Hawai‘i Island: Honoka‘a

Top reasons why Honoka‘a on Hawai‘i Island is worth a detour

Perched on the north side of Mauna Kea and not far from Waipi'o Valley (the ancestral home to Hawaiian royalty), the tiny village of Honoka'a might be best known as a convenient rest stop along Highway 19 for those driving from one side of Hawai'i Island to the other. The malasadas at Tex get no argument, but it's worth the half-mile detour to check out other great places to shop, eat, and play in this historic village.


The Honoka'a People's Theatre, built in 1930, offers everything from current movies to live performances (from local hula troupes to fundraisers with internationally known musicians). 45-3574 Mamane Street. 808-775-0000; honokaapeople.com. 

Stop at the Waipi'o Valley Lookout for a bird's-eye view of where some 40,000 Hawaiians once lived. The lush, 6-mile-deep valley has a black-sand beach and sheer cliffs-take the 4WD warnings seriously. At the end of Highway 240, 9 miles west. 

The town's First Friday in Honoka'a is a free monthly festival with live music, food booths, and arts and crafts vendors along Mamane Street from 5 to 8 p.m. hotelhonokaa.com/events.html.


At Honokaa Marketplace, Hawaiian quilts range from pricey handmade examples to less expensive machine-made items. Wearable souvenirs include a wide variety of honoka'a T-shirts and ball caps. 45-3586 Mamane Street. 808-775-8255. 

Owned by a family from Tibet, Hands of Tibet sells handmade Tibetan Buddhist meditation items from prayer flags to singing bowls. 45-3587 Mamane Street. 808-775-7747; handsoftibet.com.


For large ("broke da mout'" size) breakfasts and lunches, stop by Gramma's Kitchen, where a blackboard lists the specials of the day (ranging from macadamia nut pancakes to a blue cheese-bacon burger). 45-3625 Mamane Street. 808-775-9943; fb.com/grammaskitchenhonokaa. 

Café il Mondo bake pizzas and calzones in a stone oven. 45-3580 Mamane Street. 808-775-7711; cafeilmondo.com. 

In addition to house-made malasadas (there are usually a half dozen or so filling options), Tex Drive In serves inexpensive breakfasts, sandwiches, and Hawaiian plates. 45-690 Pakalana Street (at Highway 19). 808-775-0598; texdriveinhawaii.com.