The People’s Theater is one of the last surviving theaters from the plantation period on the Hamakua Coast. Built in 1930, this beautiful building’s 600-seat venue showcases new-release movies, live music, hula and live performance shows, and has a café in the lobby offering healthy lunch options, pastries, teas and artisanal coffee. Its free Wi-Fi attracts locals and visitors alike to its unique atmosphere and tasty offerings. Their website can be visited here, and for more information about the People's Theater and the NRHP, please click here.
Shop around on main street. Honokaa's main thoroughfare, Mamane Street, is host to an eclectic assortment of retail and commercial shops. Pay attention to the historical plantation-style buildings as you browse the town's Mom-and-Pop shops, memorabilia stores, restaurants and updated retail shops that cater to a one-on-one shopping experience. Many have been in the same families for many generations! Also, check out the Honokaa Business Association to find out about upcoming and special events - try to be there for 1st Fridays!
Visit the Old Haina Mill located below Honokaa town. At the Waipio (West) end of town turn downhill on Lehua Street to the Haina Plantation Camp and Mill. Here is a collection of “plantation era” housing provided to workers by the Honokaa Plantation Company.
The Lower Hamakua Ditch can be visited by driving shoreward on Lehua Street just across from the water plant. The Ditch is part of an elaborate irrigation system that transports water from sources above Waipio Valley through a series of tunnels and open ditches carved into the hillside, as far as Paauilo. It went into operation in 1910 and was used by the Hamakua Sugar Co. If you’re up for a hike, walk along the ditch for a while to appreciate the scale of engineering behind this century-old infrastructure (some parts are less accessible than others...).
Visit the North Hawaii Education and Research Center (NHERC) Heritage Center located on the mauka (mountain) side of town, uphill on Lehua Street. While small in size, NHERC is a great repository of the art and history of the entire Hamakua Coast, and Honokaa town, in particular. We at the Historical Honokaa Project are deeply indebted to the generous and dedicated staff at NHERC for their diligence in cataloguing and preserving the islands' heritage, and for their personal assistance in the research that has gone into the nominations for the State and National Registers. Many of the photos on this site are courtesy of their collection. Visit their website to schedule a visit or inquire about their temporary exhibits.
Honokaa Japanese Cemetery is located above the Waipio Highway about a half mile Waipio side of Lehua Street. As was customary, the cemetery was built on “waste land” (land not suitable for sugar cane production). The cemetery contains early burials of simple basalt markers as well as later, more elaborate Buddhist and Shinto monuments, and some western-influenced stones. Central to many Japanese cemeteries throughout the islands, a large obelisk is dedicated to the original immigrants who made their way to Hawaii.
The Goto Memorial, erected in 2010 in celebration of the 125th anniversary of Katsu Goto's arrival in Hawaii, is located directly across the street from Honokaa High School. Placed in the vicinity of this community leader's 1889 assassination at the hands of powerful townspeople, it is a somber reminder of the difficulties faced in forging today’s multi-ethnic and multicultural society in Hawaii. The murder resulted in one of the most famous trials in Hawaiian history, and has inspired two biographies and a play.