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
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