Kohala & Waimea

The Kohala coast is a land of long deserts bending to bleached white-sand beaches, before giving way to the fuzzy grass hills of cattle country and the thick jungles of the north coast. Out here the wind howls a gale, the sun shines like a broiler, and a land of wild extremes waits to be discovered.

South Kohala is the archetypal sun-and-sea resort mecca. From Waikoloa to Kawaihae, Hawaiian history is preserved in ancient trails, heiau (temples), fishponds and petroglyphs – although all you'll see from the highway is stark lava desert and the edges of resort golf courses.

In counterpoint to the south's desert climate and man-made attractions, North Kohala is lushly otherworldly, with magnificent pastureland, quaint plantation towns and Pololu Valley's cascading cliffs. It proudly remains rural with nary a high-rise in sight. Waimea, a ranch town in between, is a central stop for cross-island travelers.

Top attractions

These are our favorite local haunts, touristy spots, and hidden gems throughout Kohala & Waimea.