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The Big Island of Hawaii - Waimea & N. Kohala

Updated on November 19, 2015
Kailua-KonaGirl profile image

June is from Kailua-Kona, Hawaii, but is currently residing in New York. She loves to cook naturally with plants from her garden.

Welcome to the Big Island of Hawaii Circle Island Tour

Aloha! E Komo Mai!

Hele Mai! Hele Mai!

The Big Island of Hawaii, also named Hawaii, is the most diverse of all the Hawaiian Islands. You can travel around the Big Island of Hawaii in one day and go from white sand beaches to snow-capped volcanoes; from cacti on cattle ranches to tropical rain forest; from black beaches to green sand beaches; and then on to live erupting volcanoes. All in one day!

But wait! You don't want to do it all in one day!

Relax, take your time, enjoy! There is so much to see and do on a Big Island of Hawaii Circle Island Tour!

Big Island of Hawaii Circle Island Tour Part 1 - Waimea & North Kohala

We Have Expanded

This hub grew so large that I was forced to break the tour into 6 segments to make it easier to view. Be sure to catch each bus (page) to see a different part of the Big Island of Hawaii on each one. On the bottom of each page will be a link to the next bus (page) to take you to the next portion of the tour around the island.

On this page, we will cover the northern part of the Big Island of Hawaii. We leave from Kailua-Kona and head north to Waimea.

Please remember to click the link at the end of the lens to continue to the next part of the Big Island of Hawaii Tour - the Hamakua Coastline.

Mahalo nui loa,

June - Kona Girl

Big Island of Hawaii - Part 2 - Hamakua Coast

Big Island of Hawaii - Part 3 - Hilo

Big Island of Hawaii - Part 4 - Volcano Area

Big Island of Hawaii - Part 5 - South Kona Coast

Big Island of Hawaii - Part 6 - Kailua-Kona

This is a Hawaiian Hale (House) - Tradition Requires You Remove Your Shoes Before You Enter

Eh! No Forget! You Gotta Remove Your Shoes Before You Go Inside

Now That You've Removed Your Shoes......

Stick Around for a While

It is well worth it to take your time and plan on staying for a while. There are so many unique and interesting things for you to enjoy while visiting the Big Island of Hawaii. You don't want to just drive around the island without stopping and miss it all!

Slow down....absorb the beauty!

Slow down and experience the diverse cultures and lifestyles of the Big Island; slow down and savor the exotic tastes and aromas that the Big Island of Hawaii has to offer.

Each part of the island that we visit has something different to experience; something different to cherish; and something different to create memories for you to take home with you!

Keali'i Reichel Sings "Kawaipunahele"

Press the play button and listen to the beautiful and heart-felt music from my home in Hawaii, while you take the Circle Island Tour of the Big Island of Hawaii with me.

Sing Along if You Like. The Lyrics are Below.

The Lyrics to "Kawaipunahele"

Mahalo Nui Loa to to Youtuber 808Productionz for providing the lyrics in both languages.

Nou e Kawaipunahele

Ku`u lei aloha mae `ole

Pili hemo`ole,

Pili pa`a pono

E huli ho`i kaua

E Kawaipunahele

Ku `oe me ke ki`eki`e

I ka nani a`o Wailuku

Ku`u ipo henoheno,

Ku`u wehi o ka po

E huli ho`i kaua

E Kawaipunahele

Eia ho`i `o Keali`i

Kali `ana i ka mehameha

Mehameha ho`i au,

`Eha`eha ho`i au

E huli ho`i kaua

E Kawaipunahele

Puana `ia ke aloha

Ku`u lei aloha mae `ole

Pili hemo `ole,

Pili pa`a pono

Ke pono ho`i kaua

E Kawaipunahele

English Translation:

For you Kawaipunahele

My never-fading lei

Never separated,

Firmly united.

Come, let's go back.

O Kawaipunahele.

You stand majestically

In the splendor of Wailuku.

My cherished sweetheart,

My adornment of the night

Come, let's go back.

O Kawaipunahele

Here is Keali`i

Waiting in loneliness

I am lonely,

I hurt

Come, let's go back,

O Kawaipunahele.

Tell of the love,

Of my never-fading lei.

Never separated,

Firmly united

When it's right, we'll go back,

O Kawaipunahele



I was born in Hawaii and raised in Kailua-Kona, which is located on the west side of the Big Island of Hawaii.

When I was a little girl, it was just a sleepy little fishing village and the soft, gentle breezes of the tradewinds that drifted in from the ocean kept the temperature at a balmy 86 degrees F. almost year round.

It was a different climate and a different time. The aloha spirit was everywhere and the ohana (family) and the aina (land) were the most important things in our lives.

When the fish were running and the taro and the breadfruit were plentiful; we were happy. We didn't ask for much and we didn't need much. Life was much simpler back then.

We will start the Big Island of Hawaii Circle Island Tour, by heading north to Kohala, where I will tell you a little about the diversities of this wonderful land that is my home. Kailua-Kona will be covered once we go around the island in Part 5 & Part 6 of our tour.

North Kohala Map


The map will show you the area that we are going to visit today. This is the most northern point of the Big Island of Hawaii.

Hele On to Kohala


Onward To Kohala

We will begin our tour by leaving Kona and taking the lower road known as the Queen's Highway, driving northwest to Kohala.

We will pass Honokohau Harbor and the Kona Airport. This strip along the beach use to be quite desolate.

We would camp at Pine Trees where we would fish and swim the day away. My uncles would play music, my aunties would cook and we would party!

Today there are huge golf courses and resort hotels. The hillside has exploded with the construction of million dollar homes.

Instead of continuing along the beach road we will head mauka (towards the mountains) traveling northeast through the "Beverly Hills" of Kona, Kona Palisades, until we get to the Mamalahoa Highway and head north toward the district of Kohala, and more specifically to Waimea - Kamuela.

