Kamuela Hawaii

Located about 20 miles inland from the south Kohala Coast and a little more than 30 miles from the Kona Airport, the community of Kamuela Waimea is the largest town in the interior of the Big Island. The town was originally named Waimea, the same name as many other towns scattered across the Hawaiian Islands. It became Kamuela Hawaii at the insistence of the postal service, to eliminate confusion over which Waimea was intended when mail was sent. The original name meant red water, referring to the color of the water in the streams that flowed down from the forests of the Kohala Mountains.

The name Kamuela was chosen to honor Samuel Parker, son of the nineteenth-century stranded sailor John Parker and the founder of the Parker Ranch that is one of the main attractions of the area and played such an important part in the island's history. There is no sound for the letter S in the Hawaiian language, so Samuel became Kamuela. Today, most locals still refer to the town as Waimea or simply Kamuela, but Kamuela Waimea is the official name. There is also another ranch in the area that can make Kamuela travel worthwhile. This is Dahana Ranch, a working horse-breeding and cattle ranch that is owned and operated by native Hawaiians. There is horseback riding and hiking here, and the ranch offers Kamuela Waimea vacation packages that include airport transfers, room and board, and actual cattle and horse work, including participation in a cattle drive. These packages also include some area sightseeing and rodeo competition entry.

There are some Kamuela hotels in town, as well as several charming bed and breakfast inns. There are a number of dining spots, including the Parker Ranch Grill, with its paniolo cowboy atmosphere. These can provide the lodging for a rewarding vacation to Kamuela even though most visitors usually stay in the nearby Kohala Coast resorts and embark on Kamuela travel as a day trip.

If you're deciding when to go, events in Kamuela Hawaii include the February Cherry Blossom Festival. This is a particularly lovely time to stroll through Church Row Park for some hanami, the Japanese tradition of admiring the blossoms. Parker Ranch provides the town with a few festive occasions, including the prestigious July Fourth Rodeo and the Aloha Festival that features a lavish paniolo parade and a crafts show.

One of the things to do during your Kamuela travel is take your car rental on the scenic Route 250 drive. This drive crosses the lava flows of Mauna Kea to elevations of 6,000 feet above sea level at the summit of the Kohala Mountains. From here, the views of the Kohala Coast are spectacular. On a clear day, which is almost every day of the year up here, you can see the snow-capped summit of Mauna Kea, the largest of the volcanoes on the Big Island. The scenery of Kamuela Hawaii is quite different from one's idea of tropical Hawaii. It is a region of gently rolling bucolic pastureland, punctuated with breathtaking ocean vistas and the stark ridges of volcanic lava flows.

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