Honoka‘a, Hawaii

Located 40 miles north of Hilo and about 20 minutes east of Waimea, the historic, small town of Honoka‘a had its heyday more than a century ago during the boom of the sugar plantation era.

Today, this beautiful enclave on the Hamakua Coast thrives in its own unique way, boasting a high school, intermediate and elementary school, a hotel, several banks, boutiques, shops, restaurants, cafés, grocery stores, and the historic Honoka‘a People’s Theatre built in 1930. Government facilities in town include a police substation, courthouse and fire station. There are also several interesting old buildings on the National Register of Historic Places including the Hotel Honoka‘a Club and the Ferreira Building.
Honoka‘a Town is a close-knit community. On Saturday mornings, the weekly Farmer’s Market in front of the old Botelho building showcases the best of Big Island produce and agriculture. There’s also a public gym, baseball park, swimming pool and plenty of hiking opportunities. Honoka‘a’s own high school jazz band is well known across the Island and plays gigs at events and venues throughout the year.

The surrounding area is also known for its farming, rodeo and ranching activities. Every summer, the annual Honoka‘a Western Week features a paniolo parade, rodeo, talent contests, steak fries, live music and more. The annual Honoka‘a Peace Day Parade is another popular event. Step back into time at the Hamakua Plantation Museum, a private museum on Mamane Street showcasing collections of plantation-era artifacts and collectible on display in a vintage home.

The main visitor attraction in the area, Waipio Valley is just a short drive from town down Highway 24. Only 4-wheel drive vehicles are allowed to travel down the steep, narrow road to the valley, but there are several tour operators and shuttles that can take visitors down to the valley floor. Horseback-riding tours are a great way to travel through the remote valley, where taro fields and waterfalls prevail. For visitors wanting to experience a slice of life in Honoka‘a, there are several great bed & breakfasts and vacation rental properties along Highway 24.

With its crisp blue skies, comfortable year-round climate, historic buildings and friendly residents, Honoka‘a is a special place where life moves at a slower pace and the quiet, simple lifestyle is cherished.

(c) Karen Anderson

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