Big Island – Pepeekeo Maikai Scenic Route


What? : The narrow 4.5 miles long winding road is beautiful destination by itself as well as it has few attractions along the road, the most important of them are the Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden amd Onomea Bay.


Where? : To get into the road, you'll want to head North from Hilo on Highway 19 and between mile marker 7 and 8 you will see a sign for the Scenic Drive, turn right.

If you are coming from the north, heading south, just before the town of Pepeekeo you will see the singe, turn left int to the sideroad. This is exactly 2.7 miles south of Honomu (the entrance to Akaka Falls State Park).

Google Map Link

Link to other Big Islands Blog posts:



Due note 1: drive slowly, it is a paved road, it is also narrow and has many tight curves and one-lane bridges.


Due note 2: The narrow winding road is beautiful destination by itself. If you do not have time, just drive through it for 20 min and keep going on your highway 19 ride.


Due note 3: This is relatively popular destination but when we visit here mid-day it was not overcrowded.


Due note 4: If you are going into the Hawai‘i Tropical Garden plan for few hours trip, for us, including hiking to the Onomea Bay Trail it took us an hour.


My thoughts: We combined the drive here with our visit at the nearby Akaka Falls State Park. We enjoy the drive in the jungle, short hike to Onomea Bay and stop for fruit smoothie. It was a fun slow-going drive, highly recommended.


The visit:

This is nice 4.5 miles long side road and a short detour from highway 19, you get in one end and join back to the highway on the other side and at this drive enjoy the few attractions it has along it.


Pepeekeo Maikai Scenic Route calles Old Mamalahoa Highway is only 4.5 mile long it can be driven in 15 min but if you will stop along the road and explore local attractions this it can be a few hours trip.

The narrow 4.5 miles long winding road is beautiful destination by itself, dense, green tropical jungle that cover the road creating a tunnel like view, rushing river streams crossing below the road down to the ocean, and mossy old bridges.

There are many pull-outs on the side of the road, especially near brides or attractions, if you are stopping, even “just to take a picture”, make sure that your car does not block the road.


Onomea Bay Trail:

Link to Google Map

As you drive along the road north, you’ll notice an opening in the trees on your right (ocean). From the side of the road, the scenic bay comes into view. There is small few cars pull-out here to park your car. From the road viewing point you can see the small bay below.

From here a short, paved trail will lead you down to the ocean below. Just before entering Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden turn right into a narrow trail that will lead you to the ocean front.

It is a nice place to see how the jungle trees reaching all the way to the ocean, practically this small cove is covered with trees, walk right to the edge of the rock, and see the bay view.

From here hike back to the car, overall, this is less than half a mile hike in both directions and will not take you more than 30 minutes, excellent place to do some hiking while enjoying nature.


Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden (HTBG):

Link to google Map

The private garden is about 20 acres in size, in 1984 it opened to the public. Today, the garden has over 2,500 tropical and subtropical plants, both native and species from around the globe and several hiking trails.

When driving north the parking lot is on the left side of the road. There is a fee to go in ($25 per Adult). 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.


Small Falls Above Bridge:

Link to Google Map

It is about 0.9 miles from the Botanical Garden to this bridge, cross carefully the one lane bridge and park on the north right side of the bridge.

There is a little waterfall at the Kawainui stream flowing under the bridge.

It looks like as lava tunnel and river is flowing out of it, the whole area is covered with dense green rainforest.

When we visit the island, it was Dec and that day was cold and rainy, we just stop here and took few pictures of the stream below. I saw that on summer month when it is much warmer you can fid a way down to the stream below and enjoy swimming at the small pool.


What's Shakin':

Link to Google Map

Soon after the bridge and the waterfall you will see on your left , park your car.

Counter-service stand with picnic-table seating & a menu of fruit smoothies & simple lunch fare.

We took a fruit smoothie and enjoyed it very much.


A short drive to the north you will turn left and soon you will reconnect to highway 19, turn right will take you north.


Overall, is was a fun drive and we enjoyed this short side-way drive a lot.

If you are going into the Hawai‘i Tropical Garden plan for few hours trip, for us, including hiking to the Onomea Bay Trail it took us an hour.


More Pictures: