What is it Like to Live in Waimea on the Big Island?

“What is it like to live in Waimea?” I get asked this question a lot because friends and clients know that I’ve spent nearly my entire life living in this area of the Big Island. I have been very fortunate to have grown up playing on the beaches along the Kohala Coast and living amongst green hills right here in Waimea.


Green pastureland of Waimea and Kohala Mountains in the background – Photography by Peter French

When people think of Waimea they think of rolling green hills, cowboys, and horses. To be sure, these things are true. We are blessed with truly beautiful landscape plus incredible views of the Kohala Mountains, Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa, and Hualalai.


View from Kohala Mountain Road - Photography by Peter French


Snowcapped Mauna Kea! – Photography by Peter French

Waimea or Kamuela?

Newcomers to the Big Island are often confused that one town has two names – is it Waimea or Kamuela? On island, everyone refers to it as Waimea – it is Waimea! However, the U.S. Postal Service does not allow for a state to have more than one post office with the same town name, and since there is a Waimea town on Kauai, the Big Island Waimea’s official post office name is Kamuela. Kamuela is the Hawaiian name of Samuel, the grandson of Parker Ranch founder John Parker.

Parker Ranch Sign

Kamuela is the Hawaiian name of Samuel, the grandson of Parker Ranch founder John Parker

Paniolo Heritage

Waimea is proud of its paniolo (cowboy) history, and rightly so. At one time Parker Ranch encompassed 500,000 acres – covering most of present day Waimea. You can’t miss the larger than life size statue of Ikua Purdy as you drive past Parker Ranch Center in downtown Waimea. Purdy garnered international acclaim after being the first Hawaiian to win the 1908 world champion steer-roping contest in Wyoming. Read more about how Parker Ranch’s history is intertwined with that of Hawaii.

Parker Ranch Sculpture

The larger than life size statue of Ikua Purdy in downtown Waimea

Many people in Waimea are still actively involved in farming and ranching and there are currently some fantastic acreage properties available. Check out this rare opportunity to buy side-by-side acreage in Waimea or this classic plantation home on 11 beautiful acres in Waimea.


Nearly 10,000 people call Waimea home – Photography by Ian Lindsey

But – Waimea offers so much more than these well-known factors. Here are just a couple reasons why nearly 10,000 people have chosen to call Waimea home:

Everything is at Your Fingertips

When you live in Waimea town, you’re practically walking distance to everything you need. As the largest town in North Kohala, you’ll find supermarkets, hairdressers, health food stores, clothing boutiques, coffee shops, and so much more. There’s also a wealth of services, including a post office, a hospital (North Hawaii Community Hospital), dentists, doctors offices, car repair services – all right in Waimea town so you don’t need to travel to Hilo or Kona.


There are also several large employers, such as Keck Observatory and the Canada-France-Hawaii telescope – both of which have their headquarters in Waimea. You’ll also find a wealth of professional services such as architects, interior decorators, website designers, and many more. There’s even a small local newspaper – the North Hawaii News. Civic clubs abound with the Kona-Kohala Chamber of Commerce and Waimea Community Association meeting monthly and a Rotary Club that meets weekly at Anna Ranch Heritage Center.

Waimea is home to several excellent schools, including my alma mater Hawaii Preparatory Academy as well as Parker School, Waimea Country School, and charter schools such as the Hawaiian Kanu o Ka Aina charter school.

Mountains and Beaches

Located 2,600 feet above sea level, Waimea is cooler than living along the coastline, yet is just a few minutes drive from some of the best beaches on island. It really is the best of both worlds!


Majestic Mauna Kea glows during sunset hour!

Spend the day horseback riding in the mountains or go to Hapuna or Spencer Beach Park. Amazing amenities including award-winning golf courses and spas are just right down the road at the Mauna Kea Beach Hotel, Mauna Lani, and Waikoloa Beach Resorts.


Spend the day horseback riding in the mountains or having fun in the sun at the beach!

Activities Galore

There’s no shortage of cultural and social activities to enjoy in Waimea. Kahilu Theater attracts a broad range of world-famous artists and theatrical productions. The annual Cherry Blossom Festival every February attracts huge crowds, as does Parker Ranch’s annual July 4th rodeo, and for the Christmas parade the cooler weather in Waimea makes it feel like Christmas! Plus, there’s the Aloha Festivals Ho’olaulea in the fall and so much more!

