Cliff Jumping at South Point in Hawaii
Delightful detour for daredevils doing dangerous deeds.
Hot Take: The cliff jumping trip to South Point (Ka Lae) is a short diversion that literally might change your life (4.5 stars)
Pro Tip: You can probably make the round trip to South Point in an hour from the highway turnoff (including time for shenanigans and a farm stand stop along the way)…being able to say that you’ve been to the southernmost point of the USA is pretty cool, so skip the Green Sand Beach if you’re pressed for time.
Places where the land ends and the sea begins always excite the imagination (and occasionally the heartrate). The bottom of Hawaii’s Big Island, which is also the bottom of America, delivers views and thrills that we won’t soon forget. The traditional Hawaiian name for South Point is Ka Lae meaning "the point."
Let’s start with the drive – and what a gorgeous drive it is once you are off the main road. Superlatives really can’t do justice to the natural beauty of the lush, green, rolling landscape (sporadically populated by horses and cattle but mostly unmarred by human hands, save the road and grove of elegant wind turbines). Mile after mile (it takes negotiating 12 of them once you have left the main highway), you start to get the feeling that you get that you have left civilization (and your worries) behind as you cruise to what surely feels like the end of the earth. As your windscreen fills with the sea (the views near the point are literally 240*+ of the gentle Pacific Ocean), hopefully you will get a tingle about what comes next when the road ends and all that remains is water.
Once you park in the small dirt lot at the end of the road to the right, the excitement grows stronger. The feeling grows because at this point the ocean is 45 ft below you (gently breaking against the sheer cliffs of America’s southernmost point – hence the name South Point).
Peering down, a shot of adrenaline hits your system as your plan to cliff jump (despite the posted warnings) seems like less of a good idea (especially considering the rusty 50 ft ladder that you need to climb to get back on terra firma).
But you’ve come all this way (and you do pride yourself on your self of adventure), so you figure ‘YOLO’ and take all non-essential items of clothing and accessory off. (practical tip: take ALL items except your swimsuit off – jewelry, wedding bands, etc – but wear strapped sandals/aquasocks if you have them to help with the smack of the water and the rusty ladder on the climb out) the (small) crowd will no doubt have taken notice of your daring attempt, so feel free to play it up (note: it’s really not that dangerous, but less than 5% of all people have the nerves to jump). When the moment of truth comes, my advice is to not overthink it. Just step out into the warm air…but after half a second, give in to that feeling to scream!
Hopefully you will rise to the sound of cheers and applause (just like I did). Then comes the climb back up the ladder (made much easier by the wave of adrenaline). Another piece of advice, take your time and look back out at the ocean. Go slow and savor the experience, it’ll be one that you tell your grandchildren. Once you are back on top of the cliff, look around at the ocean views, the sea cave, and (maybe) the sunset.
If you have the time, head to the Green Sand Beach (which you’ll need another 2+ hours to experience), but make sure that you stop at a farm stand on your way back for some wonderful macadamia nuts, chocolates, and cold drinks before you get back on the highway. Our favorite was Paradise Meadows (one of the best farm stands we have ever been to with a free farm tour and generous free samples) – it’s on the left side of the road as you drive back and has a big red tractor at the entrance.