Hamakua Coast

The rugged northeastern coast of Hawai’i’s Big Island offers beautiful vistas of towering cliffs, dense tropical forest, dazzling waterfalls and botanical gardens.

Experience some of Hawai’i’s most magnificent tropical scenery on the Hāmākua Coast, a 50-mile (80-kilometer) stretch of dramatic cliffs, lush rainforest and breathtaking views. Learn about local history and culture in several small towns and discover local plant life at the Hāmākua Coast botanical gardens.

The northeast coast of Hawai’i’s Big Island is known for its natural beauty, featuring vast cliffs that drop into the roaring surf below and forested valleys framed by the mountainsides of Mauna Kea and Kohala. Discover this picturesque stretch of coastline with the Hāmākua Heritage Corridor, a stunning daytrip drive that begins in Hilo and winds through rainforests, valleys and cliff tops to Honoka’a and the historic and sacred Waipi’o Valley Lookout.

Explore the “Valley of the Kings” by foot or on guided horseback and four-wheel-drive tours. If you’re feeling fit, hike down the steep, paved trail that leads through Waipi’o Valley to a wide black-sand beach. See cascading waterfalls tumbling into the valley’s river, taro fields dotted across the landscape and a vast array of tropical wildflowers. Bring plenty of water for the trip, as this destination is truly in its natural state.

Very little development has changed the Hāmākua Coast since the late 19th century, when sugarcane plantations and cattle ranches began to spring up and populate charming towns like Honokaa. Admire the early 20th-century architecture and browse antiques and local craft stores on the historic main street.

Wander through gardens of exotic native plants, bamboo groves and orchids at the Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden and the World Botanical Gardens. Nearby, find the Umauma Waterfall and the magnificent Kahuna and Akaka waterfalls.

Fly into Hilo International Airport, an hour’s drive from Hāmākua. Discover the Hāmākua Coast by car or by guided tour. Hāmākua is tropical, so ensure you’re prepared for sudden rainfall. To avoid peak tourism season, visit in May and see the wildflowers in full bloom or come in September for warmer weather.