As the largest town along the Big Island’s scenic Hamakua Coast, Honokaa has a quaint main street that makes you feel like you are in the Old West. Lined with 1920s era wooden buildings, this main road is called Mamane Street (Hwy. 240) and gives the town an Old West feel.
Art galleries as well as local crafts and gifts shops in Honokaa provide interesting shopping opportunities. Movies, live theater and other events take place at the Honokaa People’s Theater which is located in a restored 1930 building. The historic Art Deco style building also hosts the Hamakua Music Festival every October.
Honokaa was once a booming sugarcane town due to the prominent Hamakua Sugar Company which was established in 1873 and closed in 1994. The town also was a center of cattle ranching operations. During its prime Honokaa was the third largest city in all of Hawaii behind only Honolulu and Hilo.
Today Honokaa is still a thriving town and is home to about 2,200 people. The population reflects the diverse heritage of immigrant sugarcane plantation workers who came from China, Japan, the Philippines, Portugal, England and Scotland among other places.
The economy of Honokaa centers around tourism as well as ranching and farming including many organic crops that are grown in the fertile pasturelands surrounding the town. Honokaa is one of the many charming, small towns along the scenic Hamakua Heritage Corridor Drive from Hilo to Waipio Valley.