Published: October 2009Best Adventure Towns

Waimea, the Big Island, Hawaii

Plan a long weekend getaway with our Waimea adventure guide, featuring great outdoor escapes, where to stay, and where to eat. Then chime in with your picks.

Photograph courtesy of Kauai Visitors Bureau

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.

Your Turn: Tell us about your favorite Waimea adventures, restaurants, and hotels in the comments section below.

Saddle up on the trails through nearby Parker Ranch: 50,000 acres of rolling hills set against mighty Mauna Kea ($79 for a two-hour trip; 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; 808-338-1617).

Savor filet steak with Maui onion-marrow jam and hamakua farm mushroom sauté at Merriman’s (

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

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