Drive the 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.