Located on the Big Island's Hamakua Coast about 40 miles north of Hilo, lies the little plantation town of Honokaa. The people here are descendants of immigrant Sugar plantation workers who came to Hawaii in the 1800's. For over a hundred years this was the major coastal business industry. Although the plantation is gone, the community residents of Honokaa and those in the surrounding area have managed to maintain their unique and cherished lifestyles.
The impressive Waipio Valley, is located 9 miles north of Honokaa along the rugged Hamakua Coast. Waipio Valley was once the center of old Hawaiian life. It is six miles long, a mile wide and is known for its peaceful beauty and solitude. On either side are 2,000 foot walls which cut back into the Kohala Mountains. Today the valley is home to a handful of taro farmers and has also recently gained popularity as a tourist attraction.
Although only 4-wheel drives are allowed down the steep road into the valley, there are several tours available (including a horse and a mule drawn carriage). Fit hikers can walk down into the valley where they can view large taro ponds, waterfalls and visit the beach. Due to hazardous undercurrents even the best of swimmers should be cautious.
Because tidal waves have devastated this valley more than once, it is no longer heavily populated by Hawaiians. Today there are only a few taro farmers and their families who remain. They are reluctant to give up the simplicity and awesome beauty of Waipio.
The weekly Farmer's Market takes place Saturday mornings. Local farmers set up in front of the Bothelo building. Another attraction, located just outside Honokaa, is the Kalopa State Park. It is a pleasant forested area popular for hiking and camping (with the proper permits).
There is a public gymnasium, running track, baseball park, tennis courts and swimming pool. Hiking and cycling are popular ways to enjoy the natural beauty of the area. There are no nearby beaches so you will either have to go down to Waipio Valley (black sand beach) or take a 30 mile jaunt to Kawaihae for it's white sandy beaches. Hamakua Country Club (9 holes) is located just outside of town and is one of the oldest courses on the Island.