Hakalau was once a thriving, multiethnic sugar 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 managers 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.
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Hakalau
- U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Hakalau Stream
- "Hilo Coast Processing Company". Hawaiian Sugar Planters' Association archives. University of Hawaii Library Special Collection. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
- "Zip code lookup—search by city". United State Postal Service. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
- "Hakalau Forest National Wildlife Refuge". official web site of United States Fish and Wildlife Service. Retrieved September 6, 2010.
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