Big Island: Places to Explore

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Waimea

Just up the hill from Kohala, past Saddle Road (the route to Mauna Kea), Waimea offers a completely different experience from the rest of the island. Rolling green hills, large open pastures, cool evening breezes and morning mists, cattle everywhere, and regular rodeos are just a few of the surprises you'll stumble upon here in paniolo (Hawaiian for "cowboy") country.

In addition to the horses and cattle, Waimea is also where some of the island's top Hawaiian regional cuisine chefs practice their art, which makes it an ideal place to find yourself at dinnertime. In keeping with the recent Big Island restaurant trend toward locally farmed ingredients, a handful of Waimea farms and ranches supply most of the restaurants on the island, and many sell to the public as well. With its galleries, restaurants, and museums, as well as Parker Ranch, Waimea is well worth a stop if you're heading to Hilo or Mauna Kea. And the short highway that connects Waimea to North Kohala (Hwy. 170) affords some of our favorite Big Island views.

Waimea or Kamuela?

Both, actually. Everyone knows it as Waimea, but the sign on the post office says Kamuela, which is Hawaiian for "Samuel," referring to Samuel Parker, the son of the founder of Parker Ranch. That designation is used to avoid confusion with communities named Waimea on the islands of Kauai and Oahu. But the official name of the town is Waimea.

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