The South Kohala region was home to King Kamehameha’s Kipuʻupuʻu warriors who trained on the misty Kohala mountains. The Kipuʻupuʻu were named for the cold winds that blow down from snow-capped Mauna Kea, and were known for their legendary endurance and skill with the spear. South Kohala still retains the true Hawaiian spirit and offers the best of up country living while being only a short drive away from the beautiful beaches of the Kohala Coast.
The word "Waimea" translates to "reddish water", describing the color of the streams which come down from the fertile soils of the moist upcountry. There are several towns known as "Waimea" throughout the Hawaiian islands, so after many years of confusion, it was the U.S. Post Office which suggested the Big Island’s Waimea be known as "Kamuela" to distinguish it from others within the state. Kamuela is the Hawaiian translation of the name "Samuel" to honor one of the town’s most prestigious early residents, Samuel Parker, of the famed Parker Ranch legacy, founded in 1847.
Waimea’s cattle ranching history began in the early 1800’s as aggressive black longhorns - descendants of a gift from Captain George Vancouver to King Kamehameha, roamed wild throughout the mountains and became the birthplace of the Hawaiian cowboy, "the Paniolo". Aloha Rodeo is a delightfully informative book on this piece of our unique history. click here to order a copy!
At almost 3,000 ft of elevation, Waimea is much cooler and greener than the more arid coastline. From this scenic mountain town with panoramic views of Mauna Kea, Mauna Loa and Hualalai volcanoes, you can easily see the snowcapped mountain tops throughout the year. It’s common in the winter for the temperature to fall below 55 degrees at night, giving residents a chance to enjoy the many fireplaces in homes. Residing here are astronomers who work high atop Mauna Kea at the world’s best observatories, cowboys, ranchers, farmers, physicians at North Hawaii Community Hospital and successful entrepreneurs who have chosen to make their dream home in these sacred hills.
It’s also the home to two of the best private schools in the country – Parker School and Hawai’i Preparatory Academy, which attracts families from all over the world who want to live in paradise and give their children the best education in a supportive, small-town environment. This area boasts the original Hawaiian farm to table restaurant - Merriman’s, owned by Peter Merriman. It’s also home to three weekly Farmer’s Markets on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Saturdays where our local farms showcase the best lettuce, tomatoes, ali’i mushrooms, cucumbers, strawberries, goat dairy and other incredible local produce and goods.
Real Estate Synopsis:
With the schools and hospital driving families to this enchanting local town, prices have continued to rise significantly over the last 2 decades. 2018 and 2019 brought sales over $2M for residential properties in town , however the median price is about $750K for a standard, good quality, family home. Lots are difficult to come by since Waimea is flanked by Parker Ranch and State land on all sides, so prices are high – $200K-$750K for an acre or less. The wet side is generally about 20% lower priced and the highly coveted dry side properties with ocean views generally retail for $1.5-$2.5M. There are only a few, older condominium developments which trade immediately when they pop on the market. Waimea is overdue for a high-end, low-rise condominium community and is the target retirement destination for many O’ahu Kama’aina (locals) hoping to escape the heat and traffic.
My favorite restaurants:
Pau – pizza, salads, burgers and pasta.
Merriman’s – most all food sourced from within about 20 miles of the restaurant.
Redwater Café – quirky ambience and hearty pacific-rim cuisine.
Kamuela Kitchen – open for breakfast and lunch, I love the ambiance and staff almost as much as I love their Chopped Salad!
My favorite stores:
Waimea General Store – name it, they have it, as well as all of the best books on Hawai’i history.
Hula Moon – chic mountain and resort wear boutique created specifically for Hawai’i lifestyles.
Lehua Jewelers – the perfect place to buy your first of many Hawaiian bangle bracelets!
Ainahua Florals – love these ladies who make the most beautiful lei and arrangements with our incredible local flowers.
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