Waimea, Big Island of Hawaii, Hawaii

The basics

To learn about Hawaii’s cowboy culture, opt for a horseback riding adventure, tour a working cattle ranch, or catch a rodeo or horse racing event. You’ll also find great hiking in the nearby Waipi’o and Pololu Valleys and stargazing at Mauna Kea. One of the Big Island’s most scenic drives, the Kohala Mountain Road heads out from Waimea and winds its way through rolling green pastures to the Kona Coast.

Waimea also boasts an award-winning brewery, several fine dining restaurants, and a couple of gourmet burger joints featuring locally sourced meat. Sample delicious local products and browse handmade jewelry and crafts at one of the town’s four weekly farmers markets.

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Things to know before you go

  • Learn about Hawaiian cowboy culture at one of Waimea’s working ranches.
  • Foodies won’t want to miss Waimea’s vibrant local food scene.
  • Waimea is located at a higher elevation, so expect cooler temperatures than the coast.
  • Several towns in Hawaii are called Waimea, so the Big Island’s Waimea is also known as Kamuela to avoid confusion.
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How to get there

Waimea is located in the northern part of the Big Island of Hawaii, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) northwest of Hilo. Waimea is most easily visited by car, but it is also accessible via the island's Hele-On Bus.

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When to get there

Waimea’s mild year-round weather makes it an excellent destination in any season. Farmers markets are open year-round, and the ranches hold rodeos and horse racing events on weekends during the summer months. If you want to avoid the crowds, visit the Big Island in May or September through November.

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Visiting Parker Ranch

Waimea’s Parker Ranch is one of the oldest cattle ranches in the United States. Visitors can tour the historic ranch homes and learn about Hawaii’s cowboy culture and ranch life at the Parker Ranch Headquarters. The ranch also offers guided hunts, horseback riding, and Fourth of July and Labor Day rodeo events.

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