Ka Lae - The Pepsi Can at the End of America

the road to Ka Lae

Contrary to popular belief, the Southernmost point in the USA isn't at Key West in Florida - that's just the Southernmost point in the Continental USA (and it only just qualifies for that, since Key West is an island which is joined to the continent by an appalling freeway called the Overseas Highway, which stretches 126 miles and drains all sense of romance or adventure from the 40 islands it touches).

In reality, the Southernmost point in the USA is on Hawaii's Big Island, at a place called Ka Lae.

For such a significant seeming place, it's all very low key.   For instance, here's the single lane road which goes to Ka Lae - and this is the good part of the road!   Some car rental companies don't even want you to take their car down here.   If you want to go, don't read the small print in the rental agreement, and your conscience won't give you any trouble.

You can see that the road is getting worse.

There was a US military missile tracking center until 1965, but now the most exciting things along the road are these wind turbines.

Unless, of course, you're excited by cows.

wind turbines beside the road to Ka Lae

And here it is, folks, the Southernmost Point in the USA!

There isn't even a sign to commemorate the place, and if the tide is high, you might miss it completely.

the Southernmost point of the USA
cliffs at the Western side of Ka Lae

These are the cliffs on the Western side of Ka Lae.

It's a wild, rugged place, especially when the surf's up.

Just to remove any last traces of anticipation which you might have had when you came to this web page, here is the Pepsi Can at the End of America!

This hole is the collapsed roof of a lava tube which is open to the ocean.

The Pepsi Can at the End of America
sign at Lua o Palahemo

Here's another collapsed lava tube.  I tried to find out what the name referred to, but I couldn't find much information.   I think "Lua o" means "Lua of" (whatever a "Lua" is), and I assume that Palahemo is the name of a person or god.

If you look below, you'll see that the hole is filled with water, which apparently has small bright-red shrimp living in it.   Unfortunately, I didn't know that at the time I was taking the photo, so I can't show them to you.   Yet another good reason to return to Hawaii some day!   While I'm at it, I should also hike a mile or two East to the green sand beach at Mahana Bay - yes, you read it right, it's a beach with green sand!

Lua o Palahemo

As well as natural sights, Ka Lae also has several interesting cultural relics from the ancient Hawaiians, like this heiau.

There are heiaus on the Big Island which are bigger than this one, but I think you've just got to accept that the Hawaiians (and polynesians in general) weren't great monument builders.

heiau at Ka Lae
ancient Hawaiian mooring rock at Ka Lae

There's also this large rock which has had several holes drilled into it to allow people to tie up their canoes.

Finally, there's a burial site a few hundred yards to the East.

Pinao Bay burial site

Another great day ends with the sun setting over the heiau...

sunset over Ka Lae heiau

...and over the Southernmost Point in the USA itself...

sunset over the Southernmost point of the USA   (click here to open a new window with this photo in computer wallpaper format)