Big Island – Driving North of Hilo, Northeastern Ocean Shoreline


What? : There are many things to see and do along the 41-mile-long drive between Hilo and Honokaa (Highway 19). The main attractions are Pepeekeo Maikai Scenic Route at it south section and Akaka Falls State Park as also the drive itself.

Where? : In this blog I will describe the drive on Highway 19 from Hilo to Honokaa. This is 41 miles drive and without any stop it will take you about an hour to drive it.

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Link to other Big Islands Blog posts:



Due note 1: As always bring plenty of water and reef-safe sunscreen to make your beach day pleasant and sunburn-free.


Due note 2: Along the 41 miles road there are many small towns with small beaches, not sure that as a tourist we need to visit them.


Due note 3: Except Hilo there are many other places that you can find gas stations.


Due note 4: On top of fruit-stands you can find few places to dine along the road, including at Honokaa.


Due note 5: This drive is in the rainy side of the island, plan accordingly and bring raingear with you.


Due note 6: Even if the weather prediction indicate rain this can be only a short event. It can be clear and hot before or after the rain even in wintertime.


My thoughts: There are many things to see and do along this 41-mile-long drive. We visit here twice, one day as part of a long day trip and on the second day we went to do the Botanical World Adventures Zipline.

Plan your day trip:

We had a lot of fun here; every side trip is not so long, and you can do most of the attractions below in one day-trip, even if you are starting at Kona side of the island.

The above is under the assumption that you are not doing the zipline and not visiting the botanical gardens, each of those attractions can take few hours.

You can do this as a day trip from Hilo, going north at the morning, visiting the attractions, and driving back south to Hilo at the afternoon.

We stayed at the Kona side of the island, we drove to Hilo, short stop at the waterfalls, and then north the road, passing through Pepeekeo Maikai Scenic Route, Akaka Falls State Park and even drove down to Waipiʻo Valley. Once we done, it was already dark we drove back to Kona side of the island on highway 19 west.


The visit:

In this blog I will describe the drive on Highway 19 from Hilo to Honokaa.

This is 41 miles drive and without any stop it will take you about an hour to drive it.

There are many things to see and do along the road.

You can set this drive as part of a day trip out of Hilo, or as we did a long day drive from the Kona on the other side of the island.

We combined this drive with a visit at waterfalls at Hilo and at the end visiting Waipiʻo Valley.


Scenic Outlook Park:

Located just north of Hilo on highway 19, a very short but recommended stop on your way. Get into the viewing parking lot and enjoy the view of Hilo and the bay.

Hawai‘i Plantation Museum at Papaikou

The final sugar plantation harvest on the Big Island is now more than 25 years in the past. In 2016 Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar closed the last exporting commercial sugar operation in the state.  

Hawaii industrial sugar farming exploded after 1876, when the Reciprocity Treaty between the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi and the United States of America opened US markets to Hawaiʻi sugar without import tariffs. Sugar farming quickly changed the island--land cover, the built environment, and the population.

​The Hawaiʻi Plantation Museum shows how the sugar industry helped develop a different lifestyle in Hawaiʻi.

You can check out their website for more info:

At that day we were short on time, and we didn’t go into the garden on our trip.



Pepeekeo Maikai Scenic Route:

Link to the blog on this road

The narrow 4.5 miles long winding road is beautiful destination by itself as well as it has few attractions along the road. The drive will take you between 30 minutes just to drive and take few pictures to few hours if you are visiting the gardens.

The road attractions are:

- Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden

- Onomea Bay Trail

- Small Falls Above Bridge.

- What's Shakin'


Akaka Falls State Park:

Link to the blog on this road

This short hike over a paved trail twill take you through lush green rainforest to an overview spot for the 442-foot tall 'Akaka Falls. This is one of the most picturesque waterfalls in the Big Island and a very popular tourist attraction.


Botanical World Adventures Zipline:

We did this zipline, this is few hours adventure and we liked it very much.



Bridges Along Highway 19:

Highway 19 is crossing many rivers that are flowing from the mountain to the ocean below. Along the road there are large bridges that are crossing the rive gorges.

I do recommend stopping for a short stops along your drive, enjoy the view of the rivers and jungle below you and take some pictures.

This is a busy highway with a lot of cars.

As you are driving and approaching a bridge, slow down and look for a safe out of the road place to park on the side of the road, before or after the bridges.

Few bridges we stop at:

Kolekole Gulch Park and Beach: this bridge and the road leading down to the beach below was close because of bridge maintains work, it looks like as an amazing beach to visit.

Umauna Waterfalls view from the Bridge

Nānue Bridge


Big Island - Eucalyptus Tree Farms

Driving along highway 19 Hāmākua Coast at the northern section approaching Honokaa and you can see a lot of tall, impressive Eucalyptus Tree Farms.

Back in the 1990s, after the downfall of the sugar industry, large landowners on the Big Island were looking to do something with tens of thousands of acres of land on this part of the island. They decided to plant thousands of acres of fast-growing eucalyptus trees.

The motivation was to sale them to a paper industry. Once this deal collapsed, it left over 30,000 acres of already-planted eucalyptus without a buyer. Since then, the trees have mostly gone unharvested.

Now the Public Utilities Commission has approved a plan by to burn those orphaned trees to produce electricity.

Until they will do something with the trees it interesting to see these tall trees standing. We stop at one of the side roads locked gate and took some pictures.



This small town will be our north end of this blog, this small town is not a tourist destination by itself, few gas stations and a main-street with few restaurants and coffee-shops.

What “make” this town well known point on the road is that this is an entry point to the famous, and one of the Big Island top tourist attraction destinations, the Waipiʻo Valley, 9 miles north of town on highway 240.

We did stop here at Tex Drive-In for late lunch. Overall, the burgers were OK but this place is famous for it’s malasadas, deep-fried sweet dough balls done in the store bakery.



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