Ka‘u: South by South
The sparsely populated Ka‘u District at the southern tip of the island is known for its rich environmental diversity. A large chunk of Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park is located in this district, as are wind farms, highland forests, the parched Ka‘u Desert and enticing black-, white- and greensand beaches.
But the area is largely distinguished by its geographic location. South Point, at the bottom of the district, is considered the southernmost tip of the United States, and the village of Na‘alehu is its southernmost town.
More properly called Ka La‘e, South Point is located at a latitude that’s 500 miles farther south than Miami. Its roots go back to 150 A.D., when it is believed the first Polynesian explorers set foot on the island.
Na‘alehu (population 900) is located 19 degrees north of the equator on Route 11. It’s a good place to take a break on the drive to Volcanoes National Park. Check out Punalu‘u Bake Shop, which is, of course, the southernmost bakery in the United States.
• Punalu‘u Bake Shop (808) 929-7343 or (866) 366-3501