The best place to find out about the history of Honokaa as well as up to date information on places to stay,things to do and other useful information is the newly launched Honokaa Business Association website!
Honoka'a is a small historic plantation era heritage town nestled between the the rolling slopes of Mauna Kea, the chain of valleys to the North, including the regal Waipio Valley, and Hamakua Coastline to the east. The Hāmākua Heritage Coast comprises the Northeastern part of the Big Island continuing from Hilo to Honoka'a, and is surrounded by the tropical rainforest and many rivers and waterfalls that decend the slopes from the summit of Mauna Kea to the ocean cliffs. The climate is tropical, warm, and green enjoying an ideal sunny siting for agriculture due to it's deep soil and moderate climate.
There are deep agricultural and cultural roots of the Hamakua ahupuaa (land district), from the summit of Mauna Kea to the valley of Waipio ("valley of the kings") to some of Hawaii's first coffee plantations and then sugar and macadamia nut markets, the fertile slopes of Mauna Kea have grown and sustained the vibrant town of Honokaa. The town was bypassed by the new Highway 19, and when the Hāmākua Sugar Company closed in 1994 and the Macnut company moved not long after the pace of life in the rural community further slowed and preserved it's historic feel.
Once the 3rd largest town in all of Hawaii behind Honolulu and Hilo, this bustling plantation village was home to people from around the world, plantation workers, farmers, ranchers, entrepreneurs, military, entertainers and more, all nestled at the top of Waipio valley, ancient center of the Hawaiian culture. Uniquely preserved, Honoka'a town itself is listed as a "Heritage town," filled with vibrant culture still today. Most visitors make a stop here for shopping or to eat on their way to Waipio valley or to Hilo along the Hamakua coastline (The old highway has waterfalls, hikes and fun funky historic sites while the new Hwy 19 bypasses many of these sites and is a quicker drive) Honoka'a is a great place to stay off the beaten track on the Big Island to explore the forests and hiking along the Hāmākua Coast. For camping it is possible to book in advance cabins or campsites at at Kalopa State Park, a beautiful forest preserve above Honokaa town, or Hotel Honokaa Club is a charming historic building which has rooms ranging from very affordable to moderately priced.
Downtown Honokaa is easily walkable along the main street of Mamane street. The town today can be characterized by a strong community of oldtimers as well as forward thinking young agrarians, a multicultural melee with a strong resurgence of Hawaiian cultural appreciation and identity with the land. The town holds regular "First Friday" events every month where shops stay open late and music, performances and vendors line the main street after dusk. There is an impressive new skate park in town, as well as a nicely kept playground and park, track, sports fields and gymnasium. The closest beach is 8 miles away (Waipio Valley, 4wd only), a local state park and campground (Kalopa Park) nearby, and a regular farmers market every Sunday at the intersection of Highway 19 and Mamane Street.