Photo: Sunset

A sunset on Kauna'oa Beach at Mauna Kea Resort on the Big Island of Hawaii

Photograph by Douglas Peebles

Pop. 7,028
GPS: 20°1N; 155°38W

While many Hawaiian hot-ticket towns have gone the way of destination resorts, sleepy Waimea remains an authentically local retreat. Ranching is the big moneymaker here, lending a singular saddle-meets-surfboard vibe. Paniolos—the storied breed of Hawaiian cowboys unique to the Big Island—cross paths with beach bums every morning at Waimea’s four farmers markets and on the high-mountain trails outside town.

PLAY

Saddle up on the trails through nearby Parker Ranch: 50,000 acres (20,234 hectares) of rolling hills set against mighty Mauna Kea ($79 for a two-hour trip; www.parkerranch.com/hawaii-tours). Or ride the waves off of white-sand Kaunaoa Beach, which has reliable surf year-round. Nukumoi Surf Co. West Side rents boards ($25 a day; +1 808 338 1617).

EAT

Savor filet steak with Maui onion-marrow jam and hamakua farm mushroom sauté at Merriman’s (www.merrimanshawaii.com).

SLEEP

The Jacaranda Inn has cozy rooms with private porches framed by ivy and yellow hibiscus (doubles from $129; www.jacarandainn.com).

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