7 Things to do in Waimea


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What to Know Before Visiting

Did you know that Waimea, nestled in the heart of Hawaii’s Big Island, is home to one of the few places in the world where you can experience all four seasons in just one day? Discover the unexpected in Waimea.

Nestled in the heart of Hawaii’s Big Island, Waimea is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered. With its stunningly green pastures, rolling hills, and the majestic Mauna Kea serving as its backdrop, Waimea offers a picturesque landscape that is distinctly different from the island’s coastal regions. This charming town is not only rich in paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) culture but also boasts a thriving arts scene, farm-to-table dining experiences, and some of the island’s most beautiful botanical gardens. Visitors are drawn to its cooler climate, friendly locals, and the sense of tranquility that pervades the air. Waimea is a place where nature and culture intertwine, offering a unique Hawaiian experience away from the hustle and bustle of the more tourist-heavy areas. Whether you’re interested in exploring the history of the Hawaiian cowboys, indulging in local cuisine, or simply soaking in the breathtaking landscapes, Waimea has something for everyone.

Ready to embark on an unforgettable adventure? Dive into the heart of Waimea and discover the top 7 things to do in this enchanting town on the Big Island. From thrilling outdoor activities to cultural experiences, your journey starts here.

Top Attractions in

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  • Old Puako Rd
  • 4.8 of 5
  • (5097 total reviews)

Nestled on the Kohala Coast, just a short drive from Waimea on the Big Island of the United States, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area is a pristine gem that beckons travelers with its stunning natural beauty. Renowned for its expansive, white sandy beach that stretches for half a mile, it’s considered one of the finest beaches in Hawaii. The clear, turquoise waters offer excellent conditions for swimming, snorkeling, and bodyboarding, making it a paradise for water enthusiasts. Beyond the water, the beach is backed by large dunes and shaded picnic areas, providing a perfect setting for a day under the sun. The park’s facilities, including showers and restrooms, ensure a comfortable visit. Whether you’re seeking a tranquil spot to relax and soak up the Hawaiian sun, an adventurous day in the waves, or a picturesque sunset, Hapuna Beach State Recreation Area delivers an unforgettable experience. Its natural beauty, combined with its well-maintained amenities, makes it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Big Island.

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  • Waimea
  • 4.5 of 5
  • (288 total reviews)

Kalahuipua’a Historic Park, nestled in the breathtaking landscapes of Waimea, Hawaii, United States, offers a unique glimpse into the rich cultural history and natural beauty of the Hawaiian Islands. This hidden gem is steeped in ancient Hawaiian history, featuring petroglyphs, fishponds, and heiau (sacred temples), which provide an insightful look into the traditional Hawaiian way of life and their deep connection with the land and sea. Visitors to Kalahuipua’a Historic Park can immerse themselves in the tranquil beauty of its surroundings, enjoy guided tours that bring to life the stories and practices of the indigenous Hawaiian people, and experience the serene atmosphere that makes this place truly special. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, nature lover, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat from the hustle and bustle of everyday life, Kalahuipua’a Historic Park in Waimea is a must-visit destination that promises an enriching and memorable experience.

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  • 525055 Akoni Pule Hwy
  • 4.8 of 5
  • (373 total reviews)

Nestled on the northernmost tip of the Big Island of Hawaii, the Kohala Forest Reserve is an enchanting destination that beckons travelers from Waimea and beyond with its lush landscapes and breathtaking natural beauty. This verdant paradise is home to the majestic Kohala mountains, offering a sanctuary of dense rainforests, cascading waterfalls, and scenic hiking trails that wind through the heart of ancient Hawaii. Visitors are drawn to the reserve not only for its stunning vistas and unique ecosystems but also for the opportunity to immerse themselves in the tranquility and spiritual essence of the land. The Kohala Forest Reserve presents an unparalleled adventure for nature lovers, hikers, and those seeking to connect with the island’s rich cultural heritage and history. Its untouched wilderness and the allure of exploration make it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to Hawaii, promising an unforgettable experience that captures the soul of the Aloha State.

