You can't snorkel in Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau (pictured), but just to the right of it is a different road that leads to Two Step
Two Step was right by our next destination: Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau. This national historic park is the last place of refuge that is possible to see in Hawai'i. By the old laws, if you broke kapu (or the law), you could be killed unless you managed to make it to a place of refuge to have your sins absolved.
We strolled around the royal grounds and place of refuge while following the self guided tour. It was a pleasant way to start the day.
From Pu'uhonua O Hōnaunau, we headed even more south. Using our guidebook, we reached the true southernmost point of the USA. Just two years ago we had reached the southernmost point in the continental USA. Unlike that point in Florida, there was no marker. We got a compass out and consulted the book to find the right spot. (Probably)
The fishing is good off of the southern point, but the currents are quite strong. Nearby there was a hole cut into the cliff where ancient Hawaiians once tied their boats to prevent from being swept all the way to Antarctica.
We found the hole just to the right of the boat launch by the cliff
From there we headed to Papakōlea, or the green sand beach. You can get to a parking lot, but the actual road (if you want to call it that) is so terrible, it is better to either hike it or hire a local to drive you out to it with their 4 wheel drive, high clearance vehicle. I had read an overwhelming number of reviews encouraging hiring a local as even the trail is pretty rough. We weren't sure how easy it would be to get a ride, but we had hardly parked when a man asked us if we wanted a ride. Yes we did! It was $15/ a person, but it was money well spent. He said he'd been doing this for 7 years. We wondered how many trucks he had gone through.
There are a maze of roads to the green sand beach. This was the only flat section. The rest of it was full of deep grooves and terrifying angles.
After a dusty ride, we made it to the beach. It is indeed green! There are olivine crystals that have been eroding from a nearby cliff into the beach.
After getting a few pictures, Connor rushed into the water. I told him I didn't want to get in. While trying to convince me to join him, he told me he hoped he made it look fun. I told him he made it look funny. He frolicked for a bit before shouting out, "Look! A Turtle." Nothing can get me into the water faster than seeing a turtle. He wasn't lying, there was indeed a turtle. It didn't stick around too long. I was wet by then, so we body surfed a bit before going back.
We only stayed about 50 minutes because our driver waited for us before taking us back. The group of us who were shuttled collectively agreed on the time.
On the way back, Iwaya (I'm sure I have butchered his name), took us to a smaller, greener, beach.
Many of the rock in the area have larger olivine crystals embedded in them
We got some pictures before heading back to the parking lot. It was getting late, so Connor and I stopped by Hana Hou Restaurant in Naalehu before finishing the drive to Aloha Happy Place in Volcano.