Hawaii November 18, 2016
This Scenic Drive Is One Of The Most Underrated In Hawaii
On the northeastern side of Hawaii Island, far from the luxury resorts of the Kona Coast is an underrated and little-travelled section of coastal wonderment. The Hamakua Coast, which stretches north from Hilo, and is punctuated by lush, tropical rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and panoramic seaside views.
The area receives 84 inches of rainfall each year, and is home to the famous Hamakua Heritage Corridor, a magnificent scenic drive that meanders along the coast, past deep water-carved gulches and valleys, all thick with tropical foliage.
The region was covered with sugar cane during the 19th and 20th centuries, and today, the communities that surrounded these plantations are thriving with small farmers harvesting vegetables, taro, hearts of palm, and tropical fruits.
And though the entire drive is positively stunning, there are a few stops you absolutely must make.
First, if you’re headed north from Hilo, you’ll need to stop at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.
Due to fertile volcanic soil and a moist climate, the garden is able to support more than 2,000 species of flora. While there, we suggest you take the 2.5-mile round trip donkey trail to Onomea Bay and Turtle Cove.
Then, it’s onto Hawaii’s most photographed waterfall, Akaka Falls.
Cascading 442 feet into a lush, tropical jungle is perhaps Hawaii’s greatest waterfall. Akaka Falls is a place of pure paradise flowing from the Kolekole Stream. To view the falls, visitors take a half-hour paved trail leading through a jungle of banana plants, towering bamboo groves and lush orchids.
Next, you’ll head along the coast for quite some time before you reach your next destination - so we suggest you stop in Honoka’a for lunch.
Located at nearly 1,000 feet above sea level, Honoka'a was once the third largest town in Hawaii, but is no home to less than 2,300 residents.
Our favorite spot is Tex Drive-In, a local pit-stop known for their delectable malasadas in addition to burgers and Hawaiian favorites.
And finally, 70 miles after leaving Hilo, you will reach the famous Waipio Valley Lookout.
The sacred Waipio Valley was once the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I, and is an important site for Hawaiian history and culture. But history aside, “The Valley of the Kings” certainly appears as though it was made for royalty – the valley is full of tropical vegetation and surrounded by 2,000-foot tall cliffs.
Oh, and don’t forget to stop and admire all of the secluded beaches along this stretch of picturesque coastline.
Can you imagine a more serene drive?
Before you start planning your drive, check out “
13 Thoughts Everyone Has While Driving In Hawaii.” Oh, and don’t forget to add Maui’s Hana Highway, Oahu’s southeastern coast, and Kauai’s tunnel of trees to your Hawaii driving bucket list.