Most tourists zip right by the turnoff for Hoʻokena. But meander just a couple of miles downhill to this fishing community and you'll be surprised by a gorgeous bayfront beach that locals love and, more importantly, are willing to share.
Hoʻokena was once a bustling Hawaiian village. Novelist Robert Louis Stevenson wrote about his 1889 visit here in Travels in Hawaii. In the 1890s, Chinese immigrants moved in, 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, but when the circle-island road was built, Honolulu-bound steamers stopped coming and most people moved away.