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Mountain Bike Hawaii – South Point Big Island

Ka Lae “Green Sands Beach”

South point is always amazing. Think Montana and big sky country, with the added benefit of miles of deep blue ocean. The most dangerous part of riding here is that there’s so many views to absorb it’s hard to pay attention to the terrain. The coastline is a dramatic cliff with constant bombardment of waves crashing and spraying. The earth is a beautiful, golden brown and red powdery glow. Rolling hills are covered with grasses and the ocean stretches forever out into a fathomless deep blue.

Everywhere you are reminded that the elements are in control. A stiff wind is a constant here and the sun beats down unmercifully. Old sugar cane buildings and windmill farms show the effects of ocean spray, the relentless sun and the driving wind. Rain happens and when it does, torrential downpours carve into the soft powder soil making rivets and turrets. Nature is on awesome display in one of the most honest and raw ways, with humans trying to tame it for a long time.

Please be respectful.

Ka Lae is a registered National Historic Landmark and is known to be the southernmost tip of the United States. Ka Lae is believed to be the landing spot of ancient Polynesians and evidence supports that it was used continuously for fishing and as a settlement over a period of more than a thousand years. Mind that you may find Heiau temples, fishing shrines and other cultural remnants.

Ka Lae allows access to a rare green sand beach, Papakolea Beach, one of only four green sand beaches in the world. The color is from olivine crystals, peridot, which is eroding out of ancient lava flow that created the Pu’u Mahana cinder cone 49K years ago which encircles the beach.

The Route

On top of that, the route is a “chose your own adventure” maze of four-wheel drive access routes. Numerous four-wheel routes crisscross along the shoreline. Keep the ocean to one side on the way out and on the other on the way back. You’ll get there. The riding is relatively flat, with elemental hazards being the most challenging – relentless strong wind, hot sun, no water or shade, and shifting ground conditions.

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