Set in the Kohala region of the Big Island on the slopes of the Kohala Mountains, Waimea is paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) country. The town has many great places to eat and shop, and is also home to high technology enterprises.
Waimea town is also called Kamuela, and the two names are used interchangeably. The name Kamuela is said by some to refer to the town’s former postmaster, however most believe it refers to Samuel Parker, the grandson of the ranch founder of the Parker Ranch.
Waimea’s town center is located at an elevation of 2,670 feet (814 m) with cool, crisp air several degrees lower in temperature than coastal towns.
Driving through this picturesque area you will see beautiful horses in fenced pastures and cattle roaming over the ranch lands as far as the eye can see. In roadside paddocks are fine steeds including thoroughbreds and Arabians.
Though Waimea is a relatively small town it features modern amenities including a large shopping center, art galleries, museums, a variety of interesting shops and boutiques, and vibrant night life. The Kahilu Theater hosts concerts and films as well as youth programs.
Also located in Waimea is the prestigious Hawaii Preparatory Academy as well as the new state-of-the-art North Hawaii Community Hospital.
Surrounding Waimea town is the historic Parker Ranch which is Hawaii’s largest ranch and one of the largest private ranches in the nation. Headquartered in Waimea town, Parker Ranch covers about ten percent of the Big Island.
At the Parker Ranch Shopping Center in Waimea you can visit the Parker Ranch Visitor Center & Museum to learn more about its history. You can also purchase a ticket for the Parker Ranch Historic Homes tour visits the restored homes of the ranch founders and includes an impressive art collection.
Another ranch nearby Waimea town is Kahua Ranch, a working sheep and cattle ranch where visitors can participate in a variety of activities including horseback riding and ATV excursions. Kahua Ranch also offers evening barbecues with paniolo (Hawaiian cowboy) style entertainment.
On Church Lane in Waimea town is the historic Imiola Church which was constructed in 1832 and then rebuilt in 1857 using native koa wood. The New England style church features a memorial to missionary Lorenzo Lyons who designed the original church and served as its first pastor.
In the center of Waimea town is the W.M. Keck Observatory Office where international astronomers conduct research when they are not atop Mauna Kea volcano at the world-class complex of astronomical observatories.
A diversity of agriculture products come from the fertile soils of the Waimea area including lettuce, exotic fruits, strawberries and heirloom tomatoes as well as fresh beef and lamb. The farms and ranches provide high quality meats and produce for many of the island’s fine restaurants including Merriman’s and Chef Daniel Seafood Cafe in Waimea town.
Just a short drive from Waimea town is the Kohala Coast with great beaches and posh resorts. From Waimea town the drive to Hilo takes about seventy-five minutes and the drive to the Kona International Airport takes about forty-five minutes. Waimea is home to about 7,000 people.