As sunset falls on the charming town of Honokaa, Hawaii, find yourself strolling the streets that are lined with the appealing boutiques and inviting restaurants that draw many visitors in, season after season. While researching and creating your itinerary for a visit to Hawaii, especially the Big Island, consider adding the charming small town of Honokaa to your list!
A Brief History of Honokaa
The town of Honokaa, though small in population, is filled with history. In the early 20th century, Honokaa was a bustling community with sugar production at the Hamakua Sugar Company, an industry that was in its height in the late 19th century.
One of the constant intrigues of Honokaa is the existence of the historical Honokaa People’s Theatre. The theater was and still is a favorite stop for many residents, despite the cancellation of the once-popular international films that played on the building’s walls. Residents and tourists alike view the theater to be a historical, fascinating building found within the boundaries of Honokaa, acting as a community center for those living in the town.
Nowadays, Honokaa primarily survives as a society with its diversified agriculture. Hawaii’s Big Island beef is partly sourced from the fields around Honokaa, where beef is locally raised and grass-fed. The region has also seen an increase in the crops grown in the area. You can find fields of plants, including pineapples, coffee, papaya, macadamia nuts, taro, and tea in the farmland surrounding Honokaa.
In addition to the past and present significance of the agriculture in Honokaa and the area, the town’s diversified economy also includes fishermen, an obvious choice as a coastal town.
Mamane Street, Honokaa’s busiest and most lively street, offers a wide variety of activities for visitors and residents. The historical center point of Honokaa, the Honokaa People’s Theatre, can be found along Mamane Street. Shopping and restaurants influenced by Hawaiian culture are sprinkled along this main street, so you can be sure to spend an entire day exploring the center of Honokaa.
Of the many things to do and see in the Honokaa area, check out the top activities that we recommend adding to your itinerary while on the Big Island.
Waipio Valley Lookout
Only mere minutes of driving northeast along the Honokaa-Waipio Road brings you to Waipio Valley Lookout, a picturesque destination nearby Honokaa, you won’t be able to resist pulling out our camera.
The lookout overlooks a pristine valley, often referred to as the Valley of the Kings, with cliffs that sharply rise above and frame a lush paradise beneath. In fact, these cliffs reach almost 2,000 feet in height and are freckled with waterfalls and flowers that add to Waipio’s beauty. Few Hawaiians reside in the Waipio Valley, the largest and farthest south of all valleys on the Big Island.
Water tumbles down 1,450 feet to become one of Hawaii’s largest waterfalls: Hiilawe Falls. The waterfall falls from a cliff in the Waipio Valley.
Described as the most famous waterfall within the valley, Hiilawe Falls can be found and admired by either hiking or driving into the valley on an access road that begins at the Waipio Valley Lookout. Hiking is recommended as many vehicles struggle with the conditions of driving further. Follow the road toward the beach for about half a mile and arrive on the black sand beach, taking the Muliwai Trail for the best view of the falls.
Hamakua Harvest Farmers’ Market
The Hamakua Harvest Farmers’ Market can be found in the heart of Honokaa, on the corner of Hwy 19 and Mamane Street (Hwy 240).
The Hamakua Harvest Farmers’ Market was originally founded to encourage the farming and ranching industry and promote sustainable agriculture in the area. The market hosts a variety of food vendors, local farmers, entertainment, and even some educational opportunities. You may even experience one of its many events, including the Annual Farm Festival.
With such a wide variety of things to do, see, and experience at the market, there’s something for the whole family.
Often referred to as a hidden gem, Gramma’s Kitchen in Honokaa serves up Portuguese-inspired dishes that many visitors and locals line up to experience.
The restaurant is reminiscent of any grandmother’s kitchen, full of quirky decor that adds to the cozy atmosphere. When it comes to food, there’s something for everyone. If you’re a fan of breakfast, no matter the time of day, Gramma’s Kitchen is the perfect stop for you. Try the Portuguese French Toast for something sweet or dive into a bowl of soup, like the Friday special Portuguese Bean Soup.
Find Gramma’s Kitchen right on the corner of Mamane and Lehua Street.
While exploring the Big Island, Honokaa is one of the destinations that you can’t miss. Offering the rich culture of island life with an obvious tie to a long history of industry and culture, the town is bound to provide you and your family a well-balanced experience. In this town nestled among lush landscape, you can experience a rich, vibrant culture and get active exploring the surrounding area in Honokaa!