The small town of Hakalau is located along the Big Island’s scenic Hamakua Coast between the towns of Hilo and Laupahoehoe.
Once a bustling sugar plantation town, Hakalau originally grew up around the Hakalau Plantation Company which later became part of the Pepeekeo Sugar Company and then the Mauna Kea Sugar Company before the sugar mill shut down in 1974.
Many plantation era buildings are still standing in Hakalau including the town’s old theater which is now the Hakalau Post Office. Flowing down from the slopes of Mauna Kea volcano is the Hakalau Stream. Visible near the mouth of the stream beneath the ocean cliffs are the ruins of the old sugar mill.
Today in the Hakalau area there are many small farms that produce a diversity of agricultural products including flowers, tropical fruits, coffee and taro. Cattle raising also occurs in the area.
A century ago Hakalau Bay was used as a transfer point for passengers and cargo from smaller to larger ships for transport. Today the bay is used mostly by fishermen and surfers. At the bottom of the Hakalau gulch is a small park with picnic tables and ocean access.
Above the town is the Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge which encompasses more than 32,000 acres on the slopes of Mauna Kea volcano. The Refuge helps to preserve a variety of native Hawaiian species including rare and endangered forest birds as well as endemic flora.
Hakalau is one of the many charming, small towns along the scenic Hamakua Heritage Corridor Drive from Hilo to Waipio Valley. Hakalau town is located about 15 miles (24 km) north of Hilo and is home to about 300 people.