South Point on the Big Island is a special place for several reasons.
It's the first place where Polynesian voyagers from the Marquesa Islands landed when they discovered Hawaii about 1,200 years ago.
As the name implies, it's the southernmost spot in the U.S. (Key West, Florida, is the southernmost in the continental U.S.)
It has more fish and other sea life that any place in Hawaii where fishing is allowed. South Point is noted for large ulua (jack cravelle) caught from shore, plenty of lobsters right below the cliffs and Hawaii's only green sand (olivine) beach.
I camped there often when I lived on the Big Island. It was a 12-mile drive straight downhill from the main highway to the tip of the treeless peninsula.
I had some unusual experiences at South Point camping with friends.
Early one morning I spotted a school of small sharks from a lava ledge where we eased into the water to go diving or swimming. For some reason I jumped right into the middle of them. They were only about 2 feet long, but suddenly I realized they were still sharks with sharp teeth. Gray-tipped reef sharks known to have attacked people on occasion.
They scattered when I hit the water and they didn't try to bite me, but I vowed to control my enthusiasm in the future.
Another day I swam with a pod of dolphins. I was near the ocean floor, holding my breath and looking for a fish to poke with my speargun, when I looked up and saw the dolphins directly overhead.
I surfaced slowly within reach of the nearest dolphin. The pod swam around me, obviously curious, and we stayed together for several minutes before they swam away. It was an exhilarating experience that some people describe as mystical.
Whales were often seen offshore, but I knew better than to swim close to them. Although they don't bother people, their massive size and habit of leaping out of the water makes them a danger to swimmers.
We could usually count on some ulua fillets from one of the rod and reel fishermen if we didn't catch anything. Some ulua were up to 100 pounds, which is a really big fish to land with a spinner.
Although it seldom rained, South Point did have its drawbacks. No public toilets or showers or drinking water. You had to bring everything you needed.
The dry wind almost never stopped blowing hard, which can be a problem because it tends to create static electricity that frizzes your hair and puts you in an irritable mood. There's a windfarm about half-way down to the shoreline, but they could have simply plugged into the campers.
During long droughts, field mice appeared by the dozens and got into everything that wasn't sealed up in some material they couldn't chew through. One night I awoke with three mice running around my stomach.
At some point we generally ran out of beer and had to make the long drive back to the nearest town for a new supply. It was my philosophy that you can't truly enjoy nature without beer.
"The earth was made round so we can't see too far down the road and know what is coming." -- Isak Dinesen, Out of Africa