Laupahoehoe, Hawaii County, Hawaii

Adjacently located to the turquoise waters of the Pacific Ocean, this little heaven on earth is home to breathtaking sceneries and cordial people. Laupahoehoe is situated along the lush Hamakua Coast of Hawaii Island, making it a haven to tourists who are escaping the bustle and the noise of the more popular but often crowded Hawaii destinations.

Curiously named "Leaf of Lava," the town remains as one census-designated place in the Hawaii County. This coastal town has a land area of 2.1 square miles or 5.377 square kilometers and set at the height of 400 feet above sea level. Generally a small town, Laupahoehoe is populated by 473 people, the larger percent being males (about 51.2% or 242 individuals) and the remaining percentage being females (48.8% or 231 individuals). The population is a hodgepodge of various races and ethnicities --- in fact, only 6.1% of its population are Native Hawaiians. In recent years, many Whites, Asians, and Hispanics have made Laupahoehoe their home despite the 37.00% higher cost of living when compared to other areas in the US.

Found at Hawaii Island's east coast, Laupahoehoe also receives its adequate share of rainfall. Places within the area get as much as 130 inches amount of rainfall a year. Being near the Pacific Ocean, hurricanes occur every now and then, although they do not occur as frequently as in places situated in South Pacific. However, regular rainfalls do not exactly make Laupahoehoe less appealing; if any, the wet factor of this coastal town only highlights its beautiful panoramas more.

Laupahoehoe's History

The significance of Laupahoehoe in Hawaii's colorful history is somewhat interrelated to the beginnings of the state's sugar industry and the construction of Hawaii Consolidated Railroad. Sugar was already abundant even before Captain Cook arrived in Hawaii's Big Island during 1778. It was said that it was a Chinese who first made sugar on the island, but it was during the period when Ladd & Co. was established that its sugar industry took off.

When the exportation of sugar proved a profitable venture, the need for a road and rail networks also grew; thus the construction of Hawaii Consolidated Railroad commenced. The first railway tracks of the Hilo Railroad (or Hawaii Consolidated Railroad) was financed by B.F. Dillingham, and runs from Hilo to Kea'au (then Ola'a). It was constructed for the Ola'a Sugar Mill, but soon extensions were built. The town of Laupahoehoe is among those places where the railway runs through. The railroad actually connects the places of Hilo, Mountain View, Laupahoehoe, Pahoa, and Paauilo. Operation of the then most expensive railway was stopped when a tidal wave wiped an important segment of the railway in 1946.

The tidal wave is another significant part Laupahoehoe's history, albeit somewhat tragic. When the tidal wave hit the coastal town around 7:00 AM of April 1 1946, about twenty students and three teachers were killed, and only three people survived to tell the story. The killer tsunami was the result of an earthquake that occured in Aleutian Islands. The tsunami was among the most destructive tidal waves the Hawaii Island and the town of Laupahoehoe ever experienced; it destroyed numerous important infrastructures and claimed many lives.

Laupahoehoe's Attractions

Laupahoehoe is famous for its amazing coastal vistas. Many artists and writers find inspiration in the serene and spectacular setting the seascape provides. Stunning displays of the rainbow can be seen on Laupahoehoe cliffs especially around rainy season. The Seascape Land Vacation Suite provides a cozy niche for people who want to bask in the Hawaiian sunshine and feast their eyes on the endless horizontal azure of the Pacific. Visitors who want to soak in the beauty of nature will find the Laupahoehoe Point Park a magnificent place. Perfect for romantic dates and family outings, the beach park is complete with lavishly green lawn, picnic tables for eating mouthwatering meals, and tidepools for anyone who wants to go for a dip. With the sight and sound of the rolling waves in the background, a day at the Laupahoehoe Point Park is an invigorating experience.

While in Laupahoehoe Point Park, visitors can also take a break from sightseeing to pay their respects and offer silent prayers to the students and teachers who lost their lives to the tsunami of 1946. An erected monument with engraved names of the people who died in that ill-fated day stand at the said park.

For people who want to immerse themselves with historical bits and pieces, the Laupahoehoe Train Museum is the place to go. This community-run museum pays tribute to the Hilo Railroad, also named as The Hawaii Consolidated Railroad. Since its opening on March 1, 1998, this little museum receives about 5000 visitors every year. The museum sits on the former station agent's house and exhibits many mementos and photographs chronicling the railroad's rich past. Visitors can view these artifacts or they can listen to interesting tales of the local residents who are more than willing to hark back and reminisce the good old days.

Laupahoehoe's Economy

As with the majority of the towns and cities in Hawaii, Laupahoehoe thrives on its local tourism. Having its own mind-blowing sights to boast, the town pulls a considerable number of visitors every year. Meanwhile, the town's farming and fishing are also two of its income sources. Taro plantations are abundant in the area while sugarcane, papaya, and macadamia nuts are also grown. Fishing is another flourishing trade for the locals, particularly tuna fishing.

While a good number of people remains loyal to agriculture and fishery, there are some who venture in other jobs such as in personal care services, sales, and management areas. Personal care services alone has a 32.8 employment percentage, followed by those engaged in sales with 21.7%, and management occupations with 20%. Other occupations also include construction and productions, that has 10% and 11.7% respectively.

Although there is a 4.47% job growth at present, Laupahoehoe still has a 3.80% unemployment rate as opposed to the 5% US average. Employment in the future looks optimistic though, as an 18.23% job growth is expected. Meanwhile, even with an increase in jobs, the town's poverty rate as of 2000 has reached 25.2%. Household income has reached $31,442--- about $13,000 lower than the $44,684 US average. The income per capita of Laupahoehoe is almost half of the US average $24,020, being at $12,788. The rate of income taxes is 10%, almost twice as high as the 5.02% average. On the other hand, sales taxes rate is 4%--- about one-third lower than the 6% average.

Laupahoehoe Statistics:

Population: 473
Households: 178
Median resident age: 42.9 years
Median household income: $29,250
Median house value: $116,900
Land area: 2.1 square miles
Elevation: 400 feet
Latitude: 19°58'N
Longitude: 155°14'W
Zip code: 96764
County: Hawaii

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