Introducing Hoʻokena & Around
Most tourists just zip by the turnoff for Ho'okena Beach Park between the 101- and 102-mile markers. But meander a couple of miles down to this fishing community and you'll discover a dark sandy beach locals love and are willing to share. The funky potluck (noon-4pm Wed) is a fun shindig where everyone brings a dish to share – try not to come empty-handed.
Hoʻokena was once a bustling village with two churches, a school, a courthouse and a post office. King Kalakaua sent Robert Louis Stevenson here in 1889 to show him a typical Hawaiian village. Stevenson stayed a week (this could happen to you!) and he wrote about Hoʻokena in Travels in Hawaii.
In the 1890s, Chinese immigrants began to colonize Hoʻokena. Shops, restaurants, a tavern and a hotel opened, and the town got rougher and rowdier. In those days, Big Island cattle were shipped from the Hoʻokena landing to market in Honolulu. When the circle-island road was built, the steamers stopped coming and people moved away. By the 1920s, it was more ghost town than boomtown.