Big Island: Places to Explore

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Kau

The most desolate region of the island, Kau is home to spectacular sights. Mark Twain wrote some of his finest prose here, where macadamia-nut farms, remote green-sand beaches, and tiny communities offer rugged, largely undiscovered beauty. The 50-mi drive from Kailua-Kona to the turn-off for windswept Ka Lae (South Point), where the first Polynesians came ashore as early as AD 750, winds away from the ocean through a surreal moonscape of lava plains and patches of scrub forest. At the end of the 12-mi two-lane to Ka Lae, you can park and hike about an hour to Papakolea Beach (Green Sand Beach). Back on the highway, the coast passes verdant cattle pastures and sheer cliffs and the village of Naalehu on the way to the black-sand beach of Punaluu, a common nesting place of the Hawaiian green sea turtle.

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