Though Hawi is just a small town it is one of the most populated towns on the Big Island’s north shore and home to most of the residents of the North Kohala district along with Kapaau town located just a few miles to the east.
Once a booming sugar plantation town, Hawi had four movie theaters during its prime. The economy changed significantly when the Kohala Sugar Company closed in the 1970s because most of Hawi’s residents worked for the company.
Today Hawi is home to about 1,000 people and its economy centers on tourism. The town features a variety of restaurants and shops including several art galleries. The picturesque town has a quaint charm that reflects its unique history.
Hawi is also the turn-around point for the bicycle leg of the annual Ironman Triathlon featuring competitors from all around the world. Nearby to Hawi is the Kohala Historical Sites State Monument which includes both Mookini Heiau and the King Kamehameha Birthplace.
One of Hawaii’s most scenic drives leads from Hawi up toward Waimea on s 27 mile route along Route 250. As it follows along a volcanic ridge the drive reaches elevations as high as 6,000 feet and takes in views of the rolling pasturelands, Mauna Kea volcano, the Kohala Coast, Kawaihae and the ocean beyond.