Relocating to a new place or visiting somewhere for the first time can be intimidating, but life on the Hawaiian Islands moves at a slower pace than others are used to – especially in the west. To get the most out of your experience in North Kohala, we’ve put together a list of things to do in North Kohala including the towns of Hala'ula, Hw, and Kapa'au.
If you want to learn more about the history of North Kohala, general area information, and other details, find out more in our community guide to North Kohala.
Things to Do in North Kohala
Pololu Valley: Kohala itself is named after the oldest volcano from which the Island of Hawai'i was born, and there are seven valleys in the Kohala Mountains along the northernmost tip of the Big Island. Pololu Valley is the first of these valleys and begins where Highway 270 ends. A popular spot is the Pololu Valley Lookout which is located at the top of a short but steep trail (elevation of -420', length 0.6 mi.). This little jaunt is an absolute must-hike since the trail leads you down to a stunning black-sand beach guarded by Ironwood trees and 40-foot sand dunes. The Lookout will give you a birds-eye view of Pololu Valley and the beach.
Waipi'o Valley: At the end of the Kohala Mountains chain is the seventh, last, and most visited valley of Waipi'o. Waipi'o Valley is easily accessible from Highway 19 coming from Waimea/Kamuela and Honoka'a. Today, Waipi'o Valley is a much smaller, more insular community full of rugged mountain views and taro fields — a far cry from its more densely populated days as the home to several Hawaiian Kings. If you're feeling adventurous, a steep valley road can take a four-wheel drive vehicle down to a beautiful black-sand beach that is bisected by the Waipi'o River. But, if you decide to forgo the lookout point and head down in your 4X4 vehicle proceed caution — this road has a 40% grade in some spots.
Recreation: There are a ton of activities to take part in on the Big Island, and North Kohala has no shortage of fun. From watching the Humpback Whales migrate off the coast, to riding on horseback along the coastline or at Ponoholo Ranch, Kahua Ranch, or Nakoa Ranch, to ziplining with Kohala Zipline and skydiving with Big Island Gravity, nature in this part of the world is full of endless adventures.
Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery: Located inside the Kohala Hotel, an historic 1900s building in Hw, the Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery features a menu of innovative Pacific Rim fare with the ambiance of a tiki-themed environment, complete with hula dancing, live musicians, and local art displays.
Number: (808) 889-5555
Address: 55-3415 Akoni Pule Highway in Hawi, HI 96719
Tue-Wed: 11:30 am to 2:30 pm
Thur-Sat: 11:30 am to 2:30 pm & 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm
Sun: 11:30 am to 2:30 pm
Kohala Coffee Mill: In Hw, this is a classic spot perfect for stopping to grab a light meal with some quick sandwiches, a delicious ice cream snack, and to get your morning coffee or afternoon pick-me-up.
Number: (808) 889-5577
Address: 55-3412 Akoni Pule Highway in Hawi, HI 96719
Mon-Sun: 7:00 am to 4:00 pm
Sweet Potato Kitchen: Vegetarians and people with special dietary needs can find an entire menu of organic, gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian comfort food. Note: the Waimea location is permanently closed.
Number: (808) 345-7300
Address: 55-3406 Akoni Pule Highway in Hawi, HI 96719
Fri: Noon to 5:00 pm
Sat-Sun: 10:00 am to 3:00 pm
Mi Ranchito: Also in Hw, this Mexican quick-eats spot is located across the street from the Sweet Potato Kitchen, tucked away behind a building for added privacy.
Number: (808) 289-1465
Address: 55-3419 Akoni Pule Highway in Hawi, HI 96719
Mon-Sat: 11:30 am to 4:00 pm
Gill's Lanai: If you travel down to Kapa'au, you'll find this informal restaurant with outdoor seating where you can grab some of the tastiest hot dogs and fish tacos around.
Number: (808) 315-1542
Address: 54-3866 Akoni Pule Highway in Kapa'au, HI 96755
Tue-Thur: 11:00 am to 4:00 pm
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