The Ka’u district of the Big Island ranges from the bleak Ka’u Desert to fertile pasture lands, grand highland forests to black and green sand beaches.

South Point, at the bottom of the district, is considered the southernmost tip of the United States, and the little town of Na’alehu, located 19 degrees north of the equator on Route 11, is the southernmost town in the nation.

Na’alehu is home to the Punalu’u Bakeshop and Visitor Center, a good place to take a break on a drive to Volcanoes National Park.

South Point, at a latitude 500 miles farther south than Miami, is called Ka La’e, which means the point.

It is believed that Polynesian explorers first landed here as early as 150 A.D. Hike down to Papakolea, better known as Green Sand Beach, and you’ll find remnants of pre-contact civilization.

To get to Ka La’e, take the narrow but paved road off Hwy. 11, about six miles west of Na’alehu town, and head directly south for 12 miles to the ocean.