Ka'u is the largest district on the Big Island of Hawaii between Puna and Kona, consisting mostly of lava fields, grasslands and agricultural exports including Ka'u Coffee, macadamia nuts, and oranges. Volcanoes National Park lies both in the districts of Ka'u and Puna. South Point and Punalu'u Black Sand Beach are notable areas to travelers, as well as Kula Kai Caverns in Ocean View and the Punalu'u Bakeshop in Na'alehu.
Naalehu is the southernmost town in the United States.
Highway 11 is the only available highway to take you all the way through Ka'u from South Kona to Hilo.
- Ocean View Swap Meet. The Ocean View Swap Meet is a sight to see every Saturday morning! It's small, but friendly and free.
- 1 Ka Lae (South Point).
- 2 Papakolea Beach (Green Sand Beach or Mahana Beach). Near the South Point, a somewhat steep walk leads to one of four green sand beaches in the world.
- Kula Kai Caverns, ☏ . The thing to do in Ocean View halfway between Kona and Volcano Village. It's not far from Highway 11, however you must call first for availability and reservations. Kula Kai Caverns offers lava tube cave tours for all ages with various levels of capabilities, ranging from a short walk that's OK for claustrophobics up to full-day personal guided adventures. Reservations are required and well worth planning ahead for. From $15 for the half hour Lighted Trail walk to $95 for the 2-hour Spelunking Adventure.
- 1 Punalu'u Beach (Black Sand Beach) (off Highway 11 about 45 miles south of Hilo). Beautiful mix of black sand and rocks. A good beach for sunbathing and scenery, but strong rip currents make it dangerous to swim too far from shore. There is a lifeguard tower at the beach. Because the sand is black, it gets really hot where it's dry and beach sandals are recommended on sunny days.
- 2 South Point (Ka Lae). The southernmost point in the USA. To get there, turn makai on the access road about 6 mi (9.7 km) west of Na'alehu and head south 10.5 mi (16.9 km) (the last 4-5 miles of this road are in poor condition so be cautious). There is cliff-diving just west of the parking area, and a green sand beach is another 2.5 mi (4.0 km) east (walk or 4WD only). There is a parking lot and a shack which has been designated as a "visitor's center." If you park in this lot, there is a chance that someone will emerge with a clipboard and ask you to pay for parking. Several guide books make the point that this is public land and that you are allowed to park without paying any fee. While this may be true, some travelers have been harassed or even threatened for asserting their rights to park. A more promising alternative is to park at the boat launch, adding half a mile to your hike. Though the hike to Papakolea is relatively flat, it can be very hot and windy. The beach's sand is a precious gem called Olivine, produced by the surrounding cinder cone, Pu'u Mahana and is one of only two green sand beaches in the entire world, with the other located in the Galapagos Islands.
Interesting and cheap stuff at the Ocean View Swap Meet on Saturday Mornings.
- Hana Hou Restaurant, 95-1148 Na'alehu Spur Rd, Na'alehu, ☏ . 11AM-8PM. This fun, convivial place claims to be the southernmost restaurant in the U.S. The food is hit-and-miss and overpriced, but portions are large and the lemonade and desserts are tasty. Moderate.
- Punalu'u Bake Shop. 9AM-5PM daily. Has lilikoi malasadas to "broke da mouth!" and good salads and sandwiches. Clean restrooms and a great garden to walk around in.