Visiting Lapahoehoe Point on the rugged coastlines of the Hamakua coast on the Big Island
Lapahoehoe Point is such a gorgeous place along the Hamakua coasts with such a tragic past, it would be hard to enjoy all of this beauty if not for the points history that makes this area more significant to visit.
A short drive down to Lapahoehoe Point Beach park along the high cliffs of the Hamakua coastlines opens up to this beautiful peninsula and park developed from ancient lava rock flows and created this beautiful and flat peninsula jutting out from the coastline.
How to get to Lapahoehoe Point
Lapahoehoe point is right between Hilo town and Honokaa town along the Hamakua Coast. Drive 24 miles west through the coast highway 19 and exit at Lapahoehoe point (between mile marker 27 and 28) to the right and drive down the scenic and winding road one mile route to the point and into the park area. From Waimea the drive is about 32 miles to Lapahoehoe park.
A brief history of Lapahoehoe Point
Laupahoehoe, in Hawaiian means “leaf of lava,” and the area of Lapahoehoe thrived as an ancient Hawaiian settlement and fishing village that was left untouched by western civilization and the Missionary influence of the island in the early to mid-18th century where the village subsisted on fishing and agriculture to sustain itself.
Later, sugar plantations were built in the area above the point and used the lower section as a harbor port to transport cattle, sugar and other products from the island for export. The community thrived and Lapahoehoe developed hotels, restaurants, schools, coffee mill and other businesses in the surrounding area from the train station in town and down to the port harbor area. The Lapahoehoe Sugar Mill was established in 1883 and extended plantation fields around the Hamakua coastline and using the port to transport goods for import and export. During this time frame a railroad service was created to service the sugar mills along the Hamakua coast and connected to Hilo town and harbor area with extensive trestle bridges, tunnels and tracks heading directly to Hilo with over 3,100 tunnels built over the rugged terrain and gulches along the coast.
In 1946, a devastating earthquake from the Aleutian Islands came to the Big Island and tsunamis hit Hilo and the low lying Hamakua coastline areas killing 160 inhabitants in low lying Hilo of which 21 school children and 3 teachers in the Lapahoehoe point area perished. The three big waves of the Tsunami registering 56 feet and moving 490 miles per hour. With no alert systems at that time only 1 teacher and 2 students survive with the rest not found and pulled out into the ocean. Only the school’s chimney is still present from its location. There is a memorial on the park grounds that shows all the children and teachers killed by the tsunami of 1946.
If you visit the Tsunami Museum in Hilo, watch the video and displays of the survivors from the tsunami at Lapahoehoe and other low-lying areas of the Big Island.
Lapahoehoe as a park
Now Lapahoehoe point is set up as a park with a boat ramp and picnic areas for people to enjoy the grass and park grounds and locals use the park extensively during the weekends for barbeques and gatherings. Most of the local population lives above the park in the community of Lapahoehoe. The surf and waves pounding the point and various areas is beautiful to watch and photograph, but swimming is extremely dangerous with lots of rip tides in the area.
Amenities at Lapahoehoe
Picnic areas and pavilions
Boat launch area
Grassy lawn areas
Camping Permit Required
Pavilion permits are available for Day Use Only and must to be purchased separately.
Call 808-961-8311 for more info.
Other things to see around Lapahoehoe
Visit the Lapahoehoe train station museum
Stroll around Honomu town
Honoka’a town, gateway to Waipio Valley
Surfing fun at Honolii beach park
Have you been to Lapahoehoe Point?
Please share your thoughts and other recommendations in the comments below with your recommendations.
Thanks for visiting today and checking out this post on Lapahoehoe Point. I hope you are inspired to plan a visit and enjoy these wonderful attractions. If you enjoyed the images and post, could you please share it with any of the social media buttons located around the post.