Great Weather and Lots of Rainbows

This blog would not be complete if I didn’t mention that where I live there are rainbows! The combination of sun and rain, and the distinct shift from the green side of town to the dry side, means we have rainbows, lots of rainbows!

2016-02-16 16.26.21-1

Just follow the big bright rainbows to cool Waimea town

The weather in Waimea town is a good example of the diversity that Hawaii Island is known for. Within just a few miles you can go from dry desert land to lush green pastures, and what lies in between is usually a big bright rainbow. As you drive up the Kawaihae road after a hot day at the beach, just follow the rainbows to cool Waimea town.

More Information

Waimea is really an amazing place to live – for the lifestyle, the fresh air, the views, the seasonal streams, the rainbows, the amenities, the activities, the history. I am fortunate and grateful to have been raised in such a sweet and special place in the heart of this Big Island of Hawaii.


Come discover the amazing town of Waimea, Hawaii!

For more information, contact me.  


Julie Keller, RB
Direct: 808.987.7931
Email: Julie@HawaiiLife.com

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13 Responses to “What is it Like to Live in Waimea on the Big Island?”

  1. pam Deery
    August 20, 2016 at 1:09 pm #

    Great article.. very informative and awesome pix! You never cease to amaze me Julie.

  2. Merry Anne Stone
    August 21, 2016 at 11:27 am #

    I loved it!

  3. Julie keller
    August 21, 2016 at 4:02 pm #

    Thanks Pam! I’m learning form the best.

  4. michael solarz
    August 21, 2016 at 11:10 pm #

    I always enjoy your blogs…thanks

    August 22, 2016 at 9:00 am #

    My daddy is a Native Waimea Boy. Our family has been a part of Waimea for over 100 years. My grandpa was the legendary Dr. Leonard Newton Case. My mom, my brother and I moved to Waimea in 1960 and we grew up in the rich paniolo culture that made up Parker Ranch and Waimea. I watched Uncle Teddy Bell, Uncle Uku, Uncle Martin Prudy, and Uncle Jiro Yamaguchi ride their horses to work… Uncle Teddy Bell was the Rough rider foreman and Uncle Martin and Uncle Uku worked under him. I was fortunate to grow up under the best of the best… The owner of Parker Ranch was “Uncle Richard” to those of us whose father’s worked for him. Waimea today and Parker Ranch of today is nothing like the town I grew up in or the ranch I grew up on. But my loyalty to the land will never change…I learned to be loyal to the Land from my family…

    • Julie Keller, R(B)
      August 22, 2016 at 12:47 pm #

      Wow, you’ve got deep history here Leigh! Thank you for sharing. You truly are fortunate and it’s great that you appreciate it so much. Waimea has definitely changed. I have not been here as long as you have and don’t have as many rooted connections, but I am sure I went to school with some of your relatives with last names Bell and Case :-) I too, feel fortunate to have grown up here. We moved here in 1973 and even at that time the paniolo were riding their horses to work. I love and honor this precious town and land and will never take it for granite.

  6. Linda
    August 24, 2016 at 6:58 pm #

    In ten years when I retire, Waimea is my destination. Hope it doesn’t change too much more. When I was there as a student at HPA, there were no traffic lights. I’ll be contacting you in a few years to look at property!

    • Julie keller
      August 25, 2016 at 12:32 pm #

      Hi Linda, sounds like a great plan! And I’m you in hoping for less change.

  7. James Burns
    August 27, 2016 at 6:45 am #

    I used to live there and there’s no place on earth just like Waimea. This was an excellent article, great pictures but it has to be experienced nothing can describe it outside of experiencing it.

    • Julie Keller, RB
      August 30, 2016 at 12:01 pm #

      Thank you James, and you are absolutely right – must be experienced!

    September 24, 2016 at 1:37 am #

    Hi, my Late Husband (TIM ) and I lived there for 10 years and loved it ( Lakeland )
    we sang with the Hawaiian Civic club and Auntie Margie’s group on Tuesday’s-,ALSO
    in Konakaa at the vegetable stands on Saturdays mornings with a bunch of locals and we LOVED everything about it… Beside missing my- Tim, I am missing Waimea–too– and all our dear friends—I am too old now to move back !!!!..—

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