How to Visit South Point, Hawaii: The Southernmost Point in the United States

South Point, Hawaii is at the southernmost tip of the Big Island. It’s the southernmost point in Hawaii, which also makes it the southernmost point in all of the 50 states (sorry, Key West).

South Point is worth a 15 to 30 minute stop when you visit nearby Green Sand Beach. There are a few small sights to see. You can also get some nice photos on a sunny day.

People who are braver than me can go cliff jumping, swimming, or snorkeling here. People equally as brave as me can drink a beer, sit back, and watch people do those things. There are some ancient Hawaiian ruins, and locals still fish here.

How to Get There

South Point is at the end of South Point Rd, which is 1.5 hours south of Kona or 1h45m south of Hilo. You drive down the highway, then turn right (from Kona) or left (from Hilo) at S Point Rd.

Your GPS/phone should have South Point in the database. If you can’t find it, then type in Papakolea Beach. That’s almost always there. Turn right into South Point just before you arrive at Papakolea Beach.

What to See

South Point is also known as Ka Lae. The area is registered as a US National Historic Landmark District (where it’s officially called South Point Complex).

Ka Lae, appropriately enough, means “the point” in Hawaiian.

Two water currents meet just off shore here: one from the east side of the Big island and another from the west side. This gives South Point infamously strong currents. The currents push you south, away from the island.

If you take a quick peek at Google Maps, you’ll notice there’s absolutely nothing south of South Point. If you get caught in the current, you will end up in Antarctica (or possibly Easter Island). And by “you”, I mean “your dead body”. Be careful swimming here.

If you want to go swimming, snorkeling, or cliff jumping, then you’ll see a wooden platform here with a rope attached. If you walk up to the ledge, you’ll also see a rickety ladder descending about 30 feet down to the ocean. That’s the swimming area.

In all seriousness, be careful here. Don’t jump into unfamiliar water. If you want to go snorkeling, then consider tying yourself to the ladder with a rope. It’s easy to let the current take you away.

Fishing is seriously good here (apparently). Despite the remote location, fishermen actually take time to come out here to fish. You’ll see empty bleach bottles in the water. Locals tie lines to the bottles, letting their lines drift into the water, then pulling them up when they get a bite from a red snapper or ulua fish.

If you don’t want to fish or swim, then you can walk around here. Take some photos. Walk down to the actual “southernmost point” of South Point (which is just past the diving platform area).

Take a close look: there are ancient Hawaiian archaeological sites here, including the ruins of a temple and a fishing shrine.

Watch for holes in the rock ledges around South Point: ancient Hawaiians tied their canoes to the shore using these holes. They look like this:

Conclusion: South Point, Hawaii Is Worth a Visit

South Point is worth a visit. While you’re here, take a trip to the nearby Green Sand Beach, which is just 2 minutes down the road (and a bumpy 20 minute truck ride after that). Read the Wandering Boozebag Green Sand Beach travel guide here.

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