Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens – Whatʻs Shakin Smoothie Shack
Hilo, Hawaii is the southern border of the Hamakua Coast and has its own flavor of seaside port commerce, plantation history, modern luxury and tropical lusciousness. The start of this bicycle route will take you through small historic towns, through plantation lifestyles, and deep within tropical overgrowth. Hamakua Coast bicycle ride is a historical bike tour, with the extraordinary benefit of beautiful ocean views, lush tropical rainforests and bike friendly route.
Right within Hilo, you’ll ride past historically significant locations, including the Halaulani Place District notable due to its architecture and societal influence. Notice a concrete overpass at Halaulani Place intersection that was one of 52 miles of permanent water flumes used to carry sugar and water between the fields and the mills for the Hilo Sugar Company. You’ll ride by an overpass that leads to the former Hilo Sugar Mill compound, now Wainaku Executive Center, a beautiful setting for events.
When you cross the highway and turn into Alae Dr., you find Honoli’i, one of the best surfing spots on the island. You’ll need to slow down for both the surfers and the vista. Take a beat to watch the surfers and waves. Look out upon both the Hamakua shoreline and Hilo Bay, before passing under Highway 19 bridge. Along this route you’ll find several bridges that are built upon the railroad tracks destroyed in the 1946 tsunami, like this one. Appreciate the amazing engineering feats that created the infrastructure to cross countless gulches and streams along the Hamakua Coast. Continuing past Honoli’i, the road meanders over three additional aging bridges, where you can enjoy waterfalls and tropical lush growth, only to emerge in a nice little neighborhood of Pu’u’eo.
Next point of reference is the quaint town of Pāpa’ikou village, complete with rubbish transfer station, bank, schools, chickens and a post office. A historic building of note is the BANK? now the Onomea Sugar Company headquarters. Also an interesting distraction is the Plantation Museum, situated in the historic Yoshiyama plantation store built in 1900. This attraction is super interesting and worthy of it’s entrance fee!
If you’re not an architectural or history buff, but more interested in East Hawaii’s lush tropical growth, you will be impressed as we meander down the four mile scenic route. Immediately, notice Aleamai stream with a single land bridge crossing and a house precariously sitting on its bank. Next segment descends into the gulch, where you’re flanked by tropical botanical growth. Climbing out reveals Onomea Bay, with the infamous (and fallen) Onemea arch and a distinct, beautiful vista where the ocean meets lava, complete with crashing waves and salty mist.
Rounding the bend is the Hawaii Tropical Bioreserve & Garden, which is an adventure itself. Founded by the Dan J. Lutkenhouse family, the garden encompasses 17 acres and has a lovely walking path. Riding out to the top of the gulch provides a spectacular ocean front view across the great Pacific Ocean. One more descent lands you in another gulch. If the single lane wooden bridge isn’t enough of a novelty on this segment, Hanawi Stream spans a turbulent river bed fed by a lava tube. On sunny days you can see through the tube with a burst of sunshine on the other side.
If all of these gulches have made you hungry, fear not! Just past the botanical garden are two smoothie shacks! Menu on the first includes great sandwiches and other local sourced foods, plus the best smoothie on the island. Once you hit Pepeekeo, Low’s Corner Stores may have beer in a cooler if that’s more your style. Finish this part of the journey strong by climbing the last hill up to the highway for perfect photo op by the historic Pepeekeo mill gear.
Distraction Ride: head down toward the ocean side for the sugar mill exploration route