Things to do in Waimea 2023

Welcome to the best things to do at the Waimea awards show!

My boyfriend and I recently took a week-long trip to Waimea and were blown away by the beauty and culture of this town. We heard great things about Waimea from our traveling friends, but we never expected it to be as wonderful as it was.

From ranch visits to secluded beaches and bubbling town markets, Waimea is a must-visit destination for anyone on the Big Island. The people were so welcoming, and we loved exploring the town’s inspiring cowboy culture.

So, I’ve compiled a list of some of the best places and activities to do in Waimea. These are the best of the best, so you can have a wonderful time in Waimea no matter which one you choose.

Step right in and discover the top things to do in Waimea!

Visit Waimea’s Famous Ranches

Visit Waimea's Famous Ranches

Waimea is home to Paniolos, and this heritage is represented in their well-maintained ranches. 

Enjoy horseback riding through beautiful farmlands at the Parker Ranch. 

Learn about the history of Hawaiian cowboy county at Anna Heritage Center and explore the unique artifacts displayed there.

Parker Ranch – Best free thing to do in Waimea

Parker Ranch should be your first stop in Waimea for its sprawling green lands used for cattle rearing and tours of the Parker Family’s beautiful homes. Plus, the tour is free and self-guided, including a short video on the Ranch’s history. 

We drove to the Ranch on a weekend when there were plenty of food trucks on the grounds, selling the most delicious Hawaiian food. 

The 2-hour horseback riding excursion around the land is a main attraction at the Ranch. We loved the ride as our horses were well-trained, and the guide gave us a great tour of the property. 

We consider the Parker Ranch tour one of Waimea’s best things to do. Here’s why you will too:

  • The Parker Family home tours feature incredible pieces of art and heirlooms. 
  • The drive to the Ranch has gorgeous views of the northern island countryside. 
  • It’s the largest cattle ranch in Hawaii. 

Anna Ranch Heritage Center 

The Anna Ranch Heritage Center is an ode to Hawaii’s ranching history. You’ll love the tour of this beautiful property and its gardens, home to the inspiring Anna Lindsey-Perry Fiske, known as “The First Lady of Ranching in Hawaii.” 

We loved the scenic views of the Kohala Mountains from the well-manicured grounds and the casual, relaxed feel of the Ranch. Also, the staff and tour guide explained the history of Hawaiian ranches in great detail.

Anna Ranch offers a one-hour tour that everyone visiting Waimea will love. Some more great things about the place:

  • You need to make reservations a day before, and the tour costs $10, which goes towards maintaining the Ranch. 
  • The Ranch holds a weekly farmers market. 
  • The home has tons of lovely antiques.

Explore the Gorgeous Beaches in Waimea

Explore the Gorgeous Beaches in Waimea

Waimea has sprawling white sand beaches with calm waves, perfect for swimming. Head to Spencer Beach Park for a fun day of swimming and picnicking with family.

Take a long drive to Polihale Beach Park to relax on its secluded shores.

Spencer Beach Park – Best Fun Thing to do in Waimea 

Spencer Beach is perfect for families with children looking to escape more crowded spots. As the water here is gentle and there’s a lifeguard on duty, it’s also great for swimming. 

Although there are a lot of facilities like a picnic and bbq area, clean restrooms, basketball and volleyball courts, the beach wasn’t crowded, and we had a peaceful time here. 

My boyfriend and I enjoyed a refreshing swim and dried off in one of the beach’s many shaded spots. 

We highly recommend visiting Spencer Beach, as spending a day here is one of the most fun things to do in Waimea. 

  • The ocean walkway is excellent for taking in the sunset views. 
  • This beach has a large campsite where you can camp after getting a permit.
  • The water has a rocky base, so wear water shoes. 

Polihale State Park

The ride here is on a pretty bumpy road and lasts around 25 minutes so rent a 4WD for the trip. But once you get here, you’ll be rewarded with a gorgeous golden-sand beach that’s secluded for miles. 

Since it’s a sunny beach, we had a great time sunbathing and cooling off with a swim in this coast’s gentle, rolling waves.

Another great thing about Polihale is the breathtaking views of the Na Pali coast seen from the shore. Since we arrived later in the day, we saw a stunning sunset on our way back, and highly recommend staying for the view.

