Visit the Kohaha region of the Big Island, gorgeous landscapes, ocean views and beaches (updated 2023)
The Kohala region, located on the northern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii, is a place of natural wonders and rich history. This captivating region encompasses a diverse landscape, ranging from dramatic cliffs and lush valleys to picturesque beaches and rolling pastures. Kohala is known for its breathtaking beauty, cultural significance, and abundance of outdoor activities, making it a must-visit destination for travelers seeking an authentic Hawaiian experience.
The Kohala region is divided into two main areas: North Kohala and South Kohala. North Kohala is steeped in history and is often referred to as the birthplace of King Kamehameha I, the renowned Hawaiian warrior king who united the Hawaiian Islands. This area is characterized by small towns, historic sites, and scenic drives that showcase the area’s rich cultural heritage. Visitors can explore ancient heiau (temples), visit the birthplace of King Kamehameha I, or stroll through charming towns like Hawi and Kapaau, which are home to art galleries, boutiques, and local eateries.
In contrast, South Kohala is known for its world-class resorts, pristine beaches, and exceptional golf courses. This resort-filled coastline boasts stunning white sand beaches, crystal-clear waters, and a wide range of recreational activities, including snorkeling, diving, surfing, and whale-watching. South Kohala is also home to the famous Mauna Kea Observatories, where astronomers from around the world take advantage of the clear skies and elevation to study the stars.
In this post we explore all the fantastic attractions, beach areas, cultural sites and amazing landscapes around the Kohala region.
Explore the Natural Wonders and Rich History of the Kohala Region on the Big Island
Visit Hapuna Beach area
The Hapuna Beach area, located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, is a popular destination known for its stunning beaches and scenic beauty. Hapuna Beach, in particular, is considered one of the island’s most beautiful and expansive white sand beaches.
Hapuna Beach stretches for about half a mile, offering ample space for sunbathing, beachcombing, and various recreational activities. The beach boasts crystal-clear turquoise waters, ideal for swimming and snorkeling. The ocean conditions are generally calm and inviting, making it a family-friendly spot to enjoy the water.
Check out more to visiting Hapuna Beach park area here for more images and information.
Visit Spencer Beach Park
Situated on a picturesque coastline, Spencer Beach Park features a beautiful sandy beach that stretches for approximately half a mile. The calm and clear waters make it an ideal spot for swimming, snorkeling, and even paddleboarding. The gentle waves and shallow areas near the shore make it particularly suitable for children and inexperienced swimmers.
The park offers ample facilities to enhance visitors’ comfort and convenience. Picnic tables and shaded pavilions are scattered throughout the park, providing perfect spots for enjoying a beachside picnic or gathering with family and friends. The grassy areas are ideal for playing games or simply relaxing in the shade.
Spencer Beach Park also boasts amenities such as restrooms, showers, and barbecue grills, allowing visitors to fully enjoy their time at the park. Lifeguards are typically present, ensuring the safety of beachgoers.
Check out our post on visiting Spencer Beach Park here for more images and information.
Explore the historic and cultural sites of Kohala
Explore Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site
Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, is a significant cultural and historical site that offers visitors a glimpse into ancient Hawaiian traditions and architecture.
At the heart of the park stands Pu’ukohola Heiau, a massive stone temple built in the late 18th century by the renowned Hawaiian ruler, Kamehameha I. This heiau (temple) played a pivotal role in his quest to unify the Hawaiian Islands under his rule. The temple’s imposing stone walls and impressive size make it a remarkable sight to behold.
Exploring Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site allows visitors to learn about the rich history and significance of the site. The park offers interpretive displays and informational signs that provide insights into the cultural practices and beliefs of the ancient Hawaiians. Rangers and volunteers are often available to share stories and answer questions, further enhancing the educational experience.
Check out our post on visiting Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site for more images and information.
Explore Lapakahi State Historical Park
Lapakahi State Historical Park, located on the northwestern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, is a captivating destination that offers a glimpse into the rich cultural heritage of the Hawaiian people and the unique history of the region.
The park is home to the remains of an ancient Hawaiian fishing village, providing a fascinating insight into the daily lives of the indigenous people who once inhabited the area. As you explore the park, you’ll come across stone walls, house platforms, and other archaeological features that offer a glimpse into the village’s layout and architecture.
