Kamuela, also known as Waimea, on the north side of Hawaii’s Big Island is a favorite destination for hikers, horseback riders, and those just wanting to relax and enjoy a laid-back ranch-town atmosphere. Kamuela offers stunning views of the Kohala coastline, and if you are looking for a piece of Hawaii that is quiet and peaceful, then this is the place for you.
Kamuela is 32 miles from the Kona International Airport and 43 miles from the Hilo International Airport. For $2 you can ride the hele-on bus from either airport to Kamuela. If you plan on doing a lot of exploring on the Big Island, then renting a car would be your best bet.
Where to Stay
Kamuela is not a touristy area, so the Kamuela hotel selection is small. There are, however, quite a few Airbnb rental listings and a good choice of bed and breakfasts. Aaah The Views is a favorite bed and breakfast among visitors, while the Kamuela Inn Hotel is a quaint hotel with a country inn atmosphere that also serves bountiful breakfasts.
What to See and Do
Don’t miss the scenic drive along the Kohala Mountain Road to Hawi. Stop at the Pololu Valley Lookout, and enjoy the gorgeous coastal views of the Hamakua Coast.
Go stargazing while you’re in Kamuela. The Onizuka Visitor Center on Mauna Kea offers a free daily stargazing program. Start your trip while it’s still daylight to enjoy one of the famous Mauna Kea sunsets. If you don’t have a rental car, you can join a guided tour to the summit. If you drive to the summit on your own, make sure to stop at the visitor center on your way to the top to let your body get used to the altitude difference.
Golf lovers can take advantage of the Mauna Kea Resort’s golf course and the Hapuna Beach Prince Hotel’s golf course. Both 18-hole courses offer panoramic ocean views and are known for their excellent customer service.
Many Kamuela visitors also enjoy horseback riding on the Waipio Na’alapa Trail that runs through a lush green valley with rushing waterfalls, beautiful birds, and flowing rivers.
Waimea has three farmers markets, so don’t miss the local produce, jams, and food products they sell. You can also find a great breakfast at the markets.
Don’t miss having a beer at the Big Island Brewhaus, which is home to Hawaii’s highest beer garden. The venue also serves great Mexican food and features live music and open mic nights.
Merriman’s is the place to go for a romantic dinner and locally sourced food. Chef Peter Merriman has been nominated for the James Beard Award three times, andGourmet magazine chose his restaurant as one of the top five restaurants in Hawaii. Don’t miss his wok-charred ahi.
For local grinds, go to the Hawaiian Style Cafe for breakfast or a plate lunch. The Kahlua hash and the loco moco are favorite dishes.
Image via Flickr by eye of einstein