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  • HI-270
  • 4.6 of 5
  • (575 total reviews)

Lapakahi State Historical Park, nestled on the scenic Kohala Coast just north of Waimea, Hawaii, United States, is a captivating destination that offers a unique glimpse into the ancient Hawaiian way of life. This coastal park is an archaeological treasure, featuring the well-preserved remains of an early Hawaiian fishing community. Visitors to Lapakahi State Historical Park can explore the partially restored ruins of this 600-year-old village, including traditional thatched huts and sacred sites, all while learning about traditional Hawaiian culture, fishing techniques, and plant life. The park’s stunning ocean views, educational walking tours, and serene atmosphere make it a must-visit for history buffs, culture enthusiasts, and nature lovers alike. Its ability to transport visitors back in time, offering a tangible connection to Hawaii’s rich past, is a compelling reason to include Lapakahi State Historical Park in your travel itinerary. Whether you’re interested in immersing yourself in ancient Hawaiian history, enjoying breathtaking coastal scenery, or simply seeking a peaceful retreat away from the hustle and bustle, Lapakahi State Historical Park promises a memorable and enriching experience.

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  • Waimea
  • 4.6 of 5
  • (384 total reviews)

Māhukona Beach Park, nestled on the northwestern coast of the Big Island, near Waimea, Hawaii, offers a unique and serene getaway far from the typical sandy beaches Hawaii is famous for. This hidden gem is a must-visit for those who seek a blend of history, adventure, and natural beauty. Unlike traditional beaches, Māhukona Beach Park is characterized by its rocky coastline, offering an exceptional spot for snorkeling and diving in clear, calm waters where a variety of marine life and underwater remnants of an old sugar mill can be explored. The park’s historical significance, coupled with picnic areas and breathtaking sunset views, makes it an ideal destination for families, history enthusiasts, and nature lovers alike. The absence of crowds adds to its charm, allowing visitors a peaceful retreat into nature’s embrace. Māhukona Beach Park is a testament to Hawaii’s diverse landscapes and cultural heritage, making it a compelling visit for anyone exploring the Big Island.

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  • 62-3601 Kawaihae Rd
  • 4.7 of 5
  • (1020 total reviews)

The Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, located near Waimea on the Big Island of the United States, is a captivating destination that offers a unique glimpse into the rich cultural and historical tapestry of Hawaii. This site is home to one of the last major sacred structures built in Hawaii before the western contact, the Pu’ukohola Heiau, constructed by King Kamehameha I in the late 18th century as a means to unite the Hawaiian Islands under his rule. Visitors to this historic site can immerse themselves in the ancient Hawaiian way of life, learning about traditional customs, the significance of heiaus (sacred temples), and the fascinating history of the Hawaiian Kingdom. The breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean and the opportunity to witness sharks in the waters below the heiau add to the allure of this sacred place. Whether you’re a history enthusiast, a culture seeker, or simply in search of a profound connection to the past, Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site offers a deeply enriching experience that is both educational and awe-inspiring, making it a must-visit destination on the Big Island.

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  • 44-5400 Daniel K. Inouye Hwy
  • 4.6 of 5
  • (842 total reviews)

The Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area, nestled amidst the lush landscapes of the Big Island near Waimea, United States, serves as a captivating oasis for travelers seeking a blend of natural beauty and cultural richness. This picturesque area, named in honor of the late Senator Gilbert Kahele, is a testament to the vibrant heritage and the breathtaking scenery that defines Hawaii. Visitors are drawn to this spot not just for its panoramic views and serene picnic spots, but also for its strategic location that offers easy access to some of the island’s most majestic sights, including Mauna Kea and the Hamakua Coast. Whether you’re an avid hiker looking to explore the nearby trails, a family in search of a peaceful day out in nature, or a photographer eager to capture the island’s enchanting landscapes, the Gilbert Kahele Recreation Area provides a perfect backdrop. Its blend of accessibility, natural beauty, and a touch of Hawaiian legacy makes it a must-visit destination for anyone traveling to the Big Island.