When we return to Kona from the Circle Island Tour, we will revisit the beach road then on the last leg of the Circle Island Tour.

Waimea Video



Mauna Kea Observatory

Taking a side trip off the Mamalahoa Hwy. to Saddle Road, we can see Mauna Kea which is the highest mountain in the world.

Yes, even taller than Mount Everest by 10,000 feet, to a total of 32,000 feet, with 13,796 feet above sea level.

Mauna Kea, which is actually a dormant volcano, is measured from its base, just as Mount Everest is, however; its base is partly below sea level. It is the only place in the world that you can drive from sea level to 14,000 feet in 1-1/2 hours.

At the summit of Mauna Kea is the Mauna Kea Imiloa Astronomy Center of Hawai'i Observatory, home of the world's largest astronomical observatory for optical, infrared, and submillimeter astronomy.

The observatory is home to telescopes operated by astronomers from eleven different countries. There are currently thirteen working telescopes. In ancient times, our ancestors navigated by the stars that you can see from this observatory.

At the 9,300 foot level is the Ellison Onizuka Institute for Astronomy. These facilities were constructed in 1982 and were named in honor of Ellison Onizuka, the astronaut from Kealakekua, on the Kailua-Kona side of the Big Island, (where we call "up mauka).

Ellison Onizuka was one of the astronauts who died on 28 January 1986, when the U.S.S. Challenger exploded 1 min. 13 sec. after launch. The Onizuka family still operates their general store on the old Holualoa Highway (Route #180) by the coffee farms of Hualalai mountain.

Jade with Snowboard Stands on Top of Mauna Kea
Jade with Snowboard Stands on Top of Mauna Kea | Source

During the winter, we actually have snow at the top of Maunakea.

When my children were young, during the Christmas season, we would pack up the 4-wheel drive vehicles with coolers full of food, thermoses full of coffee and cocoa, and make the trek to the summit to play in the snow.

We made snowmen, had snowball fights, went sledding on pieces of cardboard and paipo boards. After lunch, when the coolers were empty, we refilled them with snowballs.

We would then drive back down the mountain and go to Hapuna Beach where we threw snowballs (which by then had hardened into iceballs) at our cousins on the beach. Auwe! Only in Hawaii!

Snow on Mauna Kea - On a Clear Day....

Our Winter Playground For Family Outings Before Going To The Beach.
Our Winter Playground For Family Outings Before Going To The Beach. | Source

Hawaiians in the Snow - What Happens When Hawaiians Encounter Snow....


"This is the average scene up at Mauna Kea when it snows....

Cold cold weather - check

Boardshorts and rubber slippers - check

Cooler with beer - check

Boogieboard, err, Hawaiian snowboard - check

Shovel to take snow home - check" ~ Charley Marley


Waikoloa to Waimea

Waiakoloa Parker Ranch Hawaii
Waiakoloa Parker Ranch Hawaii | Source

As we travel north on Mamalahoa Highway from Waikoloa to Waimea, we are heading to the most northern part of the island, through terrain that will remind you of the deserts of Arizona or New Mexico. You will see cacti, pampas grass and tumbleweeds for as far as you can see as we begin entering the Parker ranch area.

The Gate to Parker Ranch - Mauna Kea in the Background of the Ranch

The Gate to Parker Ranch
The Gate to Parker Ranch | Source
Parker Ranch
Parker Ranch | Source

Parker Ranch

Parker Ranch was the largest working cattle ranch in the United States until recently, owning over a half-million acres. Yes, it is even larger than Gage Ranch in Texas.

Over the years, the size as dwindled down (through development) to just 170,000 acres and continues to drop as more of the land is turned into housing development.

Parker Ranch got its start in the early 1800s, but didn't become a full working ranch until around 1840. The land was a gift from King Kamehameha I in the early 1800s.

It is also one of the country's oldest ranches, with almost 180 years of history. Trivia fact. Hawaii had cowboys (paniolos) before the west of the mainland US.

Hawaiian Paniolos (Cowboys)

Vintage Paniolo Photo at Parker Ranch from 1940
Vintage Paniolo Photo at Parker Ranch from 1940 | Source

As we get closer to Waimea, you can see the desert-like region changing into soft, rolling green hills of pasture land. Paniolos, Hawaiian cowboys, can be seen riding the range herding their cattle.

The paniolos were herding cattle years before the first cowboys appeared in the Mainland west. We can say mahalo, thank you, to the Spanish, Latin American vaqueros that came to Hawaii from Venezuela,

It was these vaqueros that came and taught the Hawai'ian people the roping and herding techniques to manage the wildly aggressive black longhorn cattle that had been running wild on the island.

The Hawaiian name, paniolo is a derivative of the word espanoles. Interestingly, the word cowboy, in the American West, came from the word gaucho, of the South American cowboy, from Argentina.

Paniolo Herding Cattle in the Ocean

Hawaiians Herding Cattle in Ocean
Hawaiians Herding Cattle in Ocean | Source

Transporting cattle was all done by ship at one time. The cattle had to be lifted by cranes onto and off of the ships. First they had to be herded through the sea water to the ships where they were hoisted on board. When disembarking, the were lowered into long boats one at a time. Often they didn't make it to shore in the small boats and had to be herded in the ocean to land.

Paniolo Lowering Cattle into Long Boats

Hawaiian Cowboy Moving Cattle to Shore in Rowboat
Hawaiian Cowboy Moving Cattle to Shore in Rowboat | Source

Kilakila Na Roughrider

Now that we're in cattle country, here is a fun, up-beat Hawaiian tune you can can listen to called "Kilakila Na Roughrider" about two Hawaiian cowboys.

Hawaii-Waimea-Ikua-Purdy | Source
Left to right: Archie Ka`pua, Jack Low and Ikua Purdy.
Left to right: Archie Ka`pua, Jack Low and Ikua Purdy. | Source

Ikua Purdy

Hawaii's Most Famous Cowboy

This is an old photograph of our infamous paniolo (cowboy) that the Kohala Trio sing about in the music video below called "Kohala Purdy's Ride".