Polihale is a great beach to spend the day at in Waimea. Some things to consider before you go:

  • There are facilities like restrooms and showers here, but not very clean.
  • Since there aren’t any places to buy food, pack a meal and enjoy it in the picnic area. 

Drive Through Waimea’s Valleys and Canyons

Drive Through Waimea's Valleys and Canyons

The valleys in Waimea are deep and consist of beautiful beaches, waterfalls, scenic trails, and lookout points to drive by. 

Hike the Waipio Na’alapa Trail to see a stunning black sand beach. 

Drive through Waimea Canyon for stunning lookout points, or hike down their trails.

Waipio Na’alapa Trail  

The Waipio Na’alapa Trail is Waimea’s most beautiful lookout point to view the breathtaking valley below. However, the hike is pretty steep so take a Jeep to drive both ways or ask a local driving by for a lift. 

We descended the nearly one-mile paved road down to the valley floor, with views of the valley’s taro fields. The black sand beach was a short walk from there and worth the hike. The sand was soft and so peaceful to sit on and enjoy views of the nearby waterfall. 

Another great attraction here is the Na’alapa Stables, where you can try horse riding after some basic instructions from the trainers. 

Fans of hiking and nature walks should try it out, as it’s one of the best things to do in Waimea. Some things to consider that will help you prepare:

  • Wear sturdy hiking shoes for the trail and bring water along. 
  • There’s parking near the lookout point and down at the beach too.
  • The hike is north of the Kohala Coast and a short drive from Kona.

Waimea Canyon State Park

Driving through Waimea Canyon State Park is a great way to explore Kauai’s valleys. However, make sure to get here early for a good parking spot and to avoid the fog that builds up. The parking fee is $5 per person and $10 per car for each lookout point. 

The drive through the canyon has gorgeous views of Kauai’s lush greenery and the rust-colored valley. And since the lookouts offer trailheads that hike down to the canyon, it’s a great way to explore the area. 

We enjoyed our ride along the 14-mile road, and it’s great for families who can’t hike the trails. Also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon is a testament to the natural beauty of Waimea.

Here’s what makes it even more special:

  • You can expect to see wild goats and deer at the lookout points. 
  • The State Park’s visitor center is great for getting souvenirs and stopping for a meal. 
  • The drive extends to Koke’e State Park, where you can see more gorgeous sights.

Experience the Lively Farmers Markets

Experience the Lively Farmers Markets

Waimea has excellent farmer’s markets where you can get fresh produce and local goods. Here I’ve mentioned the best ones and their specialities:

Waimea Town Market 

Located on the grounds of Parker School, they have an excellent variety of fresh fruit. Also, there are picnic tables where you can enjoy brunch accompanied by live music. The Kona espresso, Mexican tamales, and chocolate coconut pancakes were fantastic!

Waimea Homestead Farmers Market 

Located behind Waimea Secondary School, near the post office, this is one of Waimea’s oldest farmers markets. Enjoy the lack of tourists and the small-town feel here. We liked their crepes with Kona’s coffee. 

Here’s why you’ll love Waimea’s farmer’s markets:

  • They’re open from 7 am to noon on Saturdays.
  • The vendors here are friendly and will give you some great deals.
  • There are usually locals here and few-to-no tourists. 


Visiting Hawaii is always a treat but rarely is it advertised as a place to discover the country’s historical roots. However, Waimea is a town rich in the stories of Old Hawaii. 

Walking through the farms here and trekking its valleys will help you experience Hawaii from the past, which is well-preserved in this town’s monuments and landmarks. 

You’ll love Waimea for its gorgeous landscapes and small-town feel, a great addition to your next Hawaii-cation!

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ):

Is Waimea worth visiting?

Your trip to Big Island is incomplete without a stop at Waimea. From its sprawling ranches, deep valleys, and gorgeous beaches, Waimea is a perfect spot for days of adventure.

What is Waimea known for?

Waimea is known for its cowboy culture and the cattle ranches which preserve this heritage. It is also the home of Paniolos in Hawaii. 

What are some free things to do in Waimea, Hawaii?

The Parker Ranch offers a free tour of its grounds and homes. Visit Polihale and Spencer beaches for a great day in the sun, and explore Isaacs Gallery and Art Center, all free of cost.

Last Updated on February 1, 2023 by Brigitte