Things to See and Do

A Few Sites to See Along the Hāmākua Coast and South Kohala Area

The Hāmākua Coast begins just above Honokaʻa and continues south towards Hilo. It is home to a variety of attractions, including the scenic Old Māmalahoa Highway.


Waipio Valley

Camp Tarawa

From 1943-1945, over 50,000 U.S. Marines lived at Parker Ranch in Waimea and trained in and around Waimea and the Kohala Coast. These Marines went on to take part in some of the most important battles of World War II, including Iwo Jima. With the exception of a few buildings the camp no longer exists, however a memorial plaque with the story of the camp can be seen outside Parker Ranch.

Located at 66-1350 Māmalahoa Highway  in Waimea. Click here to view the Camp Tarawa Collection on Historypin or click here to view their website.


Hāmākua Jodo Mission

Hāmākua Jodo Mission was built in 1896, under the direction of Reverend Gakuo Okabe, making it the first sanctioned Buddhist temple in Hawai’i. In 1918, the temple was converted into a kitchen and dining hall and a new temple was erected. This new temple (also known as “konpondo”) was built by Umekichi Tanaka, a Japanese immigrant who was a miya daiku, a carpenter trained in building temples and shrines along with the help of many Japanese immigrant volunteers. This creation is an architectural marvel on many levels – from its design, construction (no nails) and intricately carved koa wood transoms and altar, it is a sight to behold.

Located 5 minutes away from Honokaʻa Town, there is also a cemetery located behind the temple which is the final resting place of Katsu Goto, a staunch leader of the Japanese community who lost his life fighting for the rights of immigrant laborers.

Click here to go to their official website or here to their Historypin website.

Filipino Exhibit

Katsu Goto Memorial

Erected in 2010 in celebration of the 125th anniversary of Katsu Goto’s arrival in Hawaiʻi. Placed in the vicinity of this community leader’s 1889 assassination at the hands of powerful townspeople, it is a somber reminder of the difficulties faced in forging today’s multi-ethnic and multicultural society in Hawaii. The murder resulted in one of the most famous trials in Hawaiian history, and has inspired two biographies and a play.

The memorial is located directly across the street from Honokaʻa High School.

Filipino Exhibit

Honokaʻa Japanese Cemetery

As was customary, the cemetery was built on “waste land” (land not suitable for sugar cane production). The cemetery contains early burials of simple basalt markers as well as later, more elaborate Buddhist and Shinto monuments, and some western-influenced stones. Central to many Japanese cemeteries throughout the islands, a large obelisk is dedicated to the original immigrants who made their way to Hawaii.

The Honokaʻa Japanese Cemetery is located above the Waipiʻo Highway about a half mile Waipiʻo side of Lehua Street. 

Boy's Day

St. Georges Cemetery

The original Catholic Church and Cemetery, St. Georges, was part of a much larger land grant from the Royal Hawaiian Government to George Hardy. Hardy, a ship carpenter born in Cornwall, England, had traveled to the European continent, Middle East, Mexico, New Orleans, and California, before settling in Hawaiʻi.

Before his passing, Hardy built his own mausoleum and coffin. Buried near him are other early Catholic pioneers, including a contingent of Portuguese. Walk past the gate, along the short gravel pathway, to this peaceful, quiet cemetery and view of the town and ocean.

Boy's Day

Lower Hāmākua Ditch


Since sugar is a “thirsty” crop, irrigation is a necessity. In 1904, two irrigation systems were proposed from the Kohala Mountains to the sugar cane fields – the Upper and Lower Hāmākua Ditches, 23 and 24 miles in length, respectively.

The Upper Ditch was completed in 1907, the Lower Ditch in 1910. Each Ditch required extensive tunneling, as well as ditch digging undertaken by crews of Japanese, Native Hawaiians, Koreans, and Chinese. Only the Lower Ditch remains in operation. Walk or drive down Lehua Street, Maile Street, or Honokaʻa-Waipiʻo Road-Mamane Street at Kia Manu to see this refreshing site.

Boy's Day

Kālōpa State Recreation Area

Located on the windward slopes of Mauna Kea, the park gets a large amount of rainfall. This rainfall creates an attractive and lush native forest. The 100 acre park offers trails of various lengths and difficulty through native forest. Incorporated into the large lawns are a wide variety of hibiscus. Enjoy a picnic in the covered pavillion, let the kids run on the wide lawns, and enjoy the beauty of the adjacent forest reserve.

Only 5 miles from Honoka’a Town, the park offers a tranquil place to spend the day.

The state park website offers camping and cabins for reservation.

Boy's Day

Laupāhoehoe Train Museum

The Laupāhoehoe Train Museum celebrates the story of Hawai’i’s railroad heritage, particularly the Hilo Railroad/Hawaii Consolidated Railroad, which operated from Puna to Hāmākua. The Hāmākua section of the line, because of the rough topography of the coast, was in its time the most expensive railroad ever built. The Museum is housed in the old station agent’s home at the Laupāhoehoe Train Station, the restored home is beautifully furnished in the period of the early 1900s. Throughout are displays, photos, memorabilia and stories that help bring Hawaii’s railroading past alive.

Located approximately 25 minutes from Honokaʻa, in Laupāhoehoe, HI.

Click here to go to their official website. 

Filipino Exhibit

Historic Laupāhoehoe Point 

This is the site of the former Laupāhoehoe School. It was here that the April 1, 1946 tsunami took the lives of 19 children and 5 adults. The names and ages of the victims were engraved on a memorial within the park. Just outside and below the park lie the remains of the lower portion of the town, decimated by the tsunami. Since designated a tsunami zone, this area has never been redeveloped. 

Located about 27 minutes away from Honokaʻa, half way between Honokaʻa and Hilo. 

Hamakua USO

Paniolo Preservation Society  

The Paniolo Preservation Society celebrates generations of paniolo and the Hawaiian ranching industry. The heritage center features a look back in time with a collection of images, artifacts and original Hawaiian saddles. Read the stories of the paniolo, including Nā Wahine Holo Lio Paʻu Museum, honoring the history of the paʻu riders.

Located approximately 20 minutes from Honokaʻa, in Waimea, HI.

Click here to go to their official website.  

Hamakua USO

North Hawaiʻi Farmers Markets 

North Hawaiʻi Island is an agricultural hub and is home to several Farmers Markets. From savoring produce at the peak of freshness to meeting the people who grow your food, there are countless reasons to support farmers markets. At the local farmers markets in Honokaʻa and Waimea you will enjoy locally grown produce, farm fresh goat cheese, fresh bread, locally produced honey and products made by local artisans. You can find a Farmers Market in the area on Wednesdays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Click on the name of the Farmers Market you are interested in to go to their official website:

Waimea Midweek Market – in Waimea

Hāmākua Harvest – in Honokaʻa 

Waimea Town Market – at Parker School in Waimea

Kamuela Farmers Market  – at Pukulani Stables in Waimea

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