From Waimea town, begin driving east on Highway 19 and you will soon enter the lush Hamakua Coast on the windward side of the island. Short periods of rain will serve as your constant companion on the 50+ miles of Highway 19 between the towns of Honokaa and Hilo. For well over a century, sugar cane was the dominant industry on the farmland... along this coast because of the Hamakua District's fertile soil. That all changed when the Hamakua Sugar Co. closed its operations in 1994. It took a while for the local economy to get back on its feet, but small farms growing everything from bananas to sweet potatoes to orchids have slowly made a comeback along the beautiful Hamakua Coast.