Hamakua Heritage Corridor | Island of Hawaii | Go Hawaii

Hāmākua Heritage Corridor

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Hāmākua Heritage Corridor

What: Scenic drive filled with gardens, waterfalls and small towns
Where: Along the Hāmākua Coast from Hilo to the Waipiʻo Valley Lookout

Take a memorable day trip along the Hāmākua Coast and drive along sea cliffs, through lush valleys and tropical rainforests. The beautiful Hāmākua Heritage Corridor drive begins in Hilo and ends at the Waipiʻo Valley Lookout. Along the way you’ll explore old plantation towns, see amazing waterfalls and discover scenic detours along the way.

Begin your journey in North Hilo by veering off Hawaiʻi Belt Road to take the four-mile Onomea Scenic Drive. This lush detour features moss-laden bridges, coastal views of Onomea Bay and the Hawaiʻi Tropical Botanical Garden on the way. This renowned botanical garden features 2,000 species of tropical plants from around the world. Travel further north and turn west onto ʻAkaka Falls road to discover ʻAkaka Falls State Park, home to the island of Hawaiʻi's most famous waterfall, the 442-foot ʻAkaka Falls, and the 100-foot Kahuna Falls.

Get back to the coast and drive north to the World Botanical Gardens. This jungle playground features more than 5,000 species of Hawaiian and tropical flora, a magnificent view of Maunakea and an overlook that reveals the lovely Umauma Falls, a triple-decker waterfall.

On the road again, steer carefully through the hairpin turns, then pull over at the scenic Laupāhoehoe Point. This peaceful area was once devastated by the 1946 tsunami. Today, Laupāhoehoe Point is still a beautiful lookout showcasing a rocky shoreline, tide pools and dramatic sea cliffs. Don’t forget to stop off at the Laupāhoehoe Train Museum, which honors the old Hawaiʻi Consolidated Railway that hauled goods and passengers up and down the Hāmākua Coast.

Grab a bite to eat and have a picnic at Kalōpā State Recreation Area, which offers great hiking through native forests. Or save your appetite for the little town of Honokaʻa. Here you’ll find a Saturday morning farmers market as well as an assortment of small restaurants and cafés including Tex Drive Inn, a famous spot for malasadas. These Portuguese donuts are a local favorite and Tex’s is one of the island of Hawaiʻi's top spots to find them.

Reward yourself after a long journey at the Waipiʻo Valley Lookout. One look and you’ll see why this valley was so important to early Native Hawaiians. The stunning view reveals a lush landscape, waterfalls and a black sand beach surrounded by soaring valley walls. As a child, King Kamehameha I was hidden in this sacred place to protect him from a rival chief who wanted to prevent his rule. This unforgettable view is the perfect way to end your trip along the Hāmākua Heritage Corridor.