Hamakua Coast

Hamakua Coast

Waipio Valley

Well, there’s an easy way to see it….(as in the photo above), and a hard way. The road to the valley floor drops 2000 feet in 3/4 miles.   Not easy on the knees going down, but brutal coming up!  ONLY 4wd vehicles are allowed to drive down. Otherwise….you walk. Off Highway 19 on the Hamakua coast, near Honoka’a–about mile marker 43.  The valley was the boyhood home of King Kamehameha. Now home to about 100 residents, mostly farmers.  The black sand beach is beautiful, the water fairly rough. A river runs through the valley and there are numerous waterfalls. Plan on spending an entire day, but do so respectfully.  The bulk of the valley is private land, and visitors are not always welcomed with open arms……


An old plantation (sugar cane) town, Laupahoehoe is off Highway 19 at about the 23 mile marker.  It is the site of a tragic Tsunami in 1946 which devastated the school and killed many of its children.  After the wave, the town and school were relocated to the top of the cliff.  At the point is Laupahoehoe park, a large grassy (windy) area. Great for sitting and feeling the breeze (ok, GALE) in your hair! Don’t miss the Tsunami memorial–a sober reminder that though we live in a paradise…..bad things can-and do- happen.

In the old plantation days, a railroad carried the sugar cane from Laupahoehoe to the port in Hilo.  Though the railroad is gone, there is a museum dedicated to its history.

When you’re tired of sightseeing, head over to the Pa’apaloa Store (in the small town of….Pa’apaloa on the makai (ocean) side of highway 19. The store, a plantation day holdover has been lovingly restored. A cafe has recently been added and has live music most nights. The 1st and 3rd Thursdays of each month are Open Mic nights….see the best (sometimes) of local talent!


At mile marker 16, turn toward the sea and follow the road down the hill to Hakalau bay.  A river (swimmable) empties into the ocean.  A small park is maintained by the residents, and it is a lovely place to sit and watch the waves, paddle in the stream or surf the ocean if you’re so inclined. Mauka (toward the mountain) of Hakalau Bay is Umauma Falls and botanical garden, featuring a Zip Line adventure.


A small town at mile marker 13 with a few boutiques, a bakery which also sells HUNDREDS of types of tropical jams. Mauka (toward the mountain) of the town is Akaka Falls State Park, site of Akaka and Kahuna Falls.  A blacktop path follows a 1 mile easy hike to see both falls. Parking fee is $5, or $1 entry per person if you park outside and walk in.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

The garden is off Highway 19 just north of Hilo. A scenic drive toward the park leaves the highway at about mile marker 7. Many of the plants are already pictured in the Flora gallery.  It has paved paths which wind through various categories:  bromeliad, orchid, palm tree, anthurium and others.

The garden overlooks Onomea Bay, and Onomea Stream (and falls) can be viewed from within the garden.

Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden