Out of the first section of the Big Island to rise from the sea lies spectacular white sand beaches, world-renowned golf, luxurious resorts and spas, and a chic offering of restaurants and shops. Besides the plush effects, the weather also gives the Kohala District the nickname “the Gold Coast.” The sunniest destination on the island boasts both nationally-ranked beaches and some very secluded hidden gems. Add some swaying palm trees and incredible sunsets and you will call it paradise. The multiple hues of blue from the crystal clear water and green from the fairways are a dramatic contrast against the black lava fields that line the majestic coastline. Beautiful views of Mauna Kea and Maui are included along with major provocative history that unified the islands of Hawai’i.
The Pu`ukohola Heiau in Kawaihae is a significant historical site for the statehood of Hawai’i. King Kamehameha built the heiau with strict guidelines to dedicate it to his family war god, to fulfill the prophecy of conquering all the islands. Kawaihae is an alluring harbor town with a handful of original shops and delectable restaurants favored by locals. It’s a great place to kick back and relax and watch the busy activities of the harbor. Fish with the locals or bask in the sunshine on a sandy beach next to the boat ramp.
Travel north to Hawi and Kapa`au. Once they were busy commercial centers during the operation of the Kohala Sugar plantation and served as large camps for many countries. Regional cuisines were shared among the workers and diversity was beautifully woven into the community. Take the time to explore the charming boutiques of Haw to find treasures to take home with you. Be sure to come hungry and dine at the sushi restaurant, which serves creative, delectable delights with unique island flair you won’t find anywhere else.
Visit the original King Kamehameha Statue commissioned by King David Kalakaua as it stands proudly at the legendary birthplace of the Great King in Kapa`au. The statue was intended for Honolulu, but was lost in a shipwreck off the coast of South America. Another statue was commissioned and the replica was sent to Honolulu. The original was salvaged and returned to its rightful place in Kapa`au in 1912. A few miles past Kapa`au, Pololu Valley Lookout offers stunning, breathtaking views of coastline and valley. The hike down is easy and you will be rewarded with a beautiful black sand beach. However, going up is a different story.
Upcountry from Kawaihae, Waimea is a beautiful place still alive with its cowboy heritage that has breathtaking views of Kohala Mountain and Mauna Kea. Because it is set on higher elevation, a sweater may be needed to enjoy the surroundings. It is home to Parker Ranch, paniolo (cowboys) and rodeos and the quaint community has the feel of Colorado in springtime.
Although the landscape has changed dramatically from its spectacular beginnings with prime resorts and trendy shops along the Kohala Coast, the tradition of aloha remains the true.