Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Onomea Bay Scenic Drive, Hawai'i

It was early afternoon and we found ourselves in Hilo, Hawai'i


Hilo was an old fishing village and there are many historic buildings



We were actually driving up and down all the streets trying to find Joy's Gift Shop and found it by accident on the main drag in the tourist section


After we finished our shopping we headed north on Hwy 19 and I noticed a sign a few miles out of town pointing to a scenic drive, so naturally we had to explore. While not a long road the Onomea Bay Scenic Drive is a little gem. Too bad it was raining lightly so skies were a little overcast.

The following information comes from . . .


Scenic Drive Overview

"This 4 mile scenic drive on the Hāmākua Coast is a must do drive... we don't care if your here for less than an hour, you do this drive, ok?

We personally take this drive at least once a month - just for the sheer beauty that exist in these four short miles.

The road twists and snakes through a lush tropical rain forest lined with streams. Several stops allow for breathtaking views of the ocean, coast, and the collapsed Onomea Arch. The Hawai'i Tropical Botanical Garden can be found about halfway and a nearby interesting and short hike down the old donkey trail to the ocean provides you with stunning photographic and scenic opportunities."


"While this road is a regular, paved road, it is a bit narrow. The road also twists and snakes around tight curves and there are several one-lane bridges.

In some places the road, on one side, is a high natural rock wall with no shoulder. This means that room is tight on the road especially on curves. Do NOT speed on this road. The curves are tight and if you stray into the oncoming lane there is no room for them to get over.

Likewise for you -- if the oncoming car is speeding they will probably stray around the curves, be alert and drive extra slow so you have more time to react. Locals know that this road is scenic and thus expected to be slow. Any local on this road is here for the view too. Nobody is in a hurry - except tourists (go figure).

It is preferable to take this drive from the Hilo direction - if you do so you avoid having the rock wall and no shoulder on your side. This is also the most preferable direction to drive for easy access to pullovers for photographs and scenic views. Most of the views on this drive are makai (towards the ocean), which would be on your right if you came from the Hilo direction.

This is not a road to do if it is raining. You should do this road on a bright sunny day. Any time of day is fine though we personally prefer the morning because the additional sunlight helps penetrate some of the darker areas for better photos."

There is lots more to read on the site, and also there is a Donkey Trail (<-- click link)

It had just stopped raining so we did not venture down the trail, but it leads to the beach which was a former site of an original Hawai'ian village. The shores are also prone to flash flooding after rain storms.

I now attempt to show you parts of the road as we ventured onward


there are many one lane bridges. You have to be on the watch for oncoming traffic


The vegetation was lush and tropical.


We came across a small community of a few houses & a church which looked like they were being restored


The tree canopy covered much of the roadway


It was a delightful road just made for 2 wheels. All the while I was wishing I had my V-strom with me


The road was narrow, windy with no shoulders. I did stop a few times to take photos and was lucky that no other vehicle was around. I made sure to stop on the straight stretches and not on a blind corner

Finally we found our way to Onomea Bay



Not much further along was the road leading to the Onomea Donkey Trail, and to the beach below


I lost count of how many one lane bridges there were


Near the end of this scenic drive I noticed these . . .


but I don't think they are FREE range


  1. Bobskoot,

    Your many post about your Hawaii trip have been great. Your side trip to Onomea bay looks to have been worth it. Even with the overcast sky's it looks to be a beautiful place. Thanks for sharing. GAW

  2. Hawaii never really had a big appeal to me, resorts and what not, but your photos show a side of the islands, that I'd love to visit.

    Another great series and write up. I'm really enjoying these.

  3. A whole four miles? With four miles worth of warnings...So how many time sdid you drive it back and forth?

  4. Intriguing photos. I share Conchscooter's comment. Cool curvy roads but awful short!

    One thing I'm inspired to do even more as I looked at the rusting old building is to spend some time in an old downtown somewhere. It would be fun to take different photos and see how they turn out.

  5. Hey, even if it was only 4 miles, it still looks like a beautiful display of nature. It might take me awhile to get through it because I would be real tempted tio stop and just look and maybe take a picture or two.

  6. Dear Bobskoot:

    I can appreciate the difficulty and angst you experienced on your recent trip to the United States, which you have been good enough to share with a lot of people in this loosely joined electronic community.

    And what do they offer you for your trouble? Criticism... Sarcasm... Cheap remarks that ring hollow. And why? All because the road you offered to share with us was four miles long.

    I hesitate to point out that the produce aisles frequented by some west coasters (who recently discovered life illuminated by flash) are not as long as four miles. It pains me to point out that a winding road that runs for four miles through the highlands of a tropical paradise (seized at the height of manifest destiny) is about three and a half miles longer than "Peach Pitt Lane in Key West."

    And from you detailed photography, I have learned that the cocks in Hawaii stand tall, and do not skulk around in the bush, like is so common to Key West.

    I thinkyou should have your gall bladder removed, just to send a copy of the hospital receipt (3 Loonies) down to Conch. He'll be talking about it in his sleep.

    Fondest regards,
    Jack • reep • Toad

  7. GAW:

    I'm glad you liked our travels to Hawai'i . It's different seeing a place through someone else's eyes


    We don't like resorts or all-inclusives either. We like to explore and travel down those unexplored roads and snap pictures along the way. Every day was a new adventure in another direction

    Mr Conchscooter:

    You are on a small island with volcanoes all around. There are few roads. There is basically only ONE road which circles the island, with a few tributaries. The 4 miles felt like an eternity


    Most roads are shorter than 4 miles. There are not many roads over there.


    It is a beautiful place, pictures in every direction

    Jack "r":

    Every road on the Big Island is a twisty and perfect for 2 wheels. It's just that speed limits are slow and heavily enforced. They go through small towns and it is difficult to travel anywhere fast