One hundred and seven years ago, 3 Hawaiian paniolos were sent to participate in the Frontier Days celebration and rodeo in Cheyenne, Wyoming; Ikua Purdy, Archie Ka`au`a, and Jack Low.

Waimea's Ikua Purdy shocked the American West by winning the 1908 World Steer Roping Championship in 56 seconds. Archie Ka`au`a came in second (with a lame arm and severed hand) and Jack Low (with an asthma attack) placed sixth.

The haole (white) American cowboys were very upset about this. Little did they know, the Hawaiians had been roping and riding a lot longer as original cowboy's than the haole Mainlanders. The Cheyenne Daily Leader reported, "Here was something new - the idea of a Hawaiian cowboy defeating a real cowboy at the cowboy's own particular game .... "

Ikua remains Hawai'i's most famous paniolo. "His riding and roping skills are legendary. We sing his praises and boast about his skills in cowboy songs and hulas. His prowess with the kaula ili (rawhide lariat) is recounted during talk-story sessions at brandings and gatherings......" - The Paniolo Preservation Society

Ikua Purdy Statue in Waimea

Ikua Purdy Statue in Waimea
Ikua Purdy Statue in Waimea | Source

The Kohala Trio - The Sweet Sounds of the Grammy Winner Trio Kohala

Parker Ranch Rodeos

Every year on 4th of July and Labor Day, Parker Ranch holds its own rodeo. Throughout the year, they also host smaller amateur events at the Parker Ranch Rodeo Arena

The Parker Ranch Rodeo Arena is also home to a race track, polo fields, and bandstands. Huge dining tents are put up for the events which really make the rodeos, polo games and races great days full of fun. The rodeo arena has long been used by Big Island paniolo, family, friends, and fans for days of fun competition.

Parker Ranch also accommodates private parties on the ranch. No group is too large or too small. The ranch has seen many a wedding party over the years!

Hawaiian Cowgirls - Paniolas

Hunting Wild Game at Parker Ranch

Wild Hawaiian Goat
Wild Hawaiian Goat | Source

While visiting the Waimea/Kamuela area, you can take a tour of Parker Ranch with the Parker Ranch Cattle Country Tours. You can get more information by visiting their website.

They also offer horseback riding and hunting trips. When my family has gone hunting in the Parker Ranch area, they have come home with pheasant, wild turkey, grouse, quail, wild boar and wild goat. There is still wild cattle running around the mountains too.

Wild Boar Kill on Parker Ranch

Hunting Wild Boar on Parker Ranch
Hunting Wild Boar on Parker Ranch | Source

I had a stand-up freezer outside my kitchen door that was always full of game and fish. The only way you could starve on the Big Island is if you're too lazy to pick the fruit that grows wild, or to go fishing and hunting!

Hawaii Goat Hunting at Parker Ranch

Jacaranda Inn in Waimea - At Parker Ranch

Historic Jacaranda Inn Waimea Big Island of Hawaii
Historic Jacaranda Inn Waimea Big Island of Hawaii | Source

Stay in a garden cottage at the Hawaii's historic Ranch Estate of the Jacaranda Inn in Waimea at Parker Ranch.

Rooms and bungalows are exquisitely remodeled ranch house and bunkhouses. It's a favorite of the star gazers visiting the Onizuka Observatories at the top of Mauna Kea.

It is a superb home base for your Hawaii vacation on the Big Island, that is not very well know to the average tourist, making it a bit more exclusive, yet very affordable.

Every one of their rooms are so beautifully romantic, that it is difficult to decide which one I like the best.

I do really love the cottage with its river stone fireplace and the beautiful view off the lanai that overlooks the Kohakohau Stream and the Kohala Mountains. It is rather large for just two people as it has 3-bedrooms.

Hibiscus Room - Jacaranda Inn


I fell in love with the whimsical shabby chic feel of the Hibiscus Room, but visit the Jacaranda Inn website to decide which one you like the best.

A "must have" for breakfast at the Inn is their famous French toast made with Portuguese sweetbread and a pot of Kona Coffee. Yummy!

(BTW - I am not affiliated with the Jacaranda Inn. I just know that it is a place you would love to stay while visiting Waimea, Hawaii.)

Ke Ola Mau Loa Church, Waimea, Island Of Hawaii
Ke Ola Mau Loa Church, Waimea, Island Of Hawaii


District of Waimea, Big Island of Hawaii

The closer we get to Waimea, the higher in elevation we will climb, and the warm temperature can change drastically, to a much cooler, misty and foggy climate.

The cooler weather supports a different eco-system than the desert-like, cattle country area we just traveled through.

Looking makai (towards the ocean) you will see a lush, deep greenery that stretches out past the sloping pasture land, to the cliffs overlooking the deep blue ocean. The contrast of the green against the deep blue ocean is magnificent.

The waves sparkle in the sun as the white crest of the waves crash on the black shiny rocks. The site takes my breath away with the beauty and expanse of it all. The change from the desert-like region that we just left behind is quite a drastic, yet remarkable change.

Driving the Old Mamalahoa Highway Through Waimea

Old Mamalahoa Highway in Waimea
Old Mamalahoa Highway in Waimea | Source

Coming into Waimea, the scenery changes again as Waimea is home to many varieties of pine trees, eucalyptus and hardwood trees; such as koa trees, ohia, spruce and ironwood pine.

You can smell the pine and the eucalyptus mixed in with the scent of the koa wood and sandalwood trees, wild ginger and gardenias. Heavenly. The scent alone carries you into another realm.

The bright colors of the Bird of Paradise, orchids, hibiscus and hundreds of different varieties of ferns are everywhere showing through the fog that rolls in most every afternoon.

