Destinations · Hawaii

Hangin’ on the South Side of the Big Island

While we were staying at Volcano, we celebrated our one-year anniversary of being “location independent”. That’s a new term I’ve learned this past week, and I like it for what we are doing. I cannot say that this past year has not had its ups and downs, or a few doubts that we’re doing the right thing, although that was mostly earlier in the year. We jumped into this in the middle of Covid with hardly a look back or saying many goodbyes, because of the said pandemic. For our current situation in life, this fits. We’re enjoying it and feel blessed that we can travel as much as we can. Cheers to that!

We celebrated at Volcano’s only winery, Volcano Winery, with a guava grape wine. It is the southernmost winery in the United States. They grow their own grapes and also have tea trees, so they make their own tea. After our celebration, I had a little tea tasting, complete with a tea leaf.

Being at the winery made me wonder: is this really the southernmost part of the United States? We’ve been to Key West, Florida, and thought we were at the southernmost place there. A Google search answered the question: Key West is the southernmost point of the contiguous United States. Lava rock at the ocean on the Big Island is the southernmost point of the whole United States. Let’s go!

Well, we didn’t just jump up from our chairs and dive in the car, but we did go on another day. All we did was google “southernmost point” and let GPS take it from there. We passed a huge coffee farm. The couple of towns we went through got smaller. Then, windswept cattle and horse ranches. The trees were blown sideways, especially this monkeypod tree, with its trunk totally on the left side of it:

There is no sign saying “You are here!”. We questioned our GPS, but when I looked up pictures of the “Southernmost Point”, this view is what frequently comes up. The exact place is somewhere on the lava rocks. We wondered about all the cautionary signs. This spot is on a pretty substantial cliff; who would ever want to jump into the water here?

There was no fence around this hole in the ground. It was pretty fascinating to watch the water ebb and flow with the waves, and too deep to be a blowhole.

As Cal and I were peering down this hole, I started chatting with a girl nearby. I was still wondering if we were in the right place for the southernmost point. She didn’t really care about that, but she said she’d heard that there was cliff jumping here. She thought there would be more people jumping (there were none at that point). She and her friends were trying to decide whether or not to do it.

“Shall I jump?” This, despite the warnings and the memorial on the red sign!

He did jump!! I didn’t catch it on camera, but I did get a picture of the girl I had been talking to:

For many reasons, just “Wow”!

In case you are wondering, there are no rocks straight down in the ocean here, which I suppose explains its popularity for cliff jumping. These two were joined by a third young man, and his mother was right there cheering them all on. They were all wearing outer gear that made me think they were a swim team and she was their instructor but I can’t be sure of that. The group seemed to enjoy their swim in the water but the rope ladder for the climb back up looked very precarious.

Off to the other side: this is not the area anyone would want to jump down into!
A sea turtle we noticed while watching the swimmers

It was time for lunch at the southernmost bakery in the U.S. We had meat inside soft, fresh Hawaiian rolls with malasadas for dessert. I’ll get back to the malasadas in a bit. This place is very popular and we had quite a wait just to be able to place our lunch order.

On the way back to Volcano, we stopped at Punalu’u Beach, known for its black lava sand. It was our very last beach, and a great way to end the vacation.

Back to the malasadas. We were riding with our friends Kathy and John on a highway in Honolulu when I saw a sign with a food truck way up off the road advertising them. I asked Kathy what they were, and she didn’t know, so she googled it. Definition: a fried type of doughnut. In the melting pot that is Hawaii, malasadas were brought to the Islands by the Portuguese. In Lana’i, my niece Rachel told me that there were excellent malasadas in Lahaina, Maui, and told me where to go. But we had so much good food to eat in Lahaina in a short time that we never got there.

We were coming back to Volcano one day after an outing when I saw a sign for malasadas and shouted out for Cal to stop. He’s never one to question a food stop, so he pulled a great U-turn. And there they were, two guys under a canopy, deep frying malasadas, with…pigs and chickens running free nearby. They (the guys, that is) were very nice and even gave us free samples since we’d never had them before. This is why I’ve noted in an earlier post that sometimes it felt like we were in a foreign country in this part of Hawaii!

We purchased a paper bag of traditional malasadas, easily compared to donut holes. They were excellent, pigs and chickens notwithstanding. Our malasadas were especially good washed down with pog juice, which had also become a Hawaiian favorite. So far, we can’t find pog in the continental States.

Back to Punalu’u Bakery. They had traditional malasadas, but also the filled variety. My strawberry-filled malasada was good but the filling tasted a little to me like canned pie filling, not my favorite. I kept looking longingly at Cal’s chocolate-filled malasada but he didn’t offer a sample. He thought he liked the traditional ones best. I liked them both, very different from each other.

I enjoy figuring out the origins of words, and I study Spanish. Portuguese is very similar to Spanish. “Mal” in Spanish means “bad” and “asada” means “grilled”, or “roasted”. So I’m conjecturing that the very first malasada was a complete accident.

With a toast to malasadas and pog, I’m concluding this edition of The Hawaii Chronicles. I hope you enjoyed reading about our little romp through some of the Hawaiian islands. What would we like to see if we came back? We didn’t get to Kauai, and Molokai might be interesting. I would like a return to Maui to see Haleakala National Park. People we talked to on the Big Island were surprised that we didn’t see Kona, although we were pretty happy on the southeast side, so I suppose that might be a possibility. Cal really liked Lana’i and would like to return. But then, there are so many other places in the world to go, and the US to explore, especially with our RV.

Until next time, Aloha – and Mahalo – (thank you) for reading!

Next time – back to Frodo, Sam, and Arizona!