Hawaii Adventure - Big Island secrets
Hamakua Coast - Big Island Adventure GuideHawaii the Big Island Adventure Guide

Waipio Valley - Hamakua Coast - Hawaii Adventure GuideHonoka’a


The Katsu Goto Memorial is a small Japanese monument to the labor leader for local sugar mill workers who was found murdered in 1889. Residents still leave tributes at the memorial, such as leis, tomatoes and plants. The nearby library has public restrooms.

Tradewinds Live Arts Center (45-368 Lehua St, 775- 1240, www.tradewindsliveartscenter.com) is an artistic hub that showcases work by local artists in various media like glassblowing and painting, but they aren’t always open. Sometimes they host workshops. Call first or stop by and hope to get lucky (but don’t hold your breath). It’s at the bottom of the long hill from the post office. Open 10 am-5 pm Mon-Sat.

Where to Shop

Maya’s Clothing and Gifts (45-3593 Mamane, 775-1016). This gift shop sells aloha shirts and dresses (they ship to the mainland), beaded necklaces and anklets, bark cloth napkins with floral designs, lotions with coconut and mango (wait until you’re home to apply them or you’ll attract additional mosquitoes), sarongs and bamboo wood chimes, among other things. The new owners are very friendly, and give free magnets that say, “We’ll make you so happy you’ll glow!” Open 9 am-6 pm Mon-Fri, 9 am-5 pm Sat-Sun.

Starseed Beads & Gems (45-3551-A2 Mamane, 775- 9344) sells beading supplies and funky jewelry, and has a small café with espresso and muffins. You can also make an appointment to have the former owner take your “aura photo” – what color is yours? Open 10 am-5 pm Mon-Sat.

Cathy’s Angelite (45-3611 Mamane, 756-5849, www.angeliteom.com). Angelite is a stone from South America with purported healing properties, from curing headaches to tumors and even cancer. Owner Cathy Bilsky, who has worked with angelite for 20 years, offers a “free pain and stress relief angelite massage” to anyone who wanders in. In addition to angelite and other rocks and crystals, she sells unique jewelry. Open “9:30ish to 5ish” daily.

Marcia Ray Art Studio (45-3490 Mamane, 775-1928), at the former site of the Bamboo Gallery, features the artist’s paintings of Hawaiian nature, her daughter’s photography, and other work by local artists like saddles and beautiful guitars with abalone inlay. Ask Marcia for information about classes offered at the gallery, such as acrylic painting, fine art printmaking, and salsa and Tahitian dance. Open 11 am to “6ish.”

Hula Moon (45-3490 Mamane St, 775-7141) has such a loyal following that a local musician putting together an album of traditional Hawaiian songs is naming it after the store, which thrills owner Cidel. But you’ll need some luck to catch this boutique and consignment store when it’s open, usually Thurs and Fri 10 am-5 pm “or when I’m finished playing,” and Saturdays from 8:30 am to “whenever.”

Fans of antique stores will also enjoy Honoka`a Trading Company and Seconds to Go, both on Mamane St. There are several other art galleries and jewelry shops for die-hard shopaholics.

Adventures in Yoga

Ohana Yoga & Massage (45-3593 Mamane St-A, 775- 1614). Massage and Reiki sessions are available by appointment for $30/hr, and there are $8 drop-in yoga classes. There is a free open meditation for a half-hour each morning at 7 am.

Where to Stay

Mountain Meadow Ranch (46-3895 Kapuna Road, Ahualoa, 775-9376, www.mountainmeadowranch.com, one suite $95, one cottage for up to four people $135). Horses graze on the seven acres of this property, which is about three miles southwest of Honoka`a. There is a suite on the lower level of the owners’ redwood ranch home with a dry sauna, and a private cottage with a woodstove for chilly evenings and a full kitchen. This popular place books up early, so make reservations as far in advance as possible. $$

Waianuhea B&B (45-3505 Kahuna Drive, Ahualoa 775- 1118, toll free _ 888-775-2577, www.wainuhea.com, five rooms $195-$400). This place is cool – from the funky interior design and giant windows, to the wine tasting each evening at 5 pm, which includes pupus such as grilled asparagus. And it’s “off the grid,” solar-powered. There is an outdoor Jacuzzi for gazing up at the stars. $$$-$$$$

Old Log Cabin (Old Mamalahoa Hwy, 885-4243, toll free 800-555-8968, website link from www.kamuelainn.com, five rooms, $59-$99). The word “rustic” comes to mind in this tidy lodge. The rooms are small (but affordable!), and the common areas, a library and room with a fireplace, are large. There is an outdoor jet spa in the “Japanese serenity garden” and massage is available for $40/hr. $-$$

Where to Eat

Mamane St Bakery & Café. The popular bakery is temporarily closed to the public, though they’re still baking goodies sold at Starbucks around the island. Word is that the present location will become a retail shop once the proposed new bakery site survives the permitting process and opens in Waimea.