The coastal landscape surrounding Lapakahi State Historical Park is both beautiful and rugged. The park offers stunning panoramic views of the ocean, providing an opportunity to appreciate the natural beauty of the area and imagine what life might have been like for the village inhabitants.
Check out more about visiting Lapakahi State Historical Park here for more images and information.
Visit Hawi on the Kohala coast
Hawi, located on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, is a charming and historic town that offers visitors a unique blend of culture, art, and a relaxed island atmosphere.
Situated on the northern tip of the island, Hawi is known for its quaint Main Street lined with galleries, boutiques, and local shops. It’s a great place to explore and discover unique artwork, handmade crafts, and one-of-a-kind souvenirs.
The town’s rich history is evident in its well-preserved buildings, many of which date back to the 19th century. As you stroll through the streets, you’ll encounter historic sites and landmarks, such as the Kohala Historical Sites State Monument and the Hawi Jodo Mission.
It’s fun to explore the downtown district and check out the shops, places to eat and cool attractions in town to visit.
Explore Polulu Valley
Pololu Valley, located on the northern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii, is a breathtaking and rugged destination that offers visitors the chance to immerse themselves in the island’s natural beauty.
The valley is part of the larger Kohala Coast and is known for its dramatic cliffs, black sand beach, and panoramic views. The journey to Pololu Valley begins with a scenic drive along winding roads, leading to a parking area where the trailhead awaits.
The hike down to the valley is approximately 0.75 miles (1.2 kilometers) and can be steep and challenging in some sections. However, the effort is well worth it as you descend through lush vegetation and catch glimpses of the awe-inspiring coastline.
As you reach the bottom, you’ll be greeted by the sight of a picturesque black sand beach, framed by towering cliffs and backed by dense forests. The beach is a peaceful and serene spot, inviting visitors to relax, soak up the sun, and listen to the soothing sounds of the waves crashing onshore.
Check out this post on exploring Polulu Valley and the gulches here for more details and images.
Visit Waimea in the Kohala region
Waimea, located in the Kohala region of the Big Island of Hawaii, is a charming town that offers visitors a unique blend of Hawaiian heritage, paniolo (cowboy) culture, and a vibrant arts scene.
Nestled in the cool upland slopes of the Kohala Mountains, Waimea is known for its picturesque landscapes of rolling hills, green pastures, and ranches. The town exudes a laid-back and welcoming atmosphere, making it a favorite among both locals and visitors.
Waimea is often referred to as “Paniolo Country” due to its deep-rooted cowboy heritage. The town is home to several ranches, and you can catch a glimpse of the paniolo lifestyle by visiting Parker Ranch, one of the largest and oldest cattle ranches in the United States. Explore the ranch’s history, take a horseback ride, or visit the historic homes and museums that depict the life of the paniolos.
The town center of Waimea is a hub of activity, with a range of boutiques, art galleries, and eateries. Stroll along the charming streets and explore the unique shops that offer everything from local crafts and clothing to gourmet treats and farm-fresh produce.
Check out our post on visiting Waimea on the Kohala region here for more images and information.
Explore the resort areas of Kohala
Waikoloa resorts and development
Waikoloa Resorts is also renowned for its stunning coastline and beautiful beaches. The area boasts exquisite sandy shores, crystal-clear waters, and opportunities for snorkeling, swimming, and other water sports. Anaehoomalu Bay, commonly referred to as A-Bay, is a popular beach within the resort area.
The development of Waikoloa Resorts began in the 1970s and has since grown into a thriving destination for tourists and residents alike. The area features several upscale hotels, including the Hilton Waikoloa Village and the Waikoloa Beach Marriott Resort & Spa. These resorts offer world-class facilities, such as pools, golf courses, spa services, and dining options.
Additionally, Waikoloa Resorts is home to two championship golf courses, the Waikoloa Beach Golf Course and the Kings’ Course. These courses offer breathtaking views of the surrounding volcanic landscapes and provide a challenging yet enjoyable experience for golf enthusiasts.
Check out my post on visiting the Waikoloa resorts and beach areas here for more information and images.
Weather and best time to visit the Kohala Region
The weather in the Kohala region of the Big Island of Hawaii is generally pleasant throughout the year, making it a desirable destination for visitors. The region experiences a mild and tropical climate characterized by warm temperatures and a mix of sunshine and occasional rain showers.
