A month-long stay in the Hamakua and Kohala areas of the Big Island wouldn't be enough time to experience all the incredible scenery, vistas, waterfalls, hikes and small towns. This area has a range of annual rainfall from 6" to 140", and terrain that ranges from desert to lush tropical rainforest. There is very little modern development so you can get a real feel of how people have lived here for the last 150 years. Following are a few highlights of famous or more well-known places, but be sure to ask your hosts in the area about their favorite spots too, since this list is far from complete!
Honokaa is an historic agricultural town from the days of sugarcane and cattle ranching. A stroll down the mainstreet brings you to a number of antique and memorabilia stores, local craftsman's shops, a homemade ice cream shop, four family restaurants, galleries and friendly people. There are many old restored historic buildings including a 1930's movie theater (still showing modern films Friday, Saturday, and Sunday evenings). In Honokaa you can get a taste of what Hawaii was like years ago. Every Saturday morning there is a Farmer's Market.
Waipio Valley overlook is a 10 minute drive from the town of Honokaa. If you like hiking and are in shape you will enjoy the walk down the (paved) road to the valley floor and the mile-long black sand beach. Bring drinking water with you, and allow 30 min. down, and 45 min. up to return.. There is much ancient history here. King Kamehameha was raised in secret here and later this valley was the head settlement of the Hawaiian Islands. Some say that as many as 30,00 people lived here at one time, but it is hard to imagine that now. Waipio is like a tropical Grand Canyon. The highest free-falling waterfall in the world is in the back of the Waipio. The impressive black sand beach here has varying ocean conditions so be respectful of your abilities when you venture out to swim, bodysurf or go boogie boarding. The river is a lot of fun to play in also. Four-wheel drive tours, mule-drawn wagon rides, and horseback rides thru Waipio Valley are offered by the travel agency in Honokaa. A visit to Waipio with its gently murmuring streams and taro fields is really turning back the clock to Old Hawai'i.
Kalopa State Park is a wonderland of trails in native Hawaiian rainforest which retains its original indigenous species of plants and trees. There are many beautiful well-kept trails through the forest, from a 0.4 mile 10-minute walk to a 6-mile circumlocution of the entire park.
Laupahoehoe Point has a County beach park, including picnic tables, showers, and quiet tidepools for bathing, as well as spectacular ocean views. You can stop and say a prayer there at the monument to the residents who were washed into the ocean when a tidal wave hit Laupahoehoe Point years ago (there are modern tidal wave warning systems now and no one gets hurt anymore).
On the Hilo end of the Hamakua coast watch for the " 4 mile scenic drive " sign on the ocean side, for if you have the time it is a beautiful, tropical drive. You may wish to stop at the Botanical Gardens during the drive to see exotic trees and unusual tropical plants.
Akaka Falls , Rainbow Falls and the little town of Honomu are a must-see, as no trip is complete without seeing these beautiful falls.