As you enter this northern town, you will notice an odd cross between an old Western town and Polynesia. You can still see hitching posts in front of some of the restaurants, saloons and the bank. The jungle gym at Kamuela Park has stirrups for handles, and several of the town stop signs read "Whoa!" instead of "Stop".

Waimea has grown extensively over the last decade or so as it now has two stop lights, instead of just one, and new shopping centers and homes have been developed. The homes being built in Waimea are $300,000 and up fee simple homes. These homes are being advertises to mainland people, not to the local island people.

Aerial View of Kamuela Town

Aerial View of Kamuela Town
Aerial View of Kamuela Town | Source

Hawaiian Style Cafe - Kamuela - The Best Local Food on the Big Island

Hawaii Hawaiian Style Cafe
Hawaii Hawaiian Style Cafe | Source

Real Da Kine Hawaiian Food

Authentic Hawaiian Food
Authentic Hawaiian Food | Source

Want to try some real Hawaiian food? Stop at the Hawaiian Style Cafe. This is were the local people eat. Very unassuming place, low cost and plenty food. This photo shows a "plate lunch" of Kalua pig, Lomi Lomi salmon, Chicken Luau, Chicken Long Rice and Poi.

There is usually a line and you have to add your name to the wait list (no one will tell you this), but it is well worth the wait. There is only one counter and a few tables and chairs. All the food is home grown, made in Hawaii, and local style.

They serve a mean breakfast too! Try the Portuguese sweetbread French toast.

Address: 64-1290 Mamalahoa Hwy, Kamuela, Island of Hawaii, HI 96743

Phone: 808 885 4295

Local Scenes of Waimea - Kamuela

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Welcome to Waimea SignWhoa Signs are used in Waimea - Kamuela instead of stop signs. A reflection of its cowboy lifestyle. Parker Ranch StoreParker Ranch Pasture - Yes we've noticed the resemblance to IrelandHuli Sue's Barbeque and Grill RestaurantHawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi lending a hand in Waimea to help spread wood chips on the volunteer-built Waimea Trails and Greenways project. Mauna Kea Sign - Beware of Invisible Cows
Welcome to Waimea Sign
Welcome to Waimea Sign | Source
Whoa Signs are used in Waimea - Kamuela instead of stop signs. A reflection of its cowboy lifestyle.
Whoa Signs are used in Waimea - Kamuela instead of stop signs. A reflection of its cowboy lifestyle. | Source
Parker Ranch Store
Parker Ranch Store | Source
Parker Ranch Pasture - Yes we've noticed the resemblance to Ireland
Parker Ranch Pasture - Yes we've noticed the resemblance to Ireland | Source
Huli Sue's Barbeque and Grill Restaurant
Huli Sue's Barbeque and Grill Restaurant | Source
Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi lending a hand in Waimea to help spread wood chips on the volunteer-built Waimea Trails and Greenways project.
Hawaii County Mayor Billy Kenoi lending a hand in Waimea to help spread wood chips on the volunteer-built Waimea Trails and Greenways project. | Source
Mauna Kea Sign - Beware of Invisible Cows
Mauna Kea Sign - Beware of Invisible Cows | Source


Historic North Kohala

Historic North Kohala
Historic North Kohala

Now we will head on to Hawi in North Kohala through the Kohala Mountains.

Hawai, Hawaii Home
Hawai, Hawaii Home

Hawi Town

The Most Northern Town on the Big Island

Hawi is a huge town of around 1,000 people, give or take a few, and is the birthplace of King Kamehameha I. At one time, this part of the island was quite a bustling center of Hawaiian culture and population because of the Kohala Sugar Plantation. Once the plantation shut down, many people moved away to either Hilo or Kona to find work.

Today Hawi and its' neighboring towns of Kapa`au and Makapala have become artist colonies. Many of the local residents now consists of the artists, those that are seeking alternative lifestyles, retirees and the Hawaiian families that have lived in the area for hundreds of years.

Global Warming Cafe

Global Warming Cafe - Hawi, HI
Global Warming Cafe - Hawi, HI | Source

Hawi is a quaint, colorful little village with unique shops, art galleries, and restaurants. You can find some really beautiful, unique pieces of artwork in this little town.

The most happening place in town for nightlife is the Bamboo Bar & Restaurant, which also serves some very good food with an Asian-tropical flair. Entertainment at night can range from fabulous Hawaiian music to local acoustic guitarists.

There is also a coffee/ice cream shop, called the Global Warming Cafe, which is pictured above; a bakery; a sushi bar, called the Sushi Rock Cafe, which is pictured below; a Mexican restaurant; a natural food store; a bookstore; a tattoo parlor; the local general - grocery store and a post office in this picturesque small town.

Sushi Rock Cafe in Hawi

Sushi Rock Cafe in Hawi
Sushi Rock Cafe in Hawi | Source

Activities around Hawi include hiking and biking. A little ways down the road, at the beautiful black sand beach of Pololu Valley the ocean activities include kayaking, deep-sea fishing, snorkeling, scuba diving, and whale-watching. The town is laid back, the people are warm and friendly, and the last time I was home, the beach wasn't crowded at all. Quite a lovely, serene place.

Bamboo Restaurant & Bar - Hawi's Largest Restaurant and Nightly Party Place

Bamboo Restaurant & Bar - Hawi
Bamboo Restaurant & Bar - Hawi | Source

This is the most happening place in Haw'i. Great food and great parties! Plenty of local entertainment in the evening.

Bamboo Restaurant

Hawi Wind Farm Hawaii
Hawi Wind Farm Hawaii

Hawi Wind Farm

Hawi Renewable Development, located at Upolu Point in North Kohala, began producing wind power in 2006. It provides power for Hawaii Electric Light Company (HELCO).

Upolu Point is considered to be one of the best places in the U.S. to have a wind farm because the wind is constantly blowing there. Come to think of it, I can only remember a hand full of times being at Upolu Point when the wind wasn't blowing.

