Drive the Ha­makua Coast

101 Things to Do (Big Island) - - HILO/HAMAKUA COAST -

Although not as well-sto­ried as Maui’s scenic drive to Hana, the 45-mile Ha­makua Coast road trip from Hilo to Honoka‘a is no less stun­ning.

High­way 19 rises above high, ero­sional cliffs that drop to the foam­ing surf be­low. Above the high­way, the moun­tain­side is blan­keted in green and in­ter­laced by rush­ing streams. Two vol­ca­noes—Mauna Kea and Ko­hala—rise in the dis­tance.

Honoka‘a, the big­gest town on the Ha­makua Coast, is a post­card-per­fect site, with main street a pic­ture of tran­quil­ity, his­toric store­fronts, shops, restau­rants and a church steeple. There’s a Satur­day-morn­ing farm­ers mar­ket, bed-and-break­fast ac­com­mo­da­tions, a vin­tage ho­tel, bar­ber­shops, restau­rants, bak­eries and a video out­let.

Honoka‘a is a gate­way to Waipi‘o Val­ley, one of the Big Is­land’s most scenic and sa­cred des­ti­na­tions. Off-lim­its to ren­tal cars, it is ac­ces­si­ble pri­mar­ily by horse­back, bi­cy­cle or foot. To get there from Honoka‘a, take High­way 240 to the look­out above the val­ley.

Other worth­while stops along the Ha­makua Coast in­clude Akaka Falls on High­way 220, the Hawai‘i Trop­i­cal Botan­i­cal Garden just out­side Hilo, Kolekole Beach Park, and the World Botan­i­cal Gar­dens, where Umauma Falls is lo­cated.

PHOTO: AKAKA FALLS

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