Hakalau is a small unincorporated community located along the Hamakua coast about 15 miles (24 km) north of Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii in the U.S. state of Hawaii at 19°53′49″N 155°7′35″W / 19.89694°N 155.12639°W / 19.89694; -155.12639Coordinates: 19°53′49″N 155°7′35″W / 19.89694°N 155.12639°W / 19.89694; -155.12639.
The Hakalau Stream flows from the slopes of Mauna Kea, in the area of 19°48′55″N 155°21′55″W / 19.81528°N 155.36528°W / 19.81528; -155.36528 (Hakalau Stream source) and flows into the Pacific Ocean.
Hakalau was once a thriving, multiethnic sugarcane plantation town up until the early 1960s when the plantation originally called Hakalau Plantation Company began to decline. In 1963 it was merged into the Pepeʻekeo Sugar Company, in 1973 merged into the Mauna Kea Sugar Company, and the mill shut down in 1974.
Small family farms now grow tropical fruits, taro, flowers, coffee, or cattle. Some historic sites remain from the plantation era. The privately owned sugar plantation manager's home, built in the early 20th century, still exists, along with two warehouses built in 1920 and an old theater, operating as the Hakalau post office, postal code 96710. Located just below the ocean cliff where the Hakalau stream meets the bay, the old sugar mill ruins are still visible.
During the 19th century the Hakalau Bay was used to transfer goods and passengers from smaller boats to larger ships. Today, the bay is used mostly by local surfers and fisherman. Hakalau now has a small, day use, county owned park with picnic tables and ocean access for recreational use, located at the bottom of the Hakalau gulch.
The Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge protects 32,733 acres (132.47 km2), located on the Mauna Kea slopes above the town.
Located nearby is the World Botanical Gardens (WBGI) on which Steve Gustafson installed the Hakalau Zip-line tour via his company Experience Based Learning (EBL). Because he was stiffed for his costs by the new management team of WBGI, he has disavowed responsibility for its safety.