The Laupahoehoe we see now is very different from the Laupahoehoe of old. Laupahoehoe Point was a peaceful, Hawaian fishing village, untouched by missionaries and plantation life; the valley and the sea provided bountiful life. In the late 1800's one of the island's many sugar plantations was located there. Laupahoehoe was one of four deep harbor ports besides Hilo. Ships moored here to transport goods. Tourists braved the seas and skiffs to be unloaded here, just as they did with cattle, sugar, and other merchandise.
Slowly, with the influence of plantation life and more modern ways, the face of the area changed. Laupahoehoe town was located down in the valley where the old Mamalahoa Highway led you through this thriving community. Boasting restaurants, hotels, a coffee mill, soda works, livery stables, post office, it offers everything you could want in a town. In the 1920s the population of the village in Laupahoehoe grew to approximately 2,000. From 1912 people traveled by rail and would stop at the Laupahoehoe station and travel down to the Point on foot or by horse. Even back then tourists found refuge in this area's tranquility. Passengers on the train could get out of the rail cars and grace down through the valley, to the rough "leaf of lava" jutting out into the sea.
As people took the train more, less activity was seen in the town below. Slowly merchants moved their businesses out of the valley and to the mauka area we now know as Laupahoehoe. In 1946, a tsunami generated by an earthquake in the Aleutian Islands hit Hawaii, ending coastal rail services, destroying much of Hilo and killing 150+ people. Laupahoehoe lost 24 of its residents to the waves; many were students and teachers. Many private homes were demolished. Even though the school buildings were not destroyed the decision was made to move the school to higher ground.
From the era of Laupahoehoe Point being port of call and a thriving little community in its heyday, through it varied history, including the Tragedy of 1946, the point will continue to attract, with its enduring beauty, as one of Hawaii's most ruggedly picturesque areas.