The best time to visit the Kohala region is during the drier months, which typically fall between May and October. During this period, you can expect warm and sunny weather with temperatures ranging from the mid-70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (24-29 degrees Celsius). The ocean temperatures are also pleasant, making it ideal for swimming, snorkeling, and other water activities.
While the dry season is generally preferred, it’s important to note that the Kohala region is diverse in its microclimates. The area is known for its volcanic mountains, which can create variations in weather patterns. For example, the higher elevations of Kohala Mountain can experience cooler temperatures and more rainfall, especially during the winter months.
The winter months, from November to April, are considered the rainy season in the Kohala region. While rainfall is more frequent during this time, it usually comes in the form of passing showers or brief downpours, rather than prolonged rainfall. The temperatures during the winter months remain mild, ranging from the low 70s to mid-80s Fahrenheit (21-29 degrees Celsius). It’s worth noting that winter is also the peak tourist season in Hawaii, so expect larger crowds and higher accommodation prices.
Overall, the Kohala region enjoys a relatively mild climate year-round, making it a pleasant destination to visit at any time. However, for the best combination of warm, dry weather and fewer crowds, the months of May to October are generally recommended as the ideal time to explore the region’s outdoor activities, enjoy its beaches, and experience its natural beauty.
Tips to visiting the Kohala Region
Here are some tips for visiting the Kohala region of the Big Island:
Plan your visit: Research and plan your itinerary in advance to make the most of your time in the Kohala region. Take note of the attractions, activities, and places you want to visit, and consider the logistics of transportation and accommodations.
Rent a car: Having a rental car gives you the flexibility to explore the region at your own pace. The Kohala Coast is spread out, and having a vehicle allows you to easily access the various beaches, attractions, and restaurants.
Pack accordingly: The Kohala region enjoys a warm and sunny climate, so pack lightweight and breathable clothing, swimsuits, sunscreen, and hats. Don’t forget essentials like sunglasses, insect repellent, and a reusable water bottle for staying hydrated.
Explore the beaches: The Kohala Coast is renowned for its beautiful beaches. Be sure to visit Hapuna Beach, Spencer Beach Park, and other coastal spots. Remember to follow beach safety guidelines, including observing lifeguard instructions and being aware of ocean conditions.
Experience local cuisine: Sample the delicious local cuisine of the Kohala region. From traditional Hawaiian dishes to fresh seafood, there are numerous dining options to explore. Don’t miss the chance to try poke, kalua pig, and other Hawaiian specialties.
Discover the history and culture: Take time to learn about the rich history and vibrant culture of the area. Visit Pu’ukohola Heiau National Historic Site, Lapakahi State Historical Park, and other cultural sites to gain insights into the Hawaiian heritage.
Engage in outdoor activities: The Kohala region offers a wide range of outdoor activities. Go hiking in the lush valleys, snorkel or dive in the vibrant coral reefs, embark on whale-watching tours (in season), or enjoy golfing on world-class courses.
Respect the environment and culture: Hawaii has a deep respect for its natural environment and native culture. Be mindful of the ‘aina (land) and follow the principles of “Malama ‘Aina” (caring for the land) by practicing responsible tourism and respecting local customs and traditions.
Check for events and festivals: Keep an eye out for any events, festivals, or cultural celebrations happening during your visit. These events can provide unique opportunities to experience the local culture and festivities.
Relax and enjoy: Finally, take the time to relax and savor the beauty of the Kohala region. Embrace the laid-back island vibe, soak up the stunning landscapes, and enjoy the aloha spirit that pervades this enchanting part of the Big Island.
By following these tips, you can make the most of your visit to the Kohala region and create unforgettable memories on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Check out these other posts of things to do on the BIg Island
Conclusion to visiting Kohala region of the Big Island
The Kohala region of the Big Island offers a captivating blend of natural beauty, rich history, and a range of activities that make it an enticing destination for travelers. Whether you’re seeking relaxation, adventure, or a cultural experience, this region has something to offer.
From the historic sites of North Kohala to the luxurious resorts and pristine beaches of South Kohala, there is a wealth of experiences to be had. Immerse yourself in the rich Hawaiian heritage by visiting ancient temples, exploring museums, and learning about the legacy of King Kamehameha I. Embark on scenic drives that wind through breathtaking valleys and along dramatic coastlines, providing stunning views of the Pacific Ocean and lush landscapes.