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Honokaa is a gem worth exploring

This vintage building is home to Honokaa Trading Antiques
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Waipio Valley is one of the most popular visitor destinations along the Hamakua Coast. If you’re making the drive between Kona and Hilo and plan to visit Waipio Valley, be sure to allow enough time to take a stroll through the little town of Honokaa and stop for a bite to eat.


Looking like it stepped right out of the 1950s, this former sugar cane town maintains that low-key charm. With just a single main street, you can easily park and wander your way through town.


Start with a cup of espresso at the Honokaa People’s Theatre Café, where they also serve light vegetarian breakfast and lunch. The theater itself is only open for evening shows, but you can peek inside the historic building that dates back to 1930 and see some of the architecture that’s still intact.


Head down Mamane Street for a variety of shopping options. Mary Guava Designs has a large collection of Hawaiian quilts, wooden implements, kitchenware, and clothing. Big Island Grown features the work of local artisans and producers; everything in the store was grown or crafted on Hawaii Island. Taro Patch Gifts carries an assortment of souvenir items, gifts, and cards. And if you love the scent of tropical flowers, stop in at Grace Flowers to pick up a fresh lei. At the south end of town, bargain hunters will enjoy poking around in Honokaa Trading Antiques, where vintage Hawaiiana is on display.


Your best bets for lunch or dinner? Café IlMondo or The Landing. You’ll have a good meal at either establishment; both are reasonably priced and casual.


Just up the hill from downtown Honokaa is Tex Drive-In where visitors can sample the malasadas (Portuguese doughnuts) they’re famous for.