It is difficult to realize how large these wind turbines actually are. When standing close to one, the sound of the blades can be pretty scary.

Watch the video below and you will get an idea just how windy this area actually is.

Upolu Point


The Village of Kapa`au

A Little History of Kapa`au

Kapa'au in North Kohala is another very small, quaint town. It is the site where the original Kamehameha the Great statue is erected.

In 1878, the statue was commissioned for the coronation of King David Kalakaua. The statue was cast in Paris and put on a ship for Honolulu in 1883. Unfortunately, the ship was lost at sea along with its precious cargo.

Another statue was cast and was sent to Honolulu, where it arrived safely and was placed in front of the Judiciary Building, where it remains today. The original statue was discovered in the Falklands and salvaged.

It was then shipped back to Hawaii and erected in the little town of Kapa'au, just a short distance from King Kamehameha the Great's birthplace.

Kamehameha Day

King Kamehameha the Great Statue in Kapaau
King Kamehameha the Great Statue in Kapaau | Source

Every year on June 11, on every island, Kamehameha Day is celebrated. Every King Kam statue on every island is covered with long leis and a parade is held in his honor. All of the beautiful floats in the parades can only be made of natural materials such as flowers, plants and seeds.

A royal court is elected to oversee the day's festivities. Everyone in the court dresses in the costumes of old Hawai'i. Each island is represented by an elected princess who wears the color and flower of the island she was chosen to represent.

The selected women will also ride in the parade on horseback along with their troops. The riders are called pa'u riders. A pa'u is a sarong style skirt made of many yards of fabric that is fashionably wrapped around and worn by woman horseback riders.

The pa'u rider is then adorned with leis and lei po'os (head leis) made of the flowers of the island. The women, along with their troops, will then ride on horseback in the parade. Often at the end of the parade there is hula dancing in the king's court. Each princess, or pa'u rider, will dance the hula for the island she is representing.

Once the parade has ended the celebrating begins and can carry on for days. There are luaus, arts & craft fairs, and hula dancing. Everybody eats, drinks, dances, plays games and music and just has a good time.

Pa`u Rider - Princess from Lana'i

Pa'u Rider Representing the Island of Lana'i
Pa'u Rider Representing the Island of Lana'i | Source

Sushi Rock Cafe in Hawi

Sushi Rock Cafe in Hawi
Sushi Rock Cafe in Hawi | Source

The Lana'i Princess pa`u rider is wearing leis of the kauna`oa, that represents the island of Lana'i, also known as the native dodder (cuscuta sandwichiana). It is a rare species that can be very difficult to find.

Kapa`au Banyan Tree House

Kapa`au Banyan Tree House
Kapa`au Banyan Tree House | Source


Bamboo Restaurant


Pololu Valley Mountain Range


Pololu Valley Hiking Trail

Hiking in Pololu Valley on the Pololu Trail

Pololu Valley is the end of the road for the northern tip of Hawai'i. It is a gorgeous valley, but the hiking can be treacherous.

The Pololu Trail in the valley is part of the Old Government Road that leads to an area called Awini where Kamehameha I was hidden from enemies in his early childhood. In 1758, the year in which Kamehameha is believed to have been born, his mother gave the infant to a chief who carried him to safety, through Pololu to remote Awini.

The trail begins where the paved Akoni Pule Highway ends at the top of the cliff. Here at the top you can look down onto the Pololu Valley and a beautiful black sand beach.

The trail which runs in a steep zigzag down the vegetated 420-foot cliff face can be very dangerous at times although hiking down the trail is a favorite pastime for adventurous visitors to the area.

Very few tourist will venture into the rough country farther south into the interior of the valley.

Zip-line Across the Pololu Valley Canopy

There are outfitters that will take you into the interior of the valley where you can cross swing bridges and zip line over the tree top canopy of the rain forest. If you are afraid of heights don't try this as the swing bridges can be very scary to people with altitude phobias. If you are more of the adventurous type, you will love this!

Wear sturdy hiking boots and bring along a light jacket or hoodie as it can be damp and rainy in the valley.

When Hiking in Hawaii


A backpack to hold your stuff.

Mosquito Repellent - The mosquitoes in the rainforest are wicked!

Hawaii Pololu Valley Black Sand Beach
Hawaii Pololu Valley Black Sand Beach | Source

View of Pololu Valley Black Sand Beach

This photo was taken coming down the main trail to the beach. If you stick to this trail the hike is a short one on a steep decline.

The return trip back up the incline can be strenuous if you are not in good shape. I wouldn't recommend it for anyone with a heart condition.

The swimming and surfing at the black sand beach are wonderful, and you will seldom find a crowd.

The beach is surrounded by the majestic lush green cliffs of the valley.

Pololu Valley Black Sand Beach

Hawaii Pololu Valley Black Sand Beach
Hawaii Pololu Valley Black Sand Beach | Source

This is a very secluded black sand beach that has some really good skin diving and fishing spots.

While swimming or camping on the beach, beware of the Portuguese Man-o-War. These beautiful blue jellyfish often make their way to the beach with the incoming tide.

They are gorgeous to look at sporting different shades of blue that appear iridescent in the sunlight, but they pack a terribly painful sting that can temporarily paralyze.

Do not try to rub them off with sand if you do find yourself wrapped in their tentacles. Doing so will rub their poison into the skin quicker. Human urine is the quickest temporary relief. You may have to make an emergency stop at the hospital for a shot if paralysis does start to set in or the pain becomes too severe.

Portuguese Man-o-War

Portuguese Man-o-War
Portuguese Man-o-War | Source

The Portuguese Man o' War (Physalia physalis) - We call this marine creature a jellyfish, but it really is not. They look like jellyfish and sting like jellyfish, but they are actually a siphonophore – a colony of four kinds of tiny, highly modified individuals, which are specialized polyps and medusoids.

