Poke Around a Fun Cowboy Town
Waimea’s historical cowboy roots inspire a rustic kind of charm, the Islands’ own Western-Hawaiian version of Aspen and Sonoma chic. There are art galleries, boutiques, wonderful little cafes, paniolo-inspired collections, and some of the most beautiful homes and neighborhoods on Hawai‘i.
Parker Ranch Center, in the heart of Waimea, offers a mix of inviting specialty shops, restaurants and activities. Visit Parker Ranch Historic Homes, ride the range on a Paniolo Wagon Tour, or sit at the cozy Fireside Food Court and count your blessings.
Waimea (also known as Kamuela) is the perfect town for a different taste of island life.
Go Big-Game Hunting
Year-round hunting safaris are an adrenaline rush at Parker Ranch. We’re not talking about hunting rabbits. Wild Vancouver bulls with 35-inch horns lurk in the ranch’s remote rainforests, waiting for a challenge. Polynesian boars flourish in rolling grasslands and dense forests, while Spanish goats roam in rugged terrain. Billies and Axis bucks carry up to 36-inch antlers and weigh 200 pounds. Game birds and turkey hunts are seasonal thrills as well.
Meat handling and capping is included with hunts. Mounts can be arranged upon request. Beverages and snacks are supplied on all hunts. Call the ranch at (877) 885-7999 to inquire about necessary hunting permits and licenses and to make reservations.
On Stage in Waimea
The Kahilu Theatre is one of Waimea’s cultural gems. Though it was founded in 1981 by the late Richard Smart (then-owner of Parker Ranch), it’s a theater quite set apart from the community’s cowboy tradition.
Smart, who left Hawai‘i to pursue a career in singing, acting and dancing, performed on Broadway for 30 years before he returned to Waimea. It was his love of the business that prompted him to build a performing arts theater in the small, out-of-the-way community.
Kahilu Theatre’s current season includes well-known Island entertainers and international vocal and dance groups. Check the event schedule at www.kahilutheatre.org.
Visit a School House Gallery
The Isaacs Art Center is a good place to get out of the sun and get a feel for authentic Hawaiiana. The gallery is affiliated with the Hawai‘i Preparatory Academy, a boarding and day school that was established in 1949.
Isaacs Art Center contains a large permanent collection of paintings, furniture, rare books and Hawaiiana. Art pieces also are available for purchase. The center is open Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and is located at 65-1268 Kawaihae Road in Waimea next to the HPA Village Campus.
Explore a Working Cattle Ranch
Parker Ranch rolls over 150,000 acres of scenic upcountry terrain. It is the home of the first Hawaiian paniola (cowboys), a racetrack where record-setting thoroughbreds were trained and a still-functioning cattle ranch. It’s colorful history can be traced to 1809, when Massachusetts sailor John Palmer Parker landed in Hawaii, befriended King Kamehameha I and eventually married the daughter of a high-ranking Hawaiian chief. After domesticating herds of wild cattle on Mauna Kea, he purchased lands that eventually became Parker Ranch. Today, the ranch’s charitable trust helps support schools and hospitals in Waimea.
In the early 1900s, Eben “Rawhide Ben” Parker Low, a famous Waimea cowboy, proved the paniola’s worth when he competed in the Frontier Days celebration in Cheyenne, Wyoming. Low’s cousin, Ikua Purdy, took first place; his halfbrother, Archie Ka‘au‘a, took third and his brother, Jack Low, took sixth.
Explore the ranch for yourself on horseback tours, through an ATV ride or with guided treks.