
The southern-most point in the Hawaiian Islands (and the United States) offers beautiful ocean views.
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One of the state’s most famous attractions is a testament to the power of nature and a rare opportunity to see an active volcano.
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Puukohola Heiau National Historic Site
Part of the National Park System, this historic site is home to one of the largest and last heiau (temple) built in Hawaii.
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Puako Petroglyph Archeological Preserve
The Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve is one of the most extensive petroglyph fields in Hawaii.
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Hapuna Beach
Hapuna Beach on the Kohala Coast is one of the largest white sand beaches on the island of Hawaii.
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Pololu Valley Lookout
The Pololu Valley Lookout offers a breathtaking view overlooking Pololu Valley, a black sand beach and the northeastern coastline.
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Puuhonua o Honaunau National Historical Park
Visit Puuhonua o Honaunau and learn about early Hawaiian history at this National Historic Park, historic place of refuge and former royal grounds.
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Keauhou
The Keauhou resort area, just south of Historic Kailua Village in Kona, is where you can often spot manta rays and honu (Hawaiian green sea turtles).
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Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona)
Historic Kailua Village is a lively seaside town in the heart of Kona home to shopping, dining and important historic sites.
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Hulihee Palace
Travel back to the days of the Hawaiian monarchy at Hulihee Palace, located right on Alii Drive in the heart of Historic Kailua Village (Kailua-Kona).
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Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park
Just south of Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport, is Kaloko-Honokohau National Historical Park. Explore this coastal park and discover how an early Hawaiian settlement survived on the rugged Kona coast.
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Lava Tree State Park
This seven-acre State Monument is home to unusual lava tree structures that rise up out of the ground.
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Volcano Village
Visit this charming artist community located five minutes from Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
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Kalapana
Once a historic town partially destroyed by lava, now a lava viewing area on the southeastern coast of the island of Hawaii.
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Hamakua Coast
Onomea Bay on the Hamakua Coast on the island of Hawaii
If you’re driving along the Hamakua Coast be sure to stop to explore some of its hidden gems, including taro farms, black sand beaches, splendid waterfalls and more.
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Hilo
Scenic view of the Hilo coast on the island of Hawaii
The perfect place to explore local shops, a famous farmers market, beautiful beaches and dramatic waterfalls.
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Puna
Lava Trees State Park in Puna on the island of Hawaii
See dramatic features such as lava trees and molds at Lava Trees State Park and swim in volcanically heated tide pools.
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Kau
Punaluu Black Sand Beach in Kau on the island of Hawaii
See an active volcano at Hawaii Volcanoes National park and learn how the Hawaiian Islands were formed.
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Kona
Crystal clear beaches in Kona on the island of Hawaii
Bright blue water, abundant resorts, coffee tastings, and unique historical and cultural landmarks — your options are plentiful.
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Kohala
Hapuna Beach State Park in Kohala on the island of Hawaii
The island of Hawaii is often called the “Golf Capital of Hawaii” because of the renowned courses found along the Kohala Coast.
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Kau Highlights

Punaluu Black Sand Beach

Punaluu Black Sand Beach

This famous black sand beach is a great photo opportunity and is almost as popular with honu (green sea turtles) as it is with visitors.

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Kalae (South Point)

Kalae (South Point)

The southern-most point in the Hawaiian Islands (and the United States) offers beautiful ocean views.

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Hawaii Volcanoes National Park

One of the state’s most famous attractions is a testament to the power of nature and a rare opportunity to see an active volcano.

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Travel Pono Pledge

One’s love for the planet is an inseverable relationship. Please take the island of Hawaii Pono Pledge and ask your friends and family to do the same.

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