The Hamakua Coast is one of the loveliest parts of the Big Island of Hawaii, largely unspoiled and remarkably picturesque, with lush mountains to its west and verdant valleys and the ocean to the east. It stretches some 48 miles northwestward from Hilo to the remote Waipio Valley, taking in the northeastern coastline of the island. The best approach to it is on Highway 19 north from Hilo, then Highway 240 northwestward from Honoka’a.
There are some worth-visiting points of interest along the coast, chief among them the 25-acre Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens, where more than 1,800 species of plants indigenous to a rainforest are on display, and the 66- acre Akaka Falls State Park, situated at an elevation of 1,200 feet. At the park you can visit two picturesque waterfalls: the 420-foot Akaka Falls and the smaller, 100-foot Kahuna Falls.
North to Waipio Valley
The only communities along the Hamakua Coast are those of Honoka’a and Kukuihaele, with fewer than 2,000 inhabitants each. At Kukuihaele there is an overlook with panoramic views of the remote Waipio and Waimanu valleys below. Also, from the Waipio Valley Art Center in Kukuihaele you can ride the Waipio Valley Shuttle for a guided tour of the valley. Waipio Valley is one of the most famous and most beautiful valleys in Hawaii, a mile wide and 3 miles deep (receded inland from the ocean), surrounded by steep cliffs overlooking the ocean. At the southern end of the Waipio cliffs are the 1,200-foot Hi’ilawe Falls, the highest waterfalls in Hawaii, on the east side of the valley are the 620-foot Kaluahine Falls. There is also a mile-long beach here, the Waipio Beach, notable as the longest black-sand beach in Hawaii.
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