Jolene’s Kau Kau Korner (Mamane St, 775-9498). This is an unremarkable restaurant offering the usual local fare at affordable prices: saimin, macaroni salad, plate lunches and burgers (the “hamburger deluxe” is $2.45). Vegetarians shouldn’t be fooled by the presence of tempeh on the menu – they’re probably out of it again. Open Mon, Wed, Fri 10 am- 8 pm; Tues-Thurs 10 am-3 pm. $

Blanes Drive Inn (on Mamane near intersection with Koniaka Place, 775-7220, menu hotline 775-0029). A local hot spot, this fast food joint is cheap and open late by Honoka`a standards – 9 pm. It offers local fare – plate lunches, bentos, spam bowls, burgers and gardenburgers, saimin and miso soup. Blanes also has a “convenience menu” for families, offering 30, 45 or 60 pieces of food – teriyaki beef, Korean drummettes, mahi mahi and chicken katsu. Open 5 am-9 pm Mon-Sat, 6 am-9 pm Sun. $

Nutrient Niche (45-3321 Mamane, 775-7226). This small natural food store on the edge of town has organic groceries, teas, aromatherapy oils, recycled paper towels and New Age magazines. Local flowers like protea are sold as well. Mondays and Tuesdays from 11:30 am to 6 pm an organic chef makes fish tacos, nachos, roasted vegetable sandwiches and other healthy snacks. There are a few tables outside with great views of the ocean. Open 10 am-6 pm Mon-Fri, 10 am- 4 pm Sat. $-$$

C.C. Jon’s Snack-in Shoppe (45-3390 Mamane, 775- 0414) smells like grease, thanks to a menu that includes onion rings, French fries and $2 burgers. There is counter service and two tables. Your best bet here is the huge shave ice - $1.75 for a single flavor. Open 6:30 am-4 pm Mon-Fri. $


Where to Stay

Cliff House Hawaii (775-0005, www.cliffhousehawaii.com, 1 house, $195). Part of the Kevin Costner film Waterworld was filmed on this property, which has incredible views of the Waipi`o Valley. The entrepreneurial proprietors also own several companies that tour the Waipi`o Valley, and Waipi`o Valley Artworks. $$$


Where to Shop

Donna’s Cookies (42-1019 Hwy 19, 776-1668). Located mauka-side near mile marker 35, Donna’s Cookies keeps irregular hours, but it’s great if you can catch them when they’re open. This is the facility where they bake their sundries to distribute to stores across the island, but they’ll sell you a bucket if you drop in. General hours: 5 am-to 2 pm Mon- Fri.

T&T Parel Mini Mart & Snack Shoppe (42-1027 Hwy 19, 776-1113). This isn’t exactly a Mother’s Day brunch spot, but it works if you need a quick bite. French toast is $2.75, omelettes are $4.50. There are also plate lunches, burgers, sandwiches and bentos for lunch, as well as the usual minimart goods. Located next to Donna’s Cookies. Open 6:30 am- 3:30 pm Mon-Fri; closed Sat; 8 am-2 pm Sun.


Where to Shop

Hamakua Art Gallery (35-2084 Old Mamalahoa Hwy, 962-5002). This small gallery, also a real estate and B&B booking office, offers acrylic paintings by local artists of the region. It is next door to Big Island Bakery. Open 8 am-5 pm Mon-Sat.

Big Island Bakery. Adjacent to the Hamakua Art Gallery, Big Island Bakery makes delicious sliced bread that is preservative-free and sweetened with 100% Hawaiian honey. Multi-grain and cracked wheat are particularly good. If you stick your head in the door, you can score a loaf for $3.25, normally sold for around $4.50 in stores.



Little is left of the once thriving town of Hakalau, located makai between mile markers 15 and 16 on Hwy 19. This area was a hotbed of action during the sugar years, and some of the structures still stand, including the Hakalau Theater, which is now the post office. Other structures from that era haven’t survived as well.

If you follow the road all the way into the gulch you’ll come to a gate that should be open. After years of enmity between the public and the landowner over beach access, the development company that owns the land has agreed to sell it to the county for a park. The development of the park will take a few years, but access is now open and uncontested. A short trail leads to the wave-battered beach, where you can view the ruins of the former sugar mill just across the creek. The mill was destroyed by the 1946 tsunami, but, unlike many other destroyed buildings, it was rebuilt. It closed for good in the ’60s, and very little of it now remains. The swimming at the beach appears treacherous, but we’ve seen plenty of local spongers riding the short break, as well as spear fishermen trying their luck just off the beach.


Where to Shop

Glass from the Past (28-1672 Old Government Road, 963- 6449). This is an unusual store with a collection of vintage glass bottles and jars discarded by sugar mill workers in cane fields before the 1950s. Labels were embossed (as opposed to the paper ones of today), so their origins are preserved. A fun browse. Glass from the Past also sells vintage clothing and perfumes. Open 10ish-5ish Wed-Sat, mornings Sun.

Good Value: Joy’s Gift Shop (963-6780). This small store is chock full of quality goods at low prices: Hilo `ukuleles, mango wood candle holders, fans painted with ocean images, bamboo purses and beautifully carved mango wood vases (for only $22). Joy’s is only open half-days on Wednesdays and Saturdays while owners Joy and Ray host a booth at the Hilo Farmer’s Market (where they sell their wares at the same low prices). Joy’s is a perfect example of the more authentic, less expensive shopping on the Hamakua Coast compared to what you’ll find Kona-side. Open 10ish-4 pm daily, half days Wed and Sat.

Akaka Falls Aloha Fashion (28-1688 Old Government Road, 963-6336, www.miekohawaii.com). Owner Mieko’s skills as a seamstress are well-known locally and in Japan. Pre-made or custom designs are available.

There are several art galleries on the main street in Honomu, including The Ohana Gallery, Zen Art Gallery, Circle A Gifts (pearl and woodworking), and Honomu Plantation Gallery, and the Honomu Emporium – the “teddy bear store of Hawaii.”

Where to Eat

Mr. Ed’s Bakery (28-1672 Old Government Road, 963- 5000) has a seemingly tempting selection of baked sweets like chocolate chip mac-nut shortbread, cinnamon rolls, Hawaiian sweetbread, cream-filled Long Johns and fruit turnovers. Unfortunately, looks can be deceiving; the food is bland and dry. There is an adjoining gift shop with snacks like hot dogs. Open 6 am-6 pm Mon-Sat. $

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