Located just north of Hilo on the northeastern side of the island of Hawaii, the Hamakua Coast is one of the most beautiful stretches of scenery on the island. With nearly 84 inches of rainfall a year, the region boasts lush tropical rainforests, stunning waterfalls and tranquil green valleys.
During most of the 19th and 20th centuries, the Hamakua Coast was covered with sugar cane. Today, communities can still be found where small farmers grow kalo (taro), hearts of palm, vegetables and tropical fruit. Small towns like Historic Honokaa Town also feature specialty shops and boutiques with their own local flavor.
For a memorable drive, take the Hamakua Heritage Corridor from Hilo to Waipio Valley Lookout. As you drive along the scenic coast, you’ll see deep water-carved gulches, thick with tropical foliage. Stop and tour gardens full of exotic plants, including the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden and World Botanical Gardens with its triple-tiered Umauma Falls. The heritage drive includes two of the island’s most famous waterfalls—the 442-foot-high Akaka Falls and the 100-foot-tall Kahuna Falls. One look at their cascading beauty and you’ll understand why they’re called wailele (leaping waters). At the end of your journey, stop at the Waipio Valley Lookout to savor a truly stunning panoramic view.
Historic Honokaa Town
What: Small town featuring shops and boutiques with their own local flavor
Where: Hamakua Coast on the island of Hawaii
This charming small town is the gateway to the dramatic scenery of the Waipio Valley. Along its main street you’ll find the historic Honokaa People’s Theatre along with a handful of local boutiques, an antique store, gift shops and restaurants. Taro Gifts is a great spot to find Hawaii-made goods, if you’re browsing for a memorable souvenir. On the outskirts of town, you’ll find Tex Drive In, which is known for its malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts).