This teensy Honomu, mauka, 2 miles off Hwy. 19, with tin-roofed houses, a café, an old plantation store, and a gallery or two, makes a nice interlude on the way to or from Akaka Falls.
Akaka Falls State Park, mauka, 3.5 miles off Hwy. 19, just past Honomu. About 10 miles from Hilo, this park actually has two falls: Akaka (measuring 442 feet) and Kahuna (about 400 feet). A paved, 1-mile path (steep in a few places but hardly impossible) leads through thick stands of ginger and yellow- and green-striped bamboo; a few banyan trees are thrown in for good measure.
Four-Mile Scenic Drive, makai, between Pepe‘ekeo and Onomea, off Hwy. 19. Take this little detour (also known as Old Mamalahoa Highway.) that runs more or less parallel to Hwy. 19 to enjoy better views of Onomea Bay and the quaint town of Pepe‘ekeo.
Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Gardens, Papa‘ikou, is off the Four-Mile Scenic Drive and about 8 miles north of Hilo. This 17-acre preserve is lined with walkways and lush with banyan and banana trees, orchid and bromeliad collections, streams, and waterfalls. In fact, there are almost 2,000 different kinds of plants and flowers, and trees.