Top 4 North Kohala Hikes/Walks – Big Island

Before moving to the Big Island, I was already a daily walker/hiker. There is something special about starting your day off with a walk, putting your needs first, and your health. My daily walk on the Big Island has grown from a daily walk/hike to a daily adventure. Even during winter on the Big Island, the weather is still excellent for hiking.

Our lives changed so much in 2020. With COVID forcing us to stay home more, being outdoors has become essential in my life. My husband and I have pushed ourselves to walk more and explore the Island more and enjoy the Big Island outdoor lifestyle. We have been exploring new walking spots, challenging hikes, and new swimming spots. It is amazing how vast the Island is and how many hiking places there are.

Exploring North Kohala

One of the areas we have been exploring is the district of North Kohala, where you’ll find the towns of Hawi and Kapa’au. The community is located on the northern tip of the island and is a small, laid-back county town with about 7,000 residents. Within the community, there are cultural landmarks, Heiau’s (Hawaiian Sacred Temples), and some of the best coastal walks.

Lapakahi State Historical Park

The park offers excellent historical sites, artifacts and is a comfortable one-mile walk along the coast. You get to experience an accent Hawaiian fishing village and see the traditional Hawaiian culture. To learn more about this great state park, you can read the state’s brochure. (The park is currently closed, many people park in front of the gate).

hiking at Lapakahi State Historical Park

Polulu Valley

The Big Island‘s northern tip has seven amazing valleys. Polulu Valley is one of those valleys and is rich in Hawaiian culture. There is a large black sand beach, and the valley is filled with large ironwood trees. Many people travel into Polulu Valley each year, and there have also been many rescues. The area is very remote, with no running water, no bathrooms, and it can be quite dangerous when it’s been raining. It is worth the adventure. It would be best if you were careful and prepared.

You can park at the overlook and take a quick photo or hike down the mountain switchbacks, about 20 minutes to the valley floor. Depending on your speed, it should be roughly 40 minutes up the mountain. The valley floor is very peaceful, and you can get lost in its beauty. You can also continue past the valley floor and hike another 3-4 miles until the trail ends at an overlook, with a wood bench overlooking the Honoka Nui Valley.

Old Airport to Mo’okin Heiau

Not only is the walk along the coastline filled with fantastic whale watching, but the coastline has some of the oldest historical sites and most sacred in Hawaii. It is the birthplace is King Kamehameha, and some say it’s over 1500 years old. The landmark Mo’okini Heiau (Hawaiian Sacred Temple) can be reached by talking the Old Airport Road to the end of the road.

The small airport has a great walking path that wraps around the runway, so no matter which way you go, you’ll have an excellent walk. If you continue south, the trail continues for a couple of miles, and you will run into multiple Heiau’s while enjoying the view. Please do not move the rocks or walk on the Heiau, and honor the history of Hawaiian culture.

hiking at old airport road big island

Mahukona Beach Park to Kapa’a Beach Park

Mauhukona Beach Park is a local hangout, snorkel spot, and great place for a swim. It is an old harbor that once was used for sugar cane companies. At the park’s right is a walking path that continues for about 2 miles to Kapa’a Beach Park. Along the walk, you will run into other walkers, dog walkers, and people fishing. I enjoy this hike because it is right on the rain line, making it a great place to enjoy some spectacular rainbows and great ocean views. You also get to experience the small community feel.

Short or Long Walks/Hikes

Whether you are going for a short walk or a long hike, there are endless places to explore and enjoy in the Big Island’s North Kohala District. Sometimes I think I will only take a short walk and find myself enjoying the peacefulness and the views so much, the trek ends up being 1 hour long. A great way to start the day!

Do you enjoy hiking? What is your experience hiking in North Kohala, Hawi, or Kapa’au?

With aloha,

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Jann Buckner

February 11, 2021

thank you so much for these hikes
if all goes well we will be on the Big Island for a month this summer

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