HAWAII — Ka´u

This is the area between South Kona and the Volcanoes National Park. It is a sparsely populated area that is prone to flooding and road closures during the winter storms. Here there are lava covered landscapes as well as lush groves of macadamia nuts and oranges.

The sights found here are:
Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling
Punalu´u
Whittington Beach Park
Wai´ohinu
South Point

Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling

Nechung Dorje Drayang Ling
This remote Buddhist temple and retreat centre is found a few kilometres from the small town of Pahala. It was built in 1902 by Japanese sugarcane labourers who lived in this area. It looks a little rundown but the setting is very peaceful and beautiful. You can stay for a few nights in the temple and if you are interested you can undertake programmes on Buddhist philosophy.
For information about the temple visit the website at: http://www.nechung.org

Traveller's Tip

There is a minimum stay of three nights to stay at the retreat and you can bring your own food to prepare in the kitchen which is available for the use of guests. If this isn’t suitable then there are places to eat in Pahala.
Punalu´u

Punalu´u
This small bay with its black sand beach was once a major settlement but people visit it now mainly because of the turtles that come and sunbake here. Punalu´u Beach Park which is found south of the bay is a popular nesting site for turtles so you must be careful on the beach if you see any. Only the northern end of the beach is calm enough for swimming as most of it has strong currents for most of the year. Camping is allowed at the campground found above the beach but permits are needed which you can get from the Division of State Parks.
For information about permits visit the following website at: http://www.hawaiistateparks.org/camping/hawaii.cfm

Whittington Beach Park

Whittington Beach Park
This beach park is found not far from Na´alehu which is a small town famous for being the southernmost town in the USA. There isn’t a beach here and swimming isn’t advisable because of the rough seas. There are a few tide pools to explore as well as fishing from the rocks if you are a keen angler but not much else. The waters around here are frequented by green sea turtles.

Wai´ohinu
This is a small village located in a very scenic valley. A famous landmark found here is the Mark Twain monkeypod tree which was planted by Mark Twain in 1866. There are a few places to stay and some places to eat but not much else but it does offer a more peaceful alternative to the larger towns in this region.

South Point

South Point
This is the southernmost spot in the USA and is an area of rocky coastal cliffs and rough seas and is very windy. Be aware that the roads in this area are not great and there are many dirt roads only suitable for 4WD vehicles. There is a wind farm here and you can see the windmills from the road. Around 16 kilometres along the South Point Road there is a fork and if you take the right one you will come to the cliffs of Ka Lae where you may see locals fishing. To reach the southernmost point walk down past the light beacon and continue along the wall. There isn’t a marker to show you where it is. Along the left fork of South Point Road is Green Sand Beach which is accessible only by 4WD or by hiking the 4 or so kilometres. The beach is named after the semi-precious olivine or peridot crystals that formed it. Make sure you choose a calm day as the beach can be invisible in high surf.

Traveller's Tip

The water that you see from the cliffs is just amazing with its deep blue colour and so clear that you can see through it to the coral bottom with fish swimming about.
  • Make sure you don’t miss the large hole in the lava rock behind the platforms built on the side of the cliffs for lowering boats. The tide comes into this hole quite spectacularly.