Welcome to Waimea
Hawaiian cowboy country town with primarily residential single-family homes.
Since the founding of Parker Ranch over 160 years ago, Waimea has been home to cattle ranches and Hawaiian cowboys. The current size of Parker Ranch is over 250,000 acres, making it one of the largest cattle ranches in the country. Waimea is also known as Kamuela, the Hawaiian translation of Samuel, in honor of Samuel Parker.
Waimea is home to a diverse group of people, including ranchers and farmers, resort workers from the surrounding Kohala Coast (a few miles away), and astronomers who make their living at the several observatories atop Mauna Kea. The native paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) culture blends in nicely with Waimea's other well-known attributes, such as its excellent private schools, cultural programs, and farm-to-table cuisine.
What to Love
- Gorgeous scenery
- Top rated schools
- Cool temperatures
- Rolling hills
Waimea takes great pride in its paniolo (cowboy) heritage. It is home to a large farming and ranching community. However, there is more to Waimea than its ranching paniolo culture. Living in Waimea town puts you within easy walking distance of all the essentials. As the largest town in North Kohala, you can find everything from grocery stores to health food markets, clothes boutiques to coffee cafes in Waimea. Waimea is home to the headquarters of several major employers, including the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope and the Keck Observatory. Waimea is also home to several excellent schools, making it perfect for families.
At an elevation of 2,600 feet, Waimea is much cooler than coastal areas, yet it is only a short drive away from some of the island's finest beaches. You get the very best of both worlds in this town.
Dining, Entertainment & Shopping
The Parker Ranch Center is one of Waimea's most notable places to shop, dine, and have a good time. More than forty shops, restaurants, and services can be found within this shopping mall, which is anchored by Foodland and Healthways.
Waimea is home to a wide variety of fantastic dining options. Stop by Merriman's Big Island if you're in the mood for some of the best food in town. Peter Merriman, the restaurant's head chef and a three-time finalist for the James Beard Award for Best Chef, ensures that all ingredients used are locally-sourced and of the highest quality. Big Island Brewhaus, one of the top breweries on the Big Island, is a terrific place to spend a happy hour or a late lunch. In addition to its wonderful beverages, the menu also features a wide selection of Mexican and American dishes at affordable prices. There are many other excellent eateries in town, such as Red Water Café, Hawaiian Style Café, The Fish And The Hog, Pau Pizza, Aka Sushi, Moa Kitchen, FORC Restaurant, and Dom De Luca's Restaurant.
Things to Do
Parker Ranch, once one of the largest ranches in the United States, is a great place to learn about Hawaiian cowboys. There are various things to do in the area, including horse races and rodeos, hunting tours, and self-guided tours of the historic residences on site. The many priceless treasures, artifacts, and paintings that decorate the walls of these historic residences make them incredibly fascinating.
Travel back in time to the era of the Paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy). Artifacts, photographs, and genuine Hawaiian saddles are some ways the Paniolo Heritage Center brings the paniolo's narrative to life. Learn about the paniolo's role in the ranching history of Hawai'i and view some of the saddles they rode in at this heritage museum.
Waimea celebrates the blooming of its cherry trees each year with the Cherry Blossom Heritage Festival, which takes place in Church Row Park in February. Festival attendees can enjoy Japanese performances, a craft fair, and interactive displays of origami, traditional tea rituals, and mochi pounding.
Waimea Town Market is located in front of Parker School. The market has around 40 vendors providing fruit, hot meals, and other products. Indulge in French pastries from Hawai'i Tart Co., view orchids from Poppas Orchids, and eat a cooked breakfast at Mai Breakfast. The market's center has a grassy space with picnic tables.
Kamuela Farmers Market is at Pukalani Stables on Saturdays. Fresh fruits, trees, plants, prepared delicacies, cut flowers, popcorn, coffee, handcrafted wood products, and more are sold here. A percentage of market vendor fees goes to the Paniolo Preservation Society. Leashed pets are allowed, and the market also features live music.
Waimea falls under the Hawaii Department of Education School District. Top schools in this area include:
- Hawaii Preparatory Academy, Grades K-12
- Parker School, Grades K-12
- Kanu O Ka Aina - New Century Public Charter School, Grades K-12 & ungraded