Photos of Pololu Valley - Still as Pristine as Waipio Valley

Click thumbnail to view full-size


Mahukona Beach Park


We are now backtracking through Haw'i to go to the other side of the northern tip of North Kohala. There are several small beach parks along the way. There is Kapaa, Mahukona Beach Park and

We are bypassing Kapaa and heading to Mahukona.

A Brief History of Mahukona

In the late 1800s in North Kohala, the main shipping port for sugar cane was located at Mahukona. In 1889, a lighthouse was built to accommodate all of the shipping vessels coming into port.

The fog during the winter month's can get quite heavy, along with the rough seas, making it difficult to navigate the huge ships. Once the last sugar plantation was shut down, the thriving seaport, ceased to exist, however, the old pier from those by-gone plantation days is still there.

During the winter months, the ocean becomes inaccessible, due to the high surf, but it is still one of the best places to go to whale watch.

Regardless of the name, Mahukona Beach Park has no beach. The shoreline is very rocky, but it does have sparkling clear underwater visibility which makes it an excellent place to go snorkeling, diving, and fishing.

Divers love it here.

There is a shipwreck a little ways out that divers love to explore. The ship was an inter-island steamship, the S.S. Kauai. The ship sank on 12 December 1813 off-shore Mahukona. The ship's freight consisted of supply cargo for the sugar plantations, and passengers. The mooring pins broke during the winter's high surf and sank in the storm.

Camping is allowed at Mahukona, and it is a fantastic place to camp while fitting some diving or fishing into the schedule. I have always loved pitching a tent and spending a few days there, getting some diving in while catching some fresh fish, with a spear, for the evenings dinner.

It is a very relaxing spot and the diving is just awesome. Often you can swim with the bottlenose porpoise or watch the humpback whales birthing their young.

Not too far from the beach you can hike to the Maka O Hule Heiau. This heiau is called the Stonehenge of Hawaii. Watch the video below to learn more about it.

Birthing Humpback Whale

Another wonder of nature that can be seen from this part of the island are the humpback whales when they come into the protection of the bay to give birth. Watch this video of a mother humpback giving birth to her calf.

Dolphin Hand Carved in Hawaii - One-of-a-Kind Carved Dolphin

Hand Carved Hawaii Dolphin
Hand Carved Hawaii Dolphin | Source

Maka O Hule Point: Navigational Heiau - Stonehenge of the Big Island, Hawaii

Continue On to Part 2 of Our Circle Island Tour of the Big Island of Hawaii

Our Next Destination is the Hamakua Coast with a Visit to Sacred Waipio Valley.

Have Questions About Kamuela-Waimea or North Kohala? - Ask Away!

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    • darkflowers profile image

      Anja Toetenel 

      6 years ago from The Hague, the Netherlands

      What a great Lens, thank you for sharing all this wonderful information about the Big Island of Hawaii, loved it. I can't give likes anymore today, I reached the maximum so sorry about that! I've never been to Hawaii, it is definitely part of my wishlist now! Thanks for this amazing "tour"!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York

      @Unlimited11-11: A`ole pilikia. So glad you liked The Big Island enough to visit 3 times. Awesome. So many people go to the city (Honolulu on Oahu) or to Maui, they have no idea how diverse and beautiful The Big Island is.

    • Unlimited11-11 profile image

      Tom McHugh 

      6 years ago from Lake Champlain, Vermont, USA

      Aloha KonaGirl-

      What a beautiful lens! We just returned from our third visit to the Big Island, and already I can't wait to go back.

      Seeing the photos of Haw'i, Kapa'au and the beautiful Pololu Valley brought it all back to me.

      Mahalo nui loa,

      1111unlimited (Tom)

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York

      @Aunt-Mollie: I miss it very much. Thanks for stopping by.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Lovely! I'm still hoping to visit one day.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      I never knew it snowed in Hawaii! How you must miss your home state!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Such a lovely island. I was in Maui a few years back and was scheduled to visit The Big Island the next day; but hurricane Ronald changed my plans. Had to skip it and still hoping to get there one day.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York

      @Suzi63: Interesting you have been trained in Hawaiian style massage in Australia, rather than Hawaii. I hope you make it to the Big Island to be properly trained by the Hawaiians.

    • VspaBotanicals profile image


      6 years ago

      Wow, really beautiful!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Wonderful lens. Hawaii has been on my goto list for quite some time, great to be able to see & learn more here. I am a massage therapist by trade, specializing in the Kahuna massage & Lomi Lomi here in Australia, absolutely love the music by Kealii Reichel and also Israel kamakawiwo'ole who I believe has the best version of "somewhere over the rainbow" I use many of their songs during massage sessions :))

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York

      @VeronicaHaynes: Glad you found it useful, Veronica.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from New York

      @anonymous: I am sure he sings it, but to my knowledge he has not recorded it. The last recordings I remember by Hawaiians were by Al Apaka and later the Makaha Sons of Niihau.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a great lens. Been looking into Kamuela and Kohala as a potential place to move to, and this is by far, the best info I've come across. How exciting. Thank you!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Does Keali'i Reiche sing the Hawaiina wedding song?

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York

      @dellgirl: Dell Girl, you are just the sweetest! Mahalo nui loa!

    • LiteraryMind profile image

      Ellen Gregory 

      7 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      Great lens. I can see why this won a purple star

    • profile image

      mouse1996 lm 

      7 years ago

      Love your lens. I would love to visit Hawaii some day. It's so beautiful and I would just love to see in person.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      The beauty of Hawaii is amazing. It is like paradise. I hope to be able to see and enjoy it one day. Thank you very much for a look at such beauty.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi June, I'm back at this beautiful lens to find my Dream vacation spot. This is it! I've SquidLiked it before though...Blessed by a SquidAngel

      Wishing you all the best, Have a great weekend!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Amazing lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Amazing lens!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York

      @Mandy Stradley: I hope you get to visit it someday. Thanks for popping in.

