We headed north out of Hilo after breakfast at Ken's. The drive to Kona takes just a couple of hours, but there are plenty of places worth a stop, so we took the whole afternoon.
Just a few miles north of Hilo, there's a four-mile scenic loop off the makai (ocean) side of the road. It's such a pretty drive that I took it three times this trip. The road winds around curves where you can see small waterfalls, the coast, and lush tropical greenery and flowers. One time, we pulled over where five or six cars were parked by the side of the road. There was a path down to the ocean, so we walked down it. It leads to a beautiful series of ocean coves. The path goes through a pay-to-enter botanical gardens, and a rather surly guard was posted to make sure nobody strayed off the path and into the gardens. We walked down to one beach and then on a path over a small ridge to the next one. The views were stunning. We met a woman who had an apron full of pieces of ocean glass she was gathering for her artwork. Sure enough, once I looked, I saw a lot of small pieces of glass and pottery, smoothed by the waves and rocks.
Back on the main road, we drove up the coast. The road is easy to drive and has some gorgeous views of the ocean and jungle. We took the turnoff to Akaka Falls (see separate review). On the way back to the main road from the falls, we stopped at the small town of Honomu. It has a couple of short blocks of small shops and eateries. We browsed a couple of galleries and cfaft stores and an import store with inexpensive gifts. Ar Mr. Ed's Bakery, I picked up some scrumptious brownies and cookies to snack on.
We drove right across the north end on the island, with just a brief rest stop in Waimea. Once back on the west coast, we pulled over at Hapuna Beach. This is a mile-long white sandy beach that is very popular. People were picnicking and boogie boarding. It looked like a pleasant place to spend an afternoon, but a bit crowded for my taste. So after a brief stop, we drove the rest of the way to Kona, and stopped again at Old Airport beach, which was much mellower.