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  • Holoholokai Beach Park Rd
  • 4.7 of 5
  • (248 total reviews)

Nestled on the stunning Kohala Coast just a short drive from Waimea, Holoholokai Beach Park is a hidden gem on the Big Island of the United States that beckons with its unique charm and natural beauty. This picturesque park is renowned for its fascinating mix of rugged lava rocks and fine coral sand, offering a dramatic landscape that captivates photographers and nature lovers alike. Unlike the typical sandy beaches Hawaii is famous for, Holoholokai Beach Park stands out with its petroglyphs carved into the lava rock, providing a tangible connection to the island’s rich cultural history. Ideal for picnicking, shoreline fishing, and exploring tide pools teeming with marine life, it’s a perfect spot for those seeking a quieter, more introspective beach experience. The adjacent Puako Petroglyph Archaeological Preserve adds another layer of allure, making Holoholokai Beach Park a must-visit for anyone intrigued by Hawaii’s ancient past and natural wonders. Its serene beauty and cultural significance make it a captivating destination away from the more crowded tourist spots, offering a peaceful retreat into nature’s embrace.

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  • 1 N Kaniku Dr
  • 4.4 of 5
  • (383 total reviews)

Puakō Petroglyph Park, nestled on the Kohala Coast near Waimea on the Big Island of the United States, offers a unique and enriching experience for visitors interested in the rich cultural heritage of Hawaii. This hidden gem is home to one of the largest concentrations of petroglyphs in the Pacific, with over 3,000 ancient rock carvings etched by Native Hawaiians. These carvings depict various aspects of their daily life, including humans, animals, canoes, and even symbolic motifs, providing a fascinating glimpse into the past. A visit to Puakō Petroglyph Park is not just a walk through a natural lava rock field; it’s a journey back in time, offering insights into the beliefs, traditions, and everyday activities of Hawaii’s early inhabitants. The park’s easily accessible trails and interpretive signage make it an educational and engaging experience for history buffs, cultural enthusiasts, and families alike. The serene atmosphere and the spiritual significance of the petroglyphs also offer a moment of reflection and connection to the ancient Hawaiian culture, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking to deepen their understanding of Hawaii’s rich heritage.

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  • 62-3461 Kawaihae Rd
  • 4.6 of 5
  • (1258 total reviews)

Spencer Beach Park, nestled near Waimea on the Big Island of Hawaii, United States, offers an idyllic retreat for beach lovers and families alike. This picturesque park is renowned for its calm, crystal-clear waters, making it a perfect spot for swimming and snorkeling, especially for beginners or those with children. Its white sandy beach is framed by shady trees, providing a serene spot for picnicking or simply relaxing with a good book. Beyond the beach, the park is equipped with facilities that include camping areas, picnic pavilions, and showers, ensuring a comfortable stay for all visitors. The park’s proximity to significant cultural sites, such as the Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, adds a layer of historical intrigue to your visit. Whether you’re looking to indulge in water activities, explore Hawaiian history, or simply unwind in a beautiful setting, Spencer Beach Park is a destination that promises a memorable experience.

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  • 65-1120 Mamalahoa Hwy
  • 4.7 of 5
  • (330 total reviews)

Nestled atop the summit of Maunakea on the Big Island of Hawaii, the W. M. Keck Observatory is an astronomical marvel that offers a unique window into the cosmos. As home to two of the world’s most technologically advanced optical/infrared telescopes, this observatory stands as a beacon for scientists, astronomers, and stargazers alike. Visitors should seize the opportunity to explore this cutting-edge facility for a number of compelling reasons. Firstly, the observatory’s location atop Maunakea, one of the best astronomical observation sites on Earth, offers unparalleled clarity of the night sky, making it possible to observe celestial phenomena in stunning detail. Additionally, the educational programs and visitor experiences offered at the Keck Observatory provide fascinating insights into the workings of the universe, the technology behind telescopic discoveries, and the ongoing research that continues to push the boundaries of our understanding of space. Whether you’re an astronomy enthusiast or simply in search of awe-inspiring experiences, a visit to the W. M. Keck Observatory promises a glimpse into the infinite wonders of the universe, making it a must-visit destination on the Big Island.

