South Side Shaka – Naalehu/Punalu’u, Big Island, HI

Local kine grindz at the most southern bar in the US.

If you are on the Big Island for the first time, you want to see the black sand beaches of Punalu’u and the Volcano. This is worth the trip. This involves going from the resorts at Kona to the southern most point of the Big Island, where civilization can seem far away. There aren’t many towns between Pahoa/Kurtistown and Kona and you can count theses towns on one hand: Volcano, Pahala, Naalehu, Ocean View. But the amount of scenery on this part of Hawaii is epic. In a span of a few miles you can go from volcanos to black sand beaches to coffee plantations. The best coffee in the world comes not from Kona, but from the nearby Ka’u Coffee Farm in Pahala – the weather is perfect and perfectly consistent.

Epic views at the Whittington Beach Park in Naalehu

Near the black sand beaches of Punalu’u is Naalehu. This is a small town which boast much, including the southern most restaurant/bar in the United States.

South Side Shaka – the Southernmost bar in the US

While the bar itself doesn’t look like much, it is packed full of local vibes and a family feel. It is also one of the few places open on New Years Day on the Big Island. Stopping here with a kid, and they will welcome you like family. The bar is further well stocked.

Local bar at South Side Shaka

The menu options are worth a stop. The best loco moco on the island, smothered in homemade gravy, which has mushrooms, a large amount of rice and meat. Overall, the tastes and combination places it among the best in the islands. Presentation isn’t the goal, this is your grandmother’s cooking, if your grandmother was from the islands, and it tastes like home.

A real local kine loco moco

Sandwiches and homemade slaw are other popular and well made menu items. These are like something your family would make. They taste like home and are welcome after being out in the sun on Punalu’u.

Sandwich with slaw

Daily specials can be found on the sign. For a pregnant and picky wife, the raw poke bowl wasn’t an option, but the fried one was a great choice. The taste was fresh and lightly seasoned. Perfect for her, and the price ($6.95 on 1/1/2018) was great.

Fried Ahi Poke bowl – daily special

South Side Shaka is one of the hidden gems on the Big Island. It’s not upscale, but it’s like coming into someone’s home and having a family dinner. They gave us a second table to put our car seat strapped sleeping 2 year old on, because leaving her on the floor is not how you treat family. The service is excellent and friendly.

Locally, don’t just stop here, the nearby parks give views to die for. Whittington Beach Park offering some of the best views on the island. For those more adventurous, the trek to South Point is there as well. In Naalehu, the Punalu’u bakery is also open, which offers some of the best handmade bread on the islands (you can find them at many groceries) and include their famous taro and guava breads.

South Side Shaka
95-5673 Mamalahoa Hwy
Naalehu, HI 96772
(808) 929-7404
Yelp | Webpage
First Visit: 2018
Most Recent Visit:  1 January 2018
Cuisine Rating:  12
Decoration Rating: 10
COST: $-$$
BEST BET (meats):  Ono, Shrimp, Seafood
BEST BET (meals): Loco Moco