    • Mandy Stradley profile image

      Mandy Stradley 

      7 years ago

      What an extensive and fabulous lens! I love Hawaii, and really enjoyed visiting the Big Island!!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Interesting topic! I like It!

    • flinnie lm profile image

      Gloria Freeman 

      7 years ago from Alabama USA

      Hi loved reading about Hawaii, photos like being on a nice tour of The Big Island of Hawaii,thanks for sharing.

    • Margaret Schindel profile image

      Margaret Schindel 

      7 years ago from Massachusetts

      Fabulous, beautiful and informative lens! I can't wait to continue the tour on your other lenses. Blessed by a SquidAngel. :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Looks like such a beautiful place - I'd love to take a visit there. Blessed by a SquidAngel!

    • poldepc lm profile image

      poldepc lm 

      7 years ago

      thx for your squidlike and comment

    • Pam Irie profile image

      Pam Irie 

      7 years ago from Land of Aloha

      Beautiful page on a beautiful island. It's been several years since I visited the Big Island. You make me want to go back soon. :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow! You make Hawai'i proud with your lens, sistah. Great stuff!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Loved your post. I went to Hawaii once and I have always wanted to go back. The people were so friendly, I really enjoyed myself.

    • Millionairemomma profile image


      7 years ago

      I am from Oahu so this lens makes me nostalgic!

    • Mamaboo LM profile image

      Mamaboo LM 

      7 years ago

      I love your lens! It's beautiful, well organized and wonderfully reflective of the Big Island! Thank you and be blessed!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York

      @CraftaholicVete: I am so glad you made it back from Desert Storm safely. I did get a chuckle, however, when you said, "have always wanted to check out the other Islands but you just don't do that stuff by yourself." I have done a lot of traveling on my own over the years, yet have never fought in a war in the desert. I'll bet you would not have a problem going anywhere by yourself, especially with your military training. LOL. Mahalo nui loa for the visit and nice comment.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York

      @dellgirl: Thank you, DellGirl, for the Pin.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York

      @delia-delia: Mahalo nui for the blessing!

    • sittonbull profile image


      7 years ago

      Hello June, Aloha and thanks so much for stopping by my lens with the nice comment and what is so rare as a day when June squid likes your lens? Thank you for that also. I've had the great pleasure of visiting Hawaii twice... once on R&R while in the army (mostly on Maui when the only hotel out toward Kapalua was a Holiday Inn and Lahania was still a laid back little village)... and then about ten years ago with a week on your "Big" Island and HQed on the Kona coast and a week in Maui. Rented a mustang convertible both places and only wish I'd had the benefit then of this amazing comprehensive lens to guide us around. As it was, we had an amazing visit to your beautiful Island anyway and as you so aptly describe... the diversity found on the big Island is nothing short of incredible. Hey BTW ... glad you liked that southern accent... a bit different from Minnesota You've got to be like a fish out of water transitioning from Hawaii ... to Minnesota??? That must be a whole 'nother story for another lens... and I expect you're happy to see spring and the beginning of summer! ;>) Yawl come back to see us now ... heah?

    • goo2eyes lm profile image

      goo2eyes lm 

      7 years ago

      hawaii is a beautiful paradise. you're lucky to be there. blessings and congratulations for winning the purple star.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I was in the neighborhood and decided to stop by the Big Island once again...can't believe it was back in 2009 that I was here and wasn't an angel then but am flying in angel dust today. I don't recall the Portuguese Man o' War and was arrested by the beauty of that picture!...*

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Useful information about Hawaii.Thank you for publishing this wonderful travel article.

    • CraftaholicVete profile image


      7 years ago

      I am so excited that I came across this lens, I was stationed in Oahu,HI when I was in the Army and I have always wanted to check out the other Islands but you just don't do that stuff by yourself. This was the next best thing! I loved it and am looking forward to the rest of the lenses. Thanks.

    • PennyHowe profile image


      7 years ago

      I have been to Hawaii, but not for a long time and never to the big island. After your lens, I have just added it to my bucket list. Awesome lens and very deserving of your awards. Thanks.

    • blessedmomto7 profile image


      7 years ago

      Gorgeous lens. How I would love to get to Hawaii some day!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      wanna to go there, the beach is so beautiful..

    • adriangood lm profile image

      adriangood lm 

      7 years ago

      i really want to go to Hawaii... i hope so

    • delia-delia profile image


      7 years ago

      Came back to give this beautiful and informative lens a....

      ~d-artist Squid Angel Blessing~


    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image


      7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      I would love to go to Hawaii, but do not know if I will ever get the chance, so thank you so much for sharing such a beautiful place! =D

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What an amazing beautiful place!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hi there, friend. I came back to Pin this beautiful lens on Pinterest.

    • KimGiancaterino profile image


      7 years ago

      I've only been to Oahu, but have many happy memories of visiting Hawaii. Your lens really makes me want to return.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Visited Maui last year and thought that next would be the big island. This is a terrific guide.

    • Wbisbill LM profile image

      Barbara Isbill 

      7 years ago from New Market Tn 37820

      Beautiful lens presentation.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Your photos of Hawaii are absolutely, beautiful. I wish I was there. : )

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful place.

    • MelonyVaughan profile image


      7 years ago

      This place is so beautiful it makes me want to just grab a backpack and go there! Nicely done!

    • ITCoach LM profile image

      ITCoach LM 

      7 years ago

      Nice sharing this furitful info nice hubbing

    • Herman IV profile image

      Herman IV 

      7 years ago

      Great lens! I've never been to Hawaii but have always wanted to go. This lens just makes me want to experience it even more! Thank you.

    • madoc profile image


      7 years ago

      I think this trip is going to take me more than a week, to do justice to your beautiful island (and your beautiful lenses)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      What a beautiful lens! thanks

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      wish i can visit this island....