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  • Honokaa
  • 4.7 of 5
  • (447 total reviews)

Waipi’o Valley, nestled on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island in Hawaii, is a breathtaking destination that should top the list of anyone visiting the area from Waimea or elsewhere. This majestic valley, often referred to as the Valley of the Kings, is steeped in Hawaiian history and culture, offering a glimpse into the island’s rich past. The sheer beauty of Waipi’o Valley is awe-inspiring, with its verdant, cliff-flanked landscapes, cascading waterfalls, and the vibrant, wild flora that thrives in its fertile soil. The valley’s stunning black sand beach, accessible by a steep road or through a rewarding hike, provides a unique seaside experience unlike any other. Adventure seekers, nature lovers, and those looking to connect with the authentic spirit of Hawaii will find Waipi’o Valley an unforgettable destination. Its combination of natural beauty, cultural significance, and the sense of adventure it offers makes it a compelling reason for anyone visiting the Big Island to explore this unparalleled paradise.

Most asked questions about

What are the top activities to do in Waimea on the Big Island?

In Waimea, visitors can explore the beautiful Waipio Valley, enjoy horseback riding at Parker Ranch, visit the Mauna Kea Beach, delve into history at the Parker Ranch Historic Homes, hike through Pololu Valley, experience the local farmers’ markets, and enjoy the scenic drive on Kohala Mountain Road.

Is Waimea on the Big Island a good place for outdoor activities?

Yes, Waimea is an excellent place for outdoor activities. Its diverse landscapes offer opportunities for hiking, horseback riding, beach outings, and exploring valleys and scenic drives, making it an ideal destination for nature lovers and adventure seekers.

Can you visit beaches in Waimea, Big Island?

While Waimea itself is more inland, it is very close to some of the Big Island’s most beautiful beaches, including Mauna Kea Beach, which is renowned for its white sand and clear waters, making it a must-visit for beach lovers.

What historical sites can be found in Waimea, Big Island?

One notable historical site in Waimea is the Parker Ranch Historic Homes, where visitors can learn about the history of one of the largest ranches in the United States and explore the homes of the ranch’s original families, offering a glimpse into Hawaii’s paniolo (cowboy) culture.

Are there any farmer’s markets in Waimea?

Yes, Waimea hosts several farmers’ markets that offer a wide range of local produce, artisanal foods, and crafts. These markets are a great way to experience the local culture, taste fresh Hawaiian produce, and meet local farmers and artisans.

What makes Waimea a unique destination on the Big Island?

Waimea stands out due to its lush, green landscapes, contrasting sharply with the island’s volcanic areas. Its rich paniolo (cowboy) history, combined with stunning natural beauty and a strong sense of community, makes it a unique and captivating destination.

Is Waimea, Big Island, suitable for families?

Yes, Waimea is very family-friendly, offering activities that cater to all ages, from beach outings and hiking to exploring historical sites and enjoying local markets. Its welcoming atmosphere and safe environment make it ideal for family vacations.

How do I get around in Waimea, Big Island?

Getting around Waimea is best done by car, as this allows visitors the flexibility to explore the town’s attractions and its surroundings at their own pace. There are rental services available for visitors who do not have their own vehicle.

What is the best time of year to visit Waimea, Big Island?

The best time to visit Waimea is from May through October when the weather is drier and warmer, making it ideal for exploring the outdoors and engaging in various activities. However, Waimea’s elevation means it enjoys cooler temperatures year-round compared to coastal areas.

Are there any guided tours available in Waimea, Big Island?

Yes, there are several guided tours available in Waimea that cater to different interests, including historical tours, nature hikes, and horseback riding excursions. These tours offer insightful experiences and the chance to learn more about the area’s culture and natural beauty.

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