Tag Archives: South Point

The view from the top of Puʻu Mahana

Puʻu Mahana is an ancient cinder cone near the southern tip of the island. It is best known for Papakōlea beach, the green sand beach, which formed when the ocean cut into one side of the pu’u, creating the bay seen here. The sand’s green color is due to the presence of the mineral olivine. (More photos here.)

Posted in response to Becky’s April Squares challenge theme of ‘Top.’ See more responses here.

Bench near Green Sands Beach

Most people going to Green Sands Beach, near South Point, hike in or pay for a local to transport them in one of a variety of dubious-looking trucks. Once there, people head down to the beach to swim or broil on the green sand.

Beyond the place where the trucks stop is a pu’u and a hike over this hill and down the other side takes one to this bench, which overlooks the bay, though not the beach itself. It’s a quiet spot unless the wind is howling, which it often is, but the view is lovely and it makes a great resting spot before either carrying on along the coast, or returning whence one came.

Sunken roads near South Point

Sunken roads near South Point

Not far from South Point, the most southerly tip of the Big Island and the United States, is a green sand beach, which I’ve posted about here.

The beach is 2.5 miles from the parking lot and, if you don’t want to walk, locals will drive you there ($20 is the current fee I think) in an assortment of trucks of dubious-looking pedigree. One problem with this practice is that it has generated a warren of deep, rutted routes in the sandy soil. Erosion is a problem. Sand is swept into the ocean when it rains and when the wind blows, both of which happen often and in strength.

The county is looking into ways to mitigate these problems, which could include regulating these unofficial taxis or banning them altogether. However, before anything happens, studies will be needed along with public forums to discuss the issue. These will result in an unacceptable proposal that requires further consideration. It’s entirely possible that, by the time action is taken, South Point will no longer be the most southerly tip of either the Big Island or the United States.

Propellor by South Point boat launch

Propellor by South Point boat launch

The South Point boat launch, on the southern tip of the island, is found in a small notch in the coastline. This old propeller marks one side of this small bay. Its size shows its not from a boat that would be able to use the ramp. More likely, it’s a souvenir from the wreck of a bigger boat that met its fate in these waters.

South Point surge

South Point surge

There’s a lot of current and swell at South Point, the southernmost tip of both the Big Island and the United States. Not far from the spot where people jump off the cliff into the ocean (not all of them make it back alive!), there’s a hole in the cliff where water surges in and out. This spot also has an opening above and is a great place to watch this wave action. I particularly like the pink rocks and the frothy white water as the waves recede.

Signs: Green Sand Beach

Near the end of a hike to Papakōlea Beach, better known as Green Sand Beach, there’s this old sign. I think it reads, ‘Welcome to Mahana Bay green sand beach. Please do not take the sand. There is only so much and if everybody that came here takes it, well! soon there will be none. Thank you.’

What I liked was that the only parts that could reasonably be read were, ‘Welcome’ and ‘Thank you.’ The rest I had to decipher with the help of Photoshop when I got home.

What the tide washed in

Beach debris Big Island

These are scenes from the coast of the Big Island, a few miles northeast of South Point, the island’s southernmost tip. This stretch of coast is notorious for the amount of marine debris on its shores.

In late January of this year, a mass of rope washed up at Kamilo Point, just a few miles from where these photos were taken. The rope mass was estimated to weigh around 40 tons. Kamilo Point is nicknamed ‘Plastic Beach’ because weather conditions and ocean currents bring huge amounts of debris ashore there. At least some of this junk is believed to have come from the ‘North Pacific Garbage Patch’ and before that, Asia.

In early March, volunteers gathered 11.6 tons of debris from this same stretch of coast.

The debris in these photos is mild be comparison, but still unsightly, and dangerous for everything from seabirds to Hawaiian monk seals, turtles, and humpback whales. That said, the blue plastic soaking tub (below) on the ocean’s edge, looked awfully inviting.

Beach debris near South Point