DescriptionWhen “towns” are defined as places with post offices, Naalehu, at 19 degrees 3 minutes 40 seconds latitude, is the southernmost town in the United States. Orchards of macadamia nut trees are along the highway west of town. A monkeypod tree planted by Mark Twain (Samuel Clemens) in 1866 stands in the center of the village. Blown down by a hurricane in 1957, the tree has regrown from its original trunk.
South Point, known as Ka Lae (The Point) in Hawaiian, is the southernmost point in the 50 states. Archeologists speculate that this is the site where the first Polynesians made landfall in the Hawaiian Islands—sometime between the 1st and 4th centuries and then a more prominent wave of people came sometime between the 7th and 9th centuries. Here the island's volcanic slope tapers to a broad, windswept cape, where giant waves crash against the lava cliffs and persistent winds shape the few trees able to grow in this environment. About 4 miles west of town off SR 11, a one-lane paved track runs 12 miles to the point; watch for oncoming traffic.