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York

      @LaraineRoses: Mahalo nui loa for the blessing, Lorrain. I am so glad you enjoyed your visit.

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago from New York

      @AlleyCatLane: Mahalo nui loa for the nice comment and blessing!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Beautiful and interesting lens! Awesome photos, though I was so surprised to see pictures of snow in Hawaii...

    • LaraineRoses profile image

      Laraine Sims 

      7 years ago from Lake Country, B.C.

      Aloha, My husband and I have just spent about one hour reading this lens, watching the videos and wishing we were there. We have been to two of your hawaiian islands but not to this one. Right now, we are having very cold weather where I live in Canada and the thought of a vacation where it is warm really appeals to us. I will be reading your other lenses on your island soon. Angel blessings.

    • kTerrain1 profile image


      7 years ago

      Konagirl -- this is a fantastic lens! I love the Big Island and dream of going there again. Thanks for putting together such a nice page that makes me feel like I'm there, just a little.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Had no idea there was snow in Hawaii!!! Or so much diversity in the environment. Fascinating. Hope to visit one day. Blessed.

    • DeannaDiaz profile image


      7 years ago

      What a beautiful lens! I would love to visit but here I am stuck in the the Caribbean! Come and visit my Dominican Republic sites!

    • krakensquid profile image


      7 years ago

      Perfect lens!

    • mariaamoroso profile image


      7 years ago from Sweden

      A very very interesting island. Reminds me a lot of The Canary Islands where I lived. Made a lens about "my" island Fuerteventura. Thanks for all your really nice photos

    • BlueTrane profile image


      7 years ago

      I love the Big Island...returning this summer...after reading your lens I realize I haven't even scratched the surface of what it has to offer. Thanks!

    • norma-holt profile image


      7 years ago

      You were blessed to grow up in such a wonderful place. Thoroughly enjoyed the tour and the videos. Hugs

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      I'd LOVE to go Hawaii! Awesome lens!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow what a great lens! I didn't even know there were cowboys let alone snow in Hawaii! I'd love to have seen Hawaii as you described it in your childhood before all the massive development started taking place.

    • niceman91 lm profile image

      niceman91 lm 

      7 years ago

      I put one Hawaii as one of my list on romantic place to go for 2012 in world trends.It's great to have very useful insight on hawaii!thanks for the info :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Lots of good info. Very nice lens!

    • PearlHowie profile image


      7 years ago

      Wow - love the look of it all - especially Jacarana and the Banyan Tree. On my list!

    • robinrags profile image


      7 years ago

      Hey there Kona girl!! I already follow you on twitter still I wanted to include you as one of my "Thanks Pal" as you've enlightened me in numerous ways. - Thanks again and Happy Thanks Giving!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 

      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I have only been once to Waikiki. Wish we had gone to these places, too.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Hawaii is still on my list. Hopefully one day... Lots of great info here. Thank you!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Loved Oahu and Maui, hope to see Hawai'i and the other islands someday. Mahalo!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      hawaii is amazing! beautiful island

    • firstcookbooklady profile image

      Char Milbrett 

      7 years ago from Minnesota

      My sister lived in Hilo for 29 years. Her husband, Moses Kahumoku, still lives there, and her children. [she has passed on]

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Fabulous, I've bookmarked it and will come back! So much information. I have a friend who lives there and maybe someday I can make a trip!

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Okay! I am liker number 200! Cheers and wishes for many many more! :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Sun, sand, exotic beaches, snow! This has to be Paradise! This is an exemplary feature about a wonderful 'Treasure Isle'! Brilliantly done. :)

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      Very nice lens! Hawaii is amazing!

    • VarietyWriter2 profile image


      7 years ago

      Blessed by a Squid Angel :)

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Been to Hawaii many times and could not convince folks that it does snow there. Now I have pictures which will prove it. Lost all of mine in my many travel's. Cannot believe how the Islands have changed since the 70's and 80's. Must go back soon.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Well....the publishing houses must stop publishing traveling guides and start reading your lense!! i have read it once already and i must admit that i am feeling that i am in Hawaii, walking in a beach!!! :-) Excellent piece of work!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I have never been to Hawaii, but reading this lens felt like you brought me on a tour around the island!

    • Charmcrazey profile image

      Wanda Fitzgerald 

      8 years ago from Central Florida

      I was in Hawaii years ago and had a wonderful time. I'd love to go back, this lens is so tempting.

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Awesome lens! This really captures Hawaii

    • squid-janices7 profile image


      8 years ago

      What a gorgeous and comprehensive lens! Love all the pictures. I've been to the Big Island several times, but still haven't made it up Mauna Kea....on my list for next time because it looks amazing. Thanks for sharing all this great info!!

    • ZenandChic profile image


      8 years ago

      Ah, Hawaii, my heart. I just feel so good when I get in touch with Hawaii somehow. I would love to move there. I have only been to Kauai, which you probably know or I told you.. I love the land and how it knows you are there. I do not like poi, I must say. But I went to a Smith Family Luau and had kalua pig and it was very good. It is good to touch base with you. Aloha nui! Blessed this lens (:

    • pramodbisht profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens! Hawaii is one of my favorite places in the world

    • AsianMarketplace profile image


      8 years ago

      Your lens is soooo attractive and i'm find the Hawaiian Food particularly interesting

    • kimpaul profile image


      8 years ago

      Wow thanks so very much for your kind comments on my lens I'm honored! And could spend all day enjoying this lens! I think if I visited I'd never leave. It's like heaven there!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York

      @adityashinde: It is just so much fun to go up the mountain to the snow and then back down to the beach with a truck load of snow!

    • Kailua-KonaGirl profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from New York

      @darciefrench lm: You never know what the Great Spirits may bring!

    • Webcodes LM profile image

      Webcodes LM 

      8 years ago

      Aloha, magnificent lens representing the Big Island. I thoroughly enjoyed it.


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