Cape Kumukahi

Viewpoint in Kapoho Area

As the distinguished easternmost point of the island, Kumukahi ('first beginnings') holds a revered place in Hawaiian lore. The Kings Pillars (piles of rock barely distinguishable from natural lava) mark the solstices, passing the sun between them. Pele's shark brother Kamohoaliʻi lives offshore, guarding the gourd that holds the waters of life. Some say Pele started her journey here, poking holes along the Eastern Rift Zone as she journeyed to Kilauea.

Captain Cook almost lost everything when a violent storm threatened to run him aground as he rounded Cape Kumukahi. A lucky last-minute wind-shift blew him to safety and back on route toward his unlucky fate.

From Kumukahi Lighthouse, it's a rough, ankle-twisting 0.25-mile walk along vanishing trails to the shore. You won't find much to mark this place's significance except for a powerful sense of peace, and the freshest breeze on the planet. The air arrives here after weeks at sea – untarnished by human activity – where it is sampled regularly by scientists studying atmospheric carbon and pollution levels.