I have an uncle who lives in Hawai'i, and he told me that the best way to experience the Big Island is, "if you see a road, take it." We followed this good advice and learned a couple of things. First, you can't get lost; it's an island after all, no matter how big. And, some of Hawaii's hidden treasures are at the end of these roads-less-travelled detours, just off the main highways.
Just such a place is the beach at Laupāhoehoe Point County Park on the scenic Hamakua coast on the east side of the Big Island. There are no water-sports here for those who value their life; just the rugged beauty of powerful open ocean swells pounding razor sharp rocks. There is a sobering monument to twenty students and four school teachers who drowned here in the surge of the 1946 April Fool's tsunami that rose 56 feet above sea level, attesting to the power of the deep blue. When you stand on the low peninsula, it suddenly makes sense why Hawaii's tsunami evacuation zones are so far up from the shore. There is no escape.
There is a broad green lawn and picnic facilities for families, with shaded tables. It's a great place for a lunch after exploring tidal pools and taking in the view. There are camping sites and outdoor showers as well.
Laupāhoehoe is a fitting name for the place, "lau" meaning tip or point and "pahoehoe" the smoothly rippling lava flows that formed the peninsula. The rocks on the shoreline are much more intimidating, however, jagged black-spired walls hold back the eternal onslaught of the ocean for a time. Even they will be no more than sand eventually.
In the winter months it's a likely place to sight pods of humpback whales just off the rugged lava point, as if they're on holiday, hoping to spot some humans.
Laupāhoehoe Point County Park is a 35 minutes drive north of Hilo, via HI-19 (Mamalahoa Highway). Take a right about a mile past the small community of Laupahoehoe (near mile marker 27) and follow winding Laupahoehoe Point Road for one mile (1.6 km ) to the parking lot.