Driving the Hawaii Belt Road

Mamalahoa Highway on the rainy side (Highway 19) used to pass through all the plantation towns on the Hilo and Hamakua coast: Pepe‘ekeo, Hakalau, Ninole, Pa‘auilo, to name just a few. Also called the Hawaii Belt Road, it follows some of the train tracks that were built to bring sugar to cargo boats at the wharf.

My brothers remember taking the train from Hilo with Apo, our grandmother, to visit her friends in Honomu. Our father was born and grew up in that plantation town, where Kung Kung had a Chinese dry goods store. But the sugar train was gone by the time I arrived, so to get the best coconut pies at Ishigo Bakery, we made the trip by car.

Driving the Hawaii Belt Road

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