A scenic drive along the Hamakua coast of Hawaii Island is one of the best road trips in the state. It’s filled with lush scenery, tropical waterfalls, and incredible ocean views.
Come along with us as we explore this scenic journey.
Where is the Hamakua Coast
The Hamakua Coast drive is also called the Hamakua Heritage Corridor Drive. It’s a 45-mile journey along the eastern coast of Hawaii Island (the Big Island).
You’ll begin in Hilo Town and end at Waipio Valley Lookout. Most of the drive is along Highway 19, but you’ll want to veer off in Honokaa to continue on the route to Waipio Valley.
If you continue on Highway 19, you’ll continue on Hawaii Belt Road, connecting you to Waimea, Kona, or Saddle Road.
Laupahoehoe: The Best Stop Along the Hamakua Coast
Because we make the Waimea-to-Hilo commute regularly, we’ve come up with several ways to break up the drive when time permits.
When you’re visiting the Big Island, if you can, you’ll want to be sure to do the same—there are too many treasures along the way that you won’t want to miss.
Laupahoehoe is the perfect stop along the Heritage Corridor because it is at about the 25-mile marker, and by the time you get there, you’re probably beginning to reach the “Are we there yet?” stage.
Keep in mind that Highway 19 has some twists and turns and elevation changes. For the first-time coastal route driver, you’ll probably be thankful for a break!
First things first: something to eat. Pāpaʻaloa Country Store & Cafe is located just before Laupahoehoe near mile marker 24.
They’ve got a great selection of Hawaiian food along with American favorites like pizza and burgers. Plus, since they’re also a grocery store, you can get some to-go snacks to enjoy on the rest of your journey.
We typically say this is the best place to eat along the Hamakua Coast.
Laupahoehoe Beach Park
When you reach Laupahoehoe, you can make a short stop at the scenic overlook, or you can turn toward the ocean and venture down for a visit at Laupahoehoe Point Beach Park, the site of a memorial honoring the memory of those killed in 1946 by the “April Fools Day Tsunami.”
Laupahoehoe Train Museum: A Hidden Gem Along the Hamakua Coast
A post about Laupahoehoe wouldn’t be complete without telling you about the Laupahoehoe Train Museum. A stop at the museum will give you insight into the history of the Hamakua coast during the sugar era, and you’ll learn about the railway that used to run along the Big Island’s eastern coast.
This is a fascinating part of Hawaii’s history and will put much of what you see and experience here on the island into context. The video you see at the beginning of your Train Museum tour is worth the stop in and of itself!
Other Great Hamakua Coast Stops
Of course, this drive has more to see than just Laupahoehoe. Here are a few of our favorite things to see on this incredible journey:
- Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden, past mile marker 10
- Akaka Falls, just past mile marker 13
- Kalopa State Park, past mile marker 39
- Waipiʻo Valley Lookout at the end of the road
Want to see the best of Hawaii Island’s coastline? Allow our team at Hawaii Aloha Travel to book a guided tour of Hamakua Coast and beyond. Allow the professionals to drive while you take in the sights of this incredible place.