Blake Walsh

15 Best Things to Do in Hawi, HI

  • Published 2023/04/23

If you’re looking for a serene and charming destination in Hawaii, spend a day or two in the picturesque community of Hawi.

This census-designated place (CDP) is west of Kapaau in Hawaii County, Hawaii.

Together, they form the most densely populated area in the North Kohala district.

Hawi boasts a rich history that dates back to the birthplace of King Kamehameha I, and it’s also home to the Moʻokini Heiau landmark, located within the Kohala Historical Sites State Monument.

In the northernmost part of the island, Hawi was once a busy center of the now-defunct Kohala sugar plantation.

One of Hawi’s claims to fame is as the bike turnaround point for the annual IRONMAN World Championship, which draws thousands of athletes and spectators annually.

Beyond that, the town offers plenty of enchanting experiences for visitors of all ages and interests, including its numerous boutiques, art galleries, and restaurants in vibrant plantation buildings.

Discover unique offerings from handcrafted jewelry to delectable homemade fudge to 100% pure Kona coffee!

Get enchanted by Hawi with this list of the best things to do in Hawi, Hawaii!

Drive the Kohala Mountain Road

The road of Kohala Mountain Road

Dmitri Kotchetov /

The Kohala Mountain Road, or Route 250, winds along Hawaii’s beautiful Kohala mountain range.

This scenic route is a gateway to the picturesque countryside and cattle ranches, providing travelers with an uninterrupted view of the stunning landscape.

The journey begins at Waimea, connecting you to the charming towns of Hawi and Kohala, and runs for about 19 miles.

Scenic landscape along Kohala Mountain Road

Dmitri Kotchetov /

Notably, the road sees less traffic than other routes, making for a peaceful and enjoyable drive.

While there are many must-see destinations to visit during your Hawaii trip, the Kohala Mountain Road is one that you must not miss.

The breathtaking journey is the highlight, allowing you to immerse in the natural beauty of the surroundings.

Experience Hawaiian Lifestyle at the Lokahi Garden Sanctuary

The Lokahi Garden Sanctuary offers an array of residential, travel excursions, and day programs designed to provide locals and tourists with an authentic and memorable Hawaii experience.

From farm tours to international travels, Lokahi Garden Sanctuary has diverse, fun, and unique programs for everyone.

Private retreats, day spas, and a work exchange farm program are just a few more examples of what’s on offer.

Their well-planned guided tours come with a comprehensive itinerary and a range of amenities, providing an outstanding environmental and cultural experience.

Additionally, the sanctuary offers resort-quality amenities and delivers fresh produce from farm to kitchen, ensuring a fantastic stay.

Taste 100% Kona Coffee at Kohala Coffee Mill

Kohala Coffee Mill is your neighborhood coffee shop in the heart of Hawi, serving 100% Kona coffee and breakfast and lunch menu items.

Kohala Coffee Mill has been in business for the past 30 years and has become a part of tradition for locals and visitors alike.

This friendly coffee shop makes everything from scratch using only the freshest ingredients and offers the warmest service in the area while letting you enjoy the vintage atmosphere.

Try some delectable Tropical Dreams Ice Cream, a strong Dark Side Cortado, or one of their famous Breakfast Burrito Melts!

In addition, Kohala Coffee Mill offers free WiFi, takeout options, and outdoor seating.

You will enjoy Kohala Coffee Mill whether you like Kona coffee, a great mocha, a fresh lemonade, a breakfast sandwich, or a gluten-free meal.

Grab a Meal at the Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery

Exterior of Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery

Yoshi Canopus, CC BY-SA 4.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Nestled along the road in the breathtaking North Kohala region of Hawi, you’ll find Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery.

This well-loved establishment has captivated locals and visitors for years, located in a beautifully restored plantation building.

As one of the island’s oldest eateries, Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery is renowned for its affordable and delicious Pacific Rim cuisine, warm and lively atmosphere, and excellent aloha spirit.

Don’t be surprised if your friendly waitress suddenly breaks into a hula dance!

Bamboo’s island-style cuisine is made with only the freshest ingredients, including classic Hawaiian dishes, organic produce, locally caught fish, free-range chicken, and the island’s best grass-fed steaks and ribs.

With lots of vegetarian options and top-notch desserts, there’s something for everyone to enjoy.

To cap off a memorable dining experience at Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery, head upstairs to the gallery and explore the stunning collection of art, furniture, and gifts created by local artists.

Grab Fresh Produce at the Hawi Farmers’ Market

To taste local flavor and community spirit, visit the Hawi Farmers’ Market, North Kohala’s destination for fresh food, handmade crafts, and a vibrant social scene.

Located at the Kohala Village HUB’s entrance right across the street from its former home, the Hawi Farmers’ Market is more than just a place to shop for groceries.

It’s a place for community interaction, collaboration, and unity, values North Kohala is proud of.

It increases access to fresh, locally grown produce and expands direct producer-to-consumer market opportunities.

The Hawi Farmers’ Market contributes meaningfully to the community’s health and well-being.

Shop for various products, including coconut, kalo, tomato, pumpkin, herbs, bananas, eggs, hummus, honey, baked goods, candles, and many more.

If you’re in the area, drop by the Hawi Farmers’ Market and soak up the vibrant atmosphere of this unique community gathering place.

Reserve a Stay at Puakea Ranch

Experience the old Hawaii by staying at the Puakea Ranch, a 33-acre ranch land listed on the State Historic Register.

This charming and authentic historic ranch is one of the most stunning on Hawaii Island, offering guests a unique blend of history, comfort, and nature.

Located on the scenic Kohala Coast, Puakea Ranch features a selection of guest cottages and unique event spaces.

The ranch’s main drive is a sight, lined with majestic mature trees and surrounded by forests, lush lawns, and vast ranch lands.

The ranch now boasts four private and authentic Hawaiian vacation homes, swimming pools, organic gardens, hammocks, swings, and endless opportunities to explore the outdoors, thanks to extensive restoration!

Puakea Ranch has everything you need to seek a romantic and secluded getaway, a fun family adventure, or an unforgettable, unique event venue.

Visit the Kohala Historical Sites State Monument

Mo’okini Heiau at Kohala Historical Sites State Monument

Alexandre G. ROSA /

The Kohala Historical Sites State Monument in North Kohala is the location of two significant historical sites, namely Mo’okini Heiau and the birthplace of Kamehameha I, otherwise known as Kamehameha the Great.

Mo’okini Heiau, a National Historic Landmark, is one of the island’s most renowned “luakini heiau,” or sacrificial temples, believed to be around 1500 years old.

The Mo’okini Heiau is 250 feet by 130 feet and comprises an open stone-paved courtyard enclosed by 20-foot-high stone walls.

Ruins at Kohala Historical Sites State Monument

Alexandre G. ROSA /

Just a little further down the road from Mo’okini Heiau lies Kamehameha Akahi Aina Hanau Heiau, the birthplace of Kamehameha I, which serves as a memorial to Hawaii’s greatest king.

Visitors can access the site through the entrance located on the south side, where rock is said to have been placed on the exact spot where Kamehameha I was born.

Rock marker at Kohala Historical Sites State Monument

Alexandre G. ROSA /

Try a Canopy Adventure at Kohala Zipline

If you’re looking for an unforgettable experience on the Big Island, visit Kohala Zipline, a spectacular aerial trekking canopy zipline adventure in Hawi!

Nestled among the treetops of Halawa Gulch, the Kohala Canopy Adventure of Kohala Zipline offers an exhilarating journey featuring soaring tree platforms, daring zip lines, and towering suspension bridges.

Their highly-trained guides will have you navigating, zipping, and trekking suspension bridges in no time.

Your safety is their top priority!

Founded by Rob and Cindy Pacheco in 2011, Kohala Zipline was designed to provide a unique canopy tour experience that stands out from other zip lines in Hawaii.

Whether an experienced zipline junkie or a first-time thrill-seeker, you won’t find a better canopy adventure on the Big Island than Kohala Zipline!

Relax with a Massage at Pure Bliss Healing Arts

Whether seeking relief from pain and stress or simply looking for some pampering, Pure Bliss Healing Arts will help you feel your best.

Initially founded in 2015 as Pure Bliss, Pure Bliss Healing Arts became a Private Health Association in 2022.

It ensures the welfare of its members, including residents and visitors.

Their massage and bodywork services and healing energy work are customized to meet your needs and treatment goals!

With the help of their team of expert therapists, rest assured you’re in good hands.

Their services include a range of options, such as Lomilomi (a Hawaiian healing bodywork), therapeutic, deep tissue, sports, and pregnancy massages, Ashiatsu (barefoot massage), Reiki (energy healing), aromatherapy, and more!

Don’t hesitate to book an appointment and experience the rