A Guide to Staying in Waimea

Big Island Guide Travel Guide

A Guide to Staying in Waimea

Just an hour northeast of Kailua-Kona, the sleepy mountain town of Waimea on Hawaii’s Big Island is a remarkable alternative to the bustling tourist energy present in the larger cities. Also known throughout the island as Kamuela, Waimea is a hub where many rural communities gather. But the limited typical tourist activities and accommodations shouldn’t dissuade would-be visitors from seeking out this remarkable, picaresque Hawaiian town. There’s plenty to do, see, and experience throughout Kohala and the surrounding regions – it just takes a bit more planning to make it all happen. Here’s how to get started:

Staying in Waimea likely means a vacation rental (there are plenty from which to choose), but there are a few establishments offering a more traditional hotel/motel experience.

Waimea Gardens
65-1632 Kawaihae Rd
Waimea, HI 96743
(808) 885-8550

One of the finest B&Bs on the Big Island, Waimea Gardens is a beautiful, natural retreat from the bustling tourist areas of the island’s western coast. With private baths, wood flooring, full kitchens, luxury amenities, and the proximity to plenty of beaches, restaurants, and outdoor activities, there’s no better place to call home during your vacation.

Jacaranda Inn
65-1444 Kawaihae Rd
Waimea, HI 96743
(808) 885-8813

A large plantation-style house built on more than a dozen acres of ranchland, each of the inn’s rooms and suites include their own bathrooms and tasteful, homey decor. And with fewer than 22 guests at the inn at any given time, your stay will sure to be quiet, comfortable, and familiar.

Waimea Country Lodge
65-1210 Lindsey Rd
Waimea, HI 96743
(808) 885-4100

An authentic Hawaiian stay with plenty of paniolo charm, a stay at Waimea Country Lodge offers the amenities you’d expect from a hotel with enough country culture to go around. Located within walking distance of town, you’ll be centrally located to easily reach the Parker Ranch, Hapuna Beach, and the resort attractions available in Waikoloa Village.

Belle Vue Waimea
65-1351 Konokohau Rd
Waimea, HI 96743
(800) 772-5044

A bed and breakfast nestled hillside with stunning views of Kohala’s Gold Coast, the Belle Vue Waimea B&B is a private and comfortable stay that combines the expected amenities of a bed and breakfast with genuine aloha spirit. Private suites with living spaces, bathrooms, and lanais make for an at-home feeling.

The Kamuela Inn
65-1300 Kawaihae Rd
Waimea, HI 96743
(808) 885-4243

Positioned along the slopes of the Kohala mountains, this cozy inn is a tranquil and relaxing respite from the resort and hotel scene found on the island’s coasts. It’s an older establishment and the pricing reflects that, but many of the rooms have been renovated and improved over the years. Either way you look at it, it’s a great option for guests on a budget or those wanting to spend their Hawaiian vacation in quiet comfort.


Best known for its exquisite dining scene, Waimea is a food-lover’s paradise. Plenty of the world’s best chefs call the mountain town home, given the immediacy of incredible, fresh ingredients throughout the farming and ranching community and guests to the Big Island are encouraged to make at least one visit to Waimea’s many excellent eating establishments.

Big Island Brewhaus
64-1066 Mamalahoa Hwy
Waimea, HI 96743
(808) 887-1717

One of the few (and very best) breweries on the Big Island, this tiny shop in the middle of Waimea makes for a great happy hour or late lunch. Apart from the divine brews, a healthy dose of Mexican and American cuisine fills out their surprisingly affordable menu.

Merriman’s Big Island
65-1227B Opelo Road Kamuela
Waimea, HI 96743
Oon(808) 885-6822

A Hawaii institution that propelled the organic and island-sourced food movement, Merriman’s Big Island location is the small chain’s flagship restaurant and it shows. The attention to detail extends beyond the presentation and plating to the selection of ingredients, the vast majority of which are sourced in Hawaii itself.

Red Water Cafe
65-1299 Kawaihae Rd
Waimea, HI 96743
(808) 885-9299

A local favorite and a near-instant hit in the Big Island culinary scene, Red Water Cafe hosts an excellent, rotating menu that accommodates local availability and fresh catches from the day. Sushi, seafood, and steaks are all great options here, but for a special treat, check the Chef’s Carnivore Creation or daily fresh catch.


Parker Ranch Tour
One of the largest (and oldest) cattle ranches in the United States, the Parker Ranch near Waimea is a major attraction for those seeking an atypical Hawaiian adventure. While a free tour of the original property is available weekdays free of charge, a private horseback tours are available to book and offer an extensive tour of the property custom tailored to guest interests. With a full-time cowboy leading your tour, there’s nothing better than exploring this vast property from the perspective of a saddle.

The geography of the Kohala region that surrounds Waimea makes for an excellent opportunity to see one-of-a-kind scenery that only the Big Island can provide. From scenic lookouts to deep, lava-carved valleys, there are plenty of memorable hikes within a short drive of Waimea.

Through dense rainforests, over treetops and waterfalls, and across massive valleys expanses, there’s a reason why the northern end of the Big Island is known for its zipline tours. Multiple zipline tour companies operate in the area, so investigating what you’d like to see and how long you’d like to stay adrift should determine which you choose.

Despite its location at the foot of Mauna Kea, Waimea is within an easy drive of many of the Big Island’s most famous and attractive beaches. 20 minutes west lies the gorgeous Hapuna Beach, a world-famous white silica sand expanse that offers some of the best swimming and snorkeling on the island. The Holoholokai and Mauna Kea Beaches are just a few minutes further north of Hapuna, but an extended stay in Waimea will provide ample time to explore every beach within reach.

Near the Kohala Forest Reserve is one of the most memorable scenic outlooks in all of Hawaii: Pololu Scenic Lookout. Overlooking miles of dense, protected forests and staggering volcanic cliffsides, it’s a bit of a journey to reach (and an even greater committment to hike through), but the photo opportunity there is without comparison. There’s also the lookout at Waipi’o Valley, which is one of the deepest valley floors in the state and the site of many major film and television productions.

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