Friday, July 9, 2021
Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park
I headed South on the Big Island and my first stop was at Pu’uhonua O Hōnaunau National Historical Park. This historical site is the center of sacred royal grounds, and was located all outdoors giving visitors an up close look at authentic traditional Hawaiian culture and history. The Ki’i wooden images of the Hawiian gods surround the site including a great wall. There are several tide pools, fruit and nut trees, and royal fishing ponds at Pu’uhonua, a beautiful place of refuge for ancient, and now current residents of Hawai’i.
Where is the Southernmost Point in the U.S.A.?
Back in October 2020, I drove from the Northeast side of the U.S.A. in Maine, all the way down the East Coast to the Southeast in Key West, Florida, where they claim to have the Southernmost point in the Continental United States. They have a buoy landmark with some misleading information painted on, where tourists can snap their pictures. I questioned the accuracy of this spot but still had my photo snapped, and sure enough, the information is not correct. For one, there is another island (private) off the Keys that is further South than Key West. Secondly, The Big Island of Hawaii is located further South than the Florida Keys, officially making Nāʻālehu, HI, the Southernmost Point (Ka Lae) in America. Also incorrect on the buoy is the 90 miles, Cuba is actually 94 miles away from Key West. Maybe I should offer to repaint the correct information on the buoy, lol.
South Point (Ka Lae) Heiau, HI
From the main Hawaii Belt Road, it is a 12 mile drive to the south point (ka lae) in Nāʻālehu, HI. This area has pretty flat farmland, yet the coastline mostly has high lava rock seashores with a couple beaches accessible only by walking long distances, or using four-wheel-drive and all terrain vehicles. People were fishing from the rocky shore, but there was no swimming because the waves were too big and the undertow was too strong. I looked for a touristy buoy like the one in Florida, but found a rock wall with a sign that read, Kalalea Heiau, which I found out was an ancient fishing shrine to the Hawaiian Gods, much neater and more respectable than an incorrect tourist trap. I took a selfie with my cap that just happened to be a little patriotic-looking. This place had me awestruck as the giant waves came crashing down on the black lava rock beaches. That was until a local told me of another place not too far that had a green sand beach.
Papakōlea Green Sand Beach
Mahana Beach in Hawaii, has one of four green sand beaches in the world, and I was determined to make that a part of my Jaime in Hawaii in July adventure. I have already witnessed some of Hawaii’s best beaches that are black, brown, tan, and white, but a green sand beach was something I definitely had to experience. Some locals told me that just past the Southernmost Point is a family-owned business who operate 4WD vehicles to take people to the green sand beach located just about three miles in on extremely bumpy terrain. Some people can hike there (about an hour one way) and get a ride back (about 20 minutes) or vica versa. I chose a roundtrip adventure in the back of a pickup truck with nine other people which cost $20/person. That was the best $20 I spent all week on the Big Island! The ride to the green sand beach and back was rough, but the views and experience was well worth all of it.
Thank you for reading and viewing,
Dr. Jaime Brainerd, Ed.D.