Pepeekeo-Four Mile Scenic Route

See Some of the Most Breathtaking Scenery in Hawaii Along the Pepeekeo Four Mile Scenic Route
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Take a short, but unforgettable, trip along the four-mile-long Pepeekeo Scenic Route. You’ll travel through a coastal rainforest with picturesque views throughout the trip. Don’t miss the chance to experience this incredible road trip just north of Papaikou.

- The Local Expert Team

With its variety of habitats, Hawaii offers amazing views from almost anywhere on the islands. One of the most dramatic places to see outstanding scenery is along the Pepeekeo Scenic Drive. Though short, this drive includes views of beaches, tropical forests, and opportunities for photos at every turn.

The Pepeekeo Scenic Route takes you along the Old Mamalohoa Highway around Onomea Bay. Most people bypass this twisting road in favor of the wider, straighter Hawaii Belt Road that parallels it. Those who do choose to drive the Pepeekeo Scenic Route tend to drive slowly as they navigate the tortuous road and stop for pictures of the magnificent sights.

Intense rainfall and fertile soil supply the ingredients needed for the growth of the lush tropical forest along this road. You will see ferns, creeks, small falls, and stunning tropical vegetation not readily viewed on roadsides elsewhere. Crossing the creeks are small bridges. Do not stop on these bridges to take pictures. They only have space for a single vehicle. If you want to take pictures of the waterways under the bridges, drive to one of the unofficial pull-offs and walk to the area next to the bridges. Stay vigilant while walking along the road for traffic. Drivers may not see people walking near the roadway because they pay more attention to the scenery.

You will want to take this trip along the four-mile road slowly. Others on the scenic road typically do the same, however, some local traffic will drive at speed limits. Look for several unofficial pullouts on the road to park your vehicle if you want to spend more time looking at the scenery. Plan for at least one stop along the way to get out of the car and take pictures of the native vegetation.

Whether you choose to get out of your car to explore on foot or plan to roll down your windows for better pictures from your vehicle, plan to wear mosquito repellant. The high rainfall levels on the coast and warm temperatures create the perfect environment for biting insects to thrive. If you do not wear mosquito repellant, you could find yourself itching all the way back from your trip on this scenic route.

If you would also like to integrate walking into your trip along the Pepeekeo Scenic Route, travel the route to the trailhead for any of the area footpaths, such as Donkey Trail and Onomea Bay Trail. Wear comfortable footwear for traveling along these trails, which require downhill and uphill walking on a round trip.

Also along this scenic route is the Hawaii Tropical Botanic Garden. Though visiting the gardens requires an extra fee, many visitors to the scenic trail also add a trip to the gardens to their itineraries. The Hawaii Tropical Botanic Garden fills the space between the scenic route and the coast. While the walking trails run adjacent to the botanic garden, you cannot access the garden from these trails.

Sometimes visitors report accidentally stumbling on this route while driving through the area or on the way to the Hawaii Tropical Botanic Garden. These wayward visitors report feeling pleasantly surprised by the serendipitous side trip. However you get to the beautiful Pepeekeo Scenic Four Mile Route, you will feel rewarded for getting the chance to see unspoiled Hawaiian forests from the roadway.

The Pepeekeo Scenic Route takes you along one of the most beautiful drives on the Hawaii coast. When traveling along the coast north of Papaikou or Hilo, make the side trip to travel along this four-mile route for an unforgettable view of lush, ancient Hawaiian coastal forests.

Insider Tips:
-You get the best view of Onomea Bay from the inside of the garden or by taking one of the foot trails down to the bay.
-Many bridges along this route have room for a single vehicle, and the roads approaching the bridges often have narrow widths and tight curves. Use extreme caution when driving through the area.