This sleepy region of the Big Island includes the towns of Laupāhoehoe , Ookala, Papaaloa and Ninole. The 10-mile strip along the Hamakua Coast
traverses three massive gulches which are covered in lush tropical vegetation. The drive is quite stunning and well-worth it for the scenary alone.
Also included in North Hilo is the Mauna Kea Observatory, although to access this, one would have to drive to Saddle Road, which is located in South Hilo. Saddle Road cuts across the island and "saddles" the two mountains, Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa. It connects the east side of the island to the west side and is often very foggy and reaches up to 6,600 feet in elevation.
Things to do in North Hilo
Mauna Kea Observatory: Mauna Kea is the tallest mountain in the world, if measured from the sea floor. However from sea level, it towers to 13, 803 feet. Located on Saddle Road, where there are n, Halfway up the mountain in the Visitor Center where one can acclimate, watch the sunset from above the clouds, and listen to daily talk stories with astronomers. If you want to reach the top of Mauna Kea, 4 wheel drive is an absolute necessity. There are several observatories at the summit, and in the winter months, most likely snow. Caution is advised, altitude sickness is a possibility.
Saddle Road stops: If you are headed to the Observatory, or are cutting across the island, there are several stops to break up your ride. The Kaulana Manu Nature Trail is a beautiful well-maintained a/2 mile trail complete with sign indicating the fauna and a live soundtrack of native and endemic birds. Likewise, if you need to stretch your legs, the Gilbert Kahele Recreational park features a walking loop with exercise equipment, a large park, and a small natural trail as well. There are bathroom facilities and cabins one can rent.
Laupāhoehoe Beach Park: Located down a mile-long windy road cut into the cliffs, this beach park offers a large pavilion for picnicking, several spots for fishing, a boat ramp, as well as permitted camping. Although there are spots to jump in the water, it is not very safe for swimming or snorkeling. There is plenty of shade and the park is busy very often. There is also a remembrance plaque for those lost in the tsunami of 1946, which claimed the lives of 159 people.
The average rainfall for North Hilo ranges from 75-120", however, it entirely depends on your elevation. North Hilo falls in lava zone 8, second to only Kohala., which is lava zone 9.
Laupahoehoe Community Public Charter School K-8
The properties in North Hilo range from cliff side sprawling estates in Ninole to 1930s plantation "camp" homes on 7,000 sq feet to homes on large acreage dedicated to ag. The median home sales price in North Hilo in 2021 was $629,000. However, each town has its nuances and specific characteristics, which contribute heavily to the market price.
Distance to Hilo town: 30-10 minutes
Distance to Kona: 1 hour 30 minutes
Distance to beaches: The closest beaches are passed Hilo town, which is about a 30 minute drive. There is beach access in Laupahoehoe, however, it is not a great place for swimming.