Drive up Hamakua Coast from Hilo

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The Big Island, HI
Drive up Hamakua Coast from Hilo
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It's amazing to drive for one hour up the Hamakua Coast from Hilo, stopping at some incredible sights. Six minutes north of downtown, check out Honoli'i Beach Park, with its stunning headland and waves curling in to shore. You stand above the beach and check it out with the many surfers. Drive another five minutes north on Highway 19 and then follow the signs to Scenic Route- Four Miles Long (Sugar Mill Rd). This road is just gorgeous! It is narrow and winding, with lush jungle dangling over you, and waterfalls and streams to see as you cross each bridge. Stop at Onomea Bay Trail, a short hike above the sea. Take a side path to the right to go down to a beach full of huge pebbles, but watch out for large waves. The Onomea Bay Trail can be tricky in spots and you may have to turn back if the stream cuts through the hike. But the views are wonderful. If you want to see gorgeous tropical flowers and mossy palm groves, plus views of the sea, on a nice paved trail, visit expensive (but worth it) Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden. Apply some bug spray at both of these walks. 

You will be needing a cool refreshment after these hikes, so stop at What's Shakin', four minutes past Onomea Bay Trail. You can buy a chilled coconut ($6), a papaya to cut yourself and eat with a spoon (only $1.50), sandwiches, or a smoothie ($8). They also sell some great kids books and souvenirs. Sit under a canopy at their picnic tables and take a break. Two minutes after What's Shakin' is Low Store, which has shave ice and plate lunches. Soon after this, the scenic route connects back up with Highway 19. 
As you drive north on Highway 19, you pass valleys filled with a thousand palm trees clustered together. It's a dream!
Take a short detour (8 minutes off the highway) to Akaka Falls State Park, one of the nicest places you can visit on the island. It is a half mile paved loop with some of the most amazing tropical vegetation and flowers, especially in early August when there are hanging flowers. The tall falls are also lovely to see.
Stop in friendly Papa'aloa town for a meal at Papa'aloa Country Store, which has a casual counter service area in the store, as well as a cafe with beautiful ocean views on the right side of the post office. Finally, check out Lapahoehoe Beach Park, with its mystic ambience. On the left side, climb over the rocks to hear the waves drag the large pebbles, making a lovely sound. On the right side, go for a swim near the boat ramp, in the inky blue refreshing water.
Once you pass Lapahoehoe Beach Park, you can extend your drive north then west on Highway 19 for 45 minutes, enjoying more stunning views, all the way to the town of Waimea, checking out its rolling green hills and misty rain. And if you continue another 20 minutes you will come to the Kohala Coast, on the dry side of the island, and some awesome beaches!
Or you could drive continue north on Highway 19 for twenty minutes but then take Highway 240 for another twenty minutes to Waipio Valley Lookout

Continue to directions...

Countryside in Waimea.

The ocean up ahead!

Views along Highway 19.

Mountain views from Mana Road in Waimea.

Mana Road in Waimea.

Mana Road and Norfolk pines.

The blue ocean, seen from Highway 19.

Lush vegetation.

Cows in a pasture in Waimea.


This drive is from Hilo on Highway 19 all the way to Lapahoehoe Beach Park. It digresses for 14 minutes onto the four mile Scenic Route (Sugar Mill Rd) and also detours off Highway 19 in order to go to Akaka Falls. The total driving time is an hour. Coming back, the drive time is only 35 minutes, since you don't have to take any detours or scenic routes since you already saw them!
If you want to go even further on Highway 19 you can, all the way to the other side of the island!


Click on map for interactive view


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Last Updated: Tue, 01 Feb 2022 15:18:21 GMT

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