Much of Northern Hilo on the Hamakua coast is former cane lands that cover lower slopes of Mauna Kea. A mix of crops such as tropical fruit, ginger, sweet potato, dracaena cane, corn, macadamia nuts, and agro-forestry have moved in to create a wealth of diversity where once there was only sugar.
The coastal route of the old highway is a postcard like example of old growth jungle with rushing streams and falls. Former cane towns are passed between vast open fields with little in the way of commercial centers or development. Here and there among the modest homes of former plantation workers are large estates with upscale houses, a portent of a possible demographic trend. For privacy, dramatic scenery, reasonably priced fertile land that requires little or no irrigation North Hilo is a sensible destination.