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If you’ve made the trip all the way to Hawaii, South Point and Green Sand Beach have to be on your list of places to go. Green Sand Beach is a small bay surrounded by cliffs with beautiful green and black sand to relax on. It is fairly secluded, not usually that busy and has very clear blue water. For the thrill seekers, South Point is just down the road from Green Sand Beach and has a sheer 30ft cliff to jump off. The water below is unbelievably clear on a calm day.
Time Required: 4-5 hour if hiking in.
Location: 1.5 hours south of Kailua-Kona
Distance: 8km round trip
Difficulty: 5/10 – If hiking. Otherwise it’s a simple ride in your 4WD vehicle.
Season: Year round
Additional Requirements: 4WD Vehicle
From Kailua-Kona: Head south on Highway 11 (Ali’i Hwy) for roughly 53 miles until you reach South Point Road (South Point Road is between the 69 and 70 mile markers). Take a right and follow that road another 10.8 miles to the Greensand Beach trailhead. To get to South Point, head back the way you came on South Point Road and take your first left after about 0.2 miles. Follow this road to South Point.
From Hilo: Head south from Hilo on the Highway 11 for about 62 miles until you reach South Point Road (South Point Road is between the 69 and 70 mile markers). Take a left and follow that road another 10.8 miles to the Greensand Beach trailhead. To get to South Point, head back the way you came on South Point Road and take your first left after about 0.2 miles. Follow this road to South Point.
WHAT TO BRING
- Comfortable Footwear: Hiking shoes if you’re walking to Green Sand Beach. Water shoes are also nice to have because they are easy to wash off in the water when they get sandy. They also might help protect your feet from slapping the water if you cliff jump at South Point.
- Water: If you’re hiking to Green Sand Beach, it will be very hot so it’s important to stay hydrated.
- Snacks: Bring some of your favorite snacks to enjoy along the hike as well as a light lunch. Some of our favorite snacks are trail mix, bananas, beef jerky and licorice.
- Sunscreen: If it is sunny and you’re like Mattson, who easily burns, bring sunscreen!
- Swimming Suit: Both Green Sand Beach and South Point are excellent places to cool off in the water. Don’t forget your trunks.
- 4WD Vehicle: The hike to Green Sand is long, flat, and hot! It’s a lot more fun in a vehicle. Unfortunately, the road is pretty rough so if you don’t have 4WD you won’t be able to drive in.
- Snorkel Gear: The water is beautifully clear at Green Sand Beach, if you enjoy snorkeling and watching the fish, bring your goggles.
- Camera: There are numerous photo opportunities you won’t want to miss.
- This Guide: Print a copy of this guide to reference throughout the hike
Currents: If you choose to jump off the cliffs at South Point, keep in mind that the area surrounding the cliffs has a reputation for having very strong currents. Don’t jump if you aren’t a strong swimmer, or the water looks rough.
Wind: You will probably notice many large windmills as you drive in. The south point of the Big Island is very windy and generates a lot of natural power for the people of Hawaii. Be careful when walking near any cliff edges as an unexpected gust of wind could throw you off balance.
Cliff Jumping: Cliff Jumping can be a lot of fun, but it can also be very dangerous. Be sensible and make educated decisions when deciding whether or not to cliff jump. Never jump without inspecting the water below. Know your limits. Do not try flips if you are not confident in your special awareness and acrobatics. Always land feet first.
4WD Tips: Drive slow and smart. Approach all hills as straight and head on as possible. The best way to not get stuck is to drive slow but not stop.
Leave No Trace: It is important that we enjoy the outdoors responsibly and sustainably. Some key principles to consider when hiking to “Leave No Trace” are:
- Plan ahead and prepare: Proper planning allows adventurers to hike safely while minimizing damage to the land.
- Travel on durable surfaces: Stick to the trail when possible. If there is no trail, or you must travel off trail, stay on durable surfaces to reduce your impact.
- Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out.
- Leave what you find: Leave rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.
- Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance. Never feed wild animals.
- Be considerate of other visitors: Be courteous to others to allow everyone to enjoy their outdoor experience.
To learn more about “Leave No Trace” visit http://www.leavenotrace.ca
Summary: A day trip to South Point is a must do when on the Big Island. Green Sand Beach is one of the most unique beaches on the big island and if you are a daredevil South Point has the best cliff jumping on the island.
Green Sand Beach is just past the turn for South Point on South Point Road. If you are hiking to the beach, find parking in the parking area (Route marker #1 on the map). From the parking area either 4WD or hike east along the coastline with the ocean on your right side. There is a bumpy dirt road that will take you 2.5 miles to the beach (Route marker #2 on the map). It isn’t hard to find the beach, just a long grueling hike. If you are lucky, maybe someone with a pickup might stop and offer a ride.
Once you reach Green Sand Beach there is a railing with stairs that take you down to the water. The beach here gets its name from the unique green tinted sand. The cliffs on the east side of the bay are also very interesting to explore.
We do not recommend jumping off any cliffs here. The water is shallow and there aren’t many safe places for jumping.
To get to South Point head back to South Point Road and take your first left. The road will take you to a parking area at South Point (Route marker #3 on the map). When you arrive at South Point, you’ll see old hoist assemblies that were once used to raise and lower small boats into the water. There is a metal ladder hanging from the cliff that you can use to climb up after jumping into the water. Be mindful of ocean currents. The waters around South Point are a remarkable demonstration of the ocean’s power. Only jump where the hoist is. This area is protected by land from the strong currents coming westward.
Also note that the area where the hoist is located isn’t actually “the southern most part in the United States”. The actual southernmost point is a few hundred yards further south than the cliff jumping area.
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU
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Have fun out there!