South Point is the southernmost part of the United States and is located in the district of Ka'u between Kona and Volcano on the Big Island of Hawaii. South Point is one of the most remote and beautiful drives on the Big Island, an easy day trip to and from Kona. If you are driving to the East side of Hawaii to visit Hilo or Volcano, take time to stop and look around the South Point area, or better yet, stay in the area awhile in one of the many B&Bs.
This a photo tour of driving Highway 11, also called Hawaii Belt Road, from Kona-Kailua to South Point. The turn off to South point road is located between marker 69 and 70 on Hwy 11. It is a single lane road sometimes with lots of traffic. The road goes out to the end of the point which is a mooring place for boats that local fisherman use. The water there is very clear but not safe to swim in due to swift currents.
Kailua-Kona to Captain Cook
Hwy 11, also called the Mamalahoa Highway, starts in Kailua-Kona (a town which most people refer to as Kona even though "Kona" is actually the name for the coastal area from the Kona airport to south of Captain Cook). The traffic in this area can be completely jammed up during rush hour, because of the workers that commute to Kona from the south, so plan your trip so you miss rush hour. The 10 miles between Kailua and Captain Cook have many tiny towns, like Kainaliu, with shops, cafes, and theaters. The Kona Historical society and musuem and Aloha Theater are located in this section of road. At Captain Cook you can take Napo'opo'o Road down to Kealakekua Bay and see the Captain Cook monument in the middle of the Bay, but that is whole other day trip.
At Ohi'a Mill near the Miloli'o Beach turnoff, Hwy 11 leaves the Kona district and enters Ka'u district (the district with South Point). The road goes through Macademia nut farms and past Maunka State Park where it curves left heading towards the East.
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After Manuka state park (which is a good place for a pit stop) is Ocean View where there are grocery stores, restaurants and stores. Ocean view is a growing residential area with numerous subdivisions including HOVE (Hawaiian Ocean View Estates, HOVR (Hawaiian Ocean View Ranchos), Kula Kai View Estates, Kona Gardens, Kona View Estates and others. HOVE consists of over 10,000 one acre lots on the mountain side (mauka) of Hwy 11. Many of the lots are lava, like the picture below. Elevation at the Hwy 11 is 1,500 feet and HOVE rises up Mauna Kea to over the 5,000 foot level.
Across Hwy 11 from HOVE, on the ocean side (makai), is Hawaiian Ocean View Ranchos (HOVR) which consists of over 1,200 three acre lots that are lower than the highway, many with unobstructed 180 degree views of the coast line and Southpoint.
Other makai subdivisions near HOVR, like Kula Kai, also have 3 acre view lots and several have controlled access to the lots to increase security. This area is one of the most affordable place to buy property in Hawaii, but it is remote requiring a long drive to Kona or Hilo to get to major shopping or a job.
>Ocean View Town center on the mountain (mauka) side of Hwy 11 has the Ocean View Pizzaria, Kahuku Country market, the Anuenue natural foods deli and bakery, and an ACE hardware store. A recently constructed grocery store is located nearer to Hwy 11. At the HOVR entrance (on the makai side) is the Pohue Plaza which has a Malama Market grocery store, Kahala Gas station and mini mart, "The Wash" laundromat, and Desert Rose cafe.
If you want to stay in the Ka'u area, there are numerous Bed and Breakfast establishments. The grocery stores have all the fixings to make a picnic lunch for an adventure to a local beach. For lunch or dinner, ask about the catch of the day at Desert Rose Café in the Pohue Plaza.
There are more places to eat in nearby Na'alehu beyond the Southpoint turn off.
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After driving out of Ocean View on Hwy 11 you will see miles of mostly lava fields. Between Ocean View and Na'alehu, at Hwy 11 marker 69-70, turn right at South Point Road to go to the southernmost tip of the USA. The road starts out as a well paved narrow road and quickly turns into a one lane barely paved road. You have to pull over to the side to let other vehicles go by.
There is turn off on South Point Road to Papalolea Green Sand beach but getting to it requires a 4 wheel drive. On the Road to South Point there is a windmill farm that produces electricity.
The road is 12 miles from Hwy 11 to the point and about 9 miles of it is pretty rough.
At the end of the road there are two spurs. The picture below is the end of the spur on the right. There is no parking lot so you have to park on the grass on the side of the road.
At the end of the road, there is a huge drop off below. You can climb around on the cliff to get great views of the ocean, but huge crumbling lava tubes make it very dangerous to navigate
It is very dangerous to swim or snorkle in the bay below due to strong currents that pull you out to sea.
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