Waimea is the biggest town on the North side of the Big Island. This part of the island is made out of the oldest of five volcanoes that make up the Big Island: Kohala. The climate here at 2500+ ft sometimes reminds of the Scottish highlands, with temperatures on average a bit cooler compared to the rest of the Island, and low clouds often obscuring the rolling lush pastures.
Our guide to Waimea is structured as follows:
Table of contents
Table of Contents
Waimea is Paniolo country, and home to some of the most stunning hikes on the Big Island. Paniolos are the Hawaiian cowboys, and Waimea is a great place to saddle up and explore the rolling hills or rugged coastline on horseback or with hiking boots!
Until recently, Waimea was a company town and its life was largely determined by the Parker Ranch. With 135.000 acres, the Parker Ranch is now one of the biggest cattle ranches in the United states. There lingers still a strong ranch-town atmosphere in Waimea. You can sample it in the many restaurants, gift shops and cowboy clothing stores that thrive in this community.
Why is Waimea sometimes called Kamuela?
There are 3 different towns called Waimea in the state of Hawaii. One valley on O’ahu, one village on Kauai, and Waimea on the Big Island. Because this is confusing a naming committee was formed to choose another name for Waimea. They decided to honor the Parker Family, who owns much of the land around Wiamea and has played a big part in Hawaiian history. “Kamuela” is the Hawaiian equivalent of “Samuel”. Samuel Parker (1853 – 1920) has a 3/4 native Hawaiian heritage and played a large role in Hawaiian politics during the assimilation of Hawaii into the United States.
Waimea is still the official name of the town, and if you speak to locals or read the road signs, Waimea is all you will see or hear. The only time that you will need to use ‘Kamuela’ Is when you will be sending letter by mail, or are researching information on Waimea online!
Read more about the history of the Waimea/Kamuela naming confusion in this interesting blog post.
Activities in Waimea
Waimea is primarily known for its cowboys heritage and a rodeo. There are however many more activities that can be enjoyed from Waimea. Nearby Waipiʻo valley for example is one of the most scenic places on the Big Island and offers stunning vistas and many miles of hiking trails to among others a black sand beach. Of course, there are also several options in town that you should not miss when passing through.
Read more about activities in and around Waimea.
Farmers Markets in Waimea
There are several farmers markets in Waimea where you can buy delicious fresh local products and a good breakfast. Market days are Saturday, Sunday, and Wednesday. You can find more information on Waimea’s farmers markets here.
Accommodations in Waimea
There are a few hotels or vacation rental options in town, but you can find some of the best bed and breakfasts on the Big Island in Waimea. Find out more in our guide to accommodations in Waimea.
Directions to Waimea:
Waimea is located in south Kohala and can be reached with a short drive from Kailua-Kona or by public transport with the hele-on bus. Hilo (56 miles, 1 hr 20 min), Kona (40 miles, 1 hr 10 minutes), and Volcano Village (85 miles, 2 hr 10 min) are all within easy reach with a car.
There are several “Waimea’s” on the Hawaiian Islands. One Waimea is located on the Island of Kauaʻi. Waimea Bay (the world-famous surf spot) is located on the Island of Oʻahu. Finally, The Waimea you are reading about now is located on Hawaiʻi island (the Big Island).
The weather in Waimea
If you want to see what the weather in Waimea means for your visit to Hawaii, check out the monthly average weather for Waimea. You can find information at that page on the average temperature, the hours of sunshine, the number of cloudy days, and precipitation.
For the current weather conditions and weather forecast for Waimea, have a look at the NAOO forecast.
Interactive Map of Waimea
We have added what we think are the most important stops and activities in and around Waimea on an interactive map. This map lists our highlights for the town of Waimea. Click any icon to find more information about that local activity, shop, or hotel/vacation rental.
Are you looking for the map of another part of the Big Island? We also have interactive maps of: