Mamalahoa border

Hawaii Island's Scenic Byways

Hawaii’s Scenic Byways showcase roads throughout Hawaii that have an important story to tell to both local residents and visitors. These roads hold more than what meets the eye —their archaeological, cultural, historic, natural, recreational and/or scenic qualities are of statewide or national significance. Hawaii joined the National Scenic Byways Program in 2009, and participates with other U.S. States, National Parks and other Federal land agencies, Native American tribes as well as with Canada and Japan that manage their scenic byways to protect and enhance them through collaborations among government agencies and business and community groups.

Mamalahoa Kona Heritage Corridor, Hawaii Island

Hawaii’s first scenic byway focuses on nearly 16 kilometres of Route 180, Mamalahoa Highway between Palani Junction and Honalo on Hawaii Island. This Scenic Byway winds its way on the slopes of Hualalai Mountain and offers scenic vistas of Kailua Kona and the Pacific Ocean as it passes through Holualoa, passing historic structures, present day farms and art galleries. The scenic byway tells the story from the days of the indigenous Hawaiians’ use of this foot trail that passes through 25 ahupuaa (a Hawaiian concept that divided land into wedge shaped strips from the mountain to the sea, allowing for a sustainable system that would allow Hawaiians to use all resources of the land) to the contributions by immigrant cultures that arrived in the late 1890’s and early 1900’s. The Local Byway Sponsor, Pulama Ia Kona Heritage Preservation Council (Pulama), was established in 1997 to preserve, protect and enhance the special qualities of Kona and has been a champion of the understanding, cataloguing and presentation of Kona’s unique history and heritage. For more information contact Ms. Tomoe Nimori, Pulama's Vice President via email:


Donkey Mill Art Center ca. 1952

Donkey Mill

The story of the Donkey Mill starts with George Harada who discovered that as he met with farmers in his role as representative of the Soil Conservation Service, coffee farmers in Kona were facing an economic dilemma as coffee prices continued to drop. By the late 1940’s many farmers were considering leaving Kona. Mr. Harada with advice from the University of Hawaii Extension Service in Kona, formed the Kona Coffee Cooperative, the first farmers’ cooperative in Kona. The first project of the Board of Directors was to build a mill. A person who had earlier purchased the property of the Donkey Mill site from the Bishop Estate for $700 offered this property to the Kona Coffee Cooperative for $2,000. Members of the Cooperative contributed cash or bags of coffee to complete the purchase of the site and construction of the coffee mill in 1954.

In 2001 the Holualoa Foundation for Arts and Culture with generous support from friends purchased the Donkey Mill. Volunteers put in countless hours of work renovating the building with respect to its history and architecture and opened its doors in 2002. A visitor to the Donkey Mill Art Center will catch a glimpse of its mission to enrich lives of persons of all ages and abilities as they view exhibits of work by children, youth, and adults in the gallery. Studios of different art media are the settings for workshops, on-going classes and open studios led by local, national and international artists.


Nakamaru Family Coffee Farm and Dental Office ca. 1921


Ichitaro Nakamaru arrived from Japan and established a coffee farm in the late 1880’s. Prior to his son Kaname’s graduation from dental school a residence and a separate building for a dental office was built. Today the property is owned by Ichitaro’s grandsons, Bruce and Kent. Kent is also a dentist who has chosen to preserve his father’s original office as it was in the 1920’s. The dental office building, the tiny building to the left, is a Heritage Building furnished exactly as it was when used by Dr. Kanama Nakamaru. Today, a visitor can peer in through the door to view the original dentist's chair and equipment. The building adjacent to the dental office served as a family residence. After this building was no longer needed as a residence, it has served as an interior design center, art gallery and presently, Marla's full service beauty salon for visitors and residents.

Royal Footsteps Along the Kona Coast, Hawaii Island

Hulihee Palace

This byway is focused on the preservation and interpretation of the numerous significant archaeological, historic and recreational sites found along Alii Drive, along the Southern Kona Coast of Hawaii Island from Kailua Village through Keauhou. Travelers can explore the byway by car, bicycle or on foot to experience in eleven kilometres seven hundred years of history.
This byway was designated in 2010 and is sponsored by the Kailua Village Business Improvement District.

The Stories of Alii Drive: Royal Footsteps Along the Kona Coast

Ahuena Heiau

Alii Drive, what’s in a name? To the unsuspecting motorist, travel along Alii Drive on Hawaii Island is a very pleasant seven mile coastal drive filled with scenic vistas, natural resources and recreational opportunities. But look a little closer and discover that along these eleven kilometres of roadway hold seven centuries of Hawaiian history and culture revealed in the archaeological sites that have survived over hundreds of years.

The Alii, Hawaii’s royal class, were the ruler-caretakers of the islands. The great chiefs, through their strong genealogical connections, owned all the land in the areas they controlled. It was also their duty to communicate with the gods, seeking blessings of health and prosperity through fertile land and sea.

Kuemanu Heiau

Royal centers were compounds selected by the alii for their abundance of resources and recreation opportunities, with good surfing and canoe-landing sites being favored. Four of the seven royal centers in use in Kona are located on what is now called Alii Drive: Kamakahonu, Holualoa, Kahaluu and Keauhou.

Archaeological features of these various sites, for the most part, remain in place along Alii Drive and signal their monumental importance in Hawaii’s history and culture. There are many stories to share: of political intrigue, of love, of war, of triumph and of defeat. It was here, along Alii Drive, over centuries in time where chiefs of the highest rank walked.

Mokuaikaua Church

Historic sites once covered much of the Kailua to Keauhou section of the Kona Coast. It is important for us to honor the alii by maintaining, enhancing and interpreting the remaining ancestral inheritance. As a Scenic Byway, travelers along Alii Drive have an opportunity to learn the stories of today and the past seven centuries and to enjoy wondrous scenic, recreational and natural resources.

To Learn More 

The program is managed by the Hawaii Department of Transportation, Highways Division. For more information, visit 

For more information on the National Scenic Byways Program, visit