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)

 On our way back we had a pretty spectacular sunset that was hitting the rolling grass lands just perfectly.

On our way back we had a pretty spectacular sunset that was hitting the rolling grass lands just perfectly.

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."

 The coastline of South Point is similar to that of Big Sur - just with a lot more lava rock.

The coastline of South Point is similar to that of Big Sur - just with a lot more lava rock.

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).

 Pictured is the latter to get back up to the surface for those who cliff jump - note that it is not very sturdy.

Pictured is the latter to get back up to the surface for those who cliff jump - note that it is not very sturdy.

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).

 Enjoying the breathtaking views at the cliffs edge of South Point.

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 are feeling particularly adventurous you can jump off the cliffs and swim through the sea cave and climb up the opening pictured above. 

If you are feeling particularly adventurous you can jump off the cliffs and swim through the sea cave and climb up the opening pictured above. 

 Very friendly ducks will approach you for crumb of the macadamia nut samples.

Very friendly ducks will approach you for crumb of the macadamia nut samples.

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.

 A baby pineapple grows beautifully at the Paradise Meadows farm.

A baby pineapple grows beautifully at the Paradise Meadows farm.

 Entrance into  Paradise Meadows Farm  - You'll see a red tractor on the other side of the entrance.

Entrance into Paradise Meadows Farm - You'll see a red tractor on the other side of the entrance.

 This is the exterior of a pink lemon - the inside is a light pink color just like a grapefruit and they have a fruity and floral taste.

This is the exterior of a pink lemon - the inside is a light pink color just like a grapefruit and they have a fruity and floral taste.