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Getting Here and Around
Any turn off along this coast could lead to an incredible view, so take your time and go exploring up and down the side roads. You'll find small communities still hanging on quite nicely, well after the demise of the big sugar plantations that first engendered them. You'll find homey cafés, gift shops and galleries—and a way of life from a time gone by. If you're driving from Kailua-Kona, rather than driving around the northern tip of the island, cut across on the Mamalahoa Highway (190) to Waimea and then catch the 19 to the coast.
If you've stopped to explore the quiet little villages with wooden boardwalks and dogs dozing in backyards, or if you've spent several hours in Waipio Valley, night will undoubtedly be falling by the time you've had your fill of the Hamakua Coast. Don't worry: the return to Hilo via Highway 19 only takes about an hour, or you can go the other direction on the same road to stop for dinner in Waimea before heading back to the Kohala Coast resorts (another 25 to 45 minutes). Although you shouldn't have any trouble exploring the Hamakua coast in a day, a handful of romantic bed-and-breakfasts are available along the coast if you want to spend more time.
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