A month-long stay in the Hamakua and Kohala areas of the Big Island wouldn't
be enough time to experience all the incredible scenery, vistas, waterfalls,
hikes and small towns. This area has a range of annual rainfall from 6" to
140", and terrain that ranges from desert to lush tropical rainforest.
There is very little modern development so you can get a real feel of how people
have lived here for the last 150 years. Following are a few highlights of famous
or more well-known places, but be sure to ask your hosts in the area about
their favorite spots too, since this list is far from complete!
Hapuna Beach Park is one of the finest white-sand beaches in the world (top ten by Conde Nast). You park and walk down a paved path to the beach. There is very little rain here, about 6" per year, so this beach has practically guaranteed great weather. Sunsets at Hapuna are incredible! Maui can be seen 35 miles away. A covered pavillion, picnic tables, showers, restrooms and a small hot dog and cold drink stand make this an easy beach to visit.
Spencer Beach Park is a very protected beach, perfect if you have small children or don't like big waves. There are easy paths from the parking area and public rest rooms. At Spencer Park is Pu'ukohola Heiau (temple), Hawaii's most famous and largest heiau. Another small heiau as well as an information shack and nice trails to the coast are all at the same location. The history of these ancient temples built by King Kamehameha is fascinating. From this area you can see the four largest mountains from one spot: Hualalai, Mauna Loa, Mauna Kea and the Kohala Mountains.
Kawaihae is a commercial harbor, and home of the famous Kawaihae Canoe Club. A convenient store, galleries, a shop or two, a dive rental shop and a few restaurants are all located in a small shopping center. This is not really a town, but serves a number of residences and small housing areas, as well as the boating community.
Lapakahi Park is an ancient Hawaiian village. Paved paths lead down to the water's edge, with plaques along the way explaining about what you pass, native trees and their uses, native stone house platforms, etc. Hawi town is at the northern tip of the Big Island, and until the 1970's was a sugar farming community. Hawi (pronounced "Havee") has a couple of restuarants and shops and is known for a statue of King Kamehamaha. Windy Upolu Point is the northernmost point on the Big Island, with a beautiful view of Maui.
Pololu Valley is a beautiful valley cut out of about 400 foot cliffs by a small river that still meanders through at the bottom. There is a quite steep 30-minute hike to get to the bottom.
Waimea town, also called Kamuela , sits at about 2500 feet elevation and is home to the world-famous Parker Ranch , one of the largest working ranches in the United States. You can visit the Parker Ranch museum, the Kamuela Museum and tour the original homes and buildings. Waimea has some extrodinary restaurants, fast food and everything in between, as far as eating is concerned. The elegant Kahilu Theater has special productions such as musical groups, dance troupes, classical and modern plays, and in addition, runs popular movies during the summer months. Galleries and shops display much of the amazing array of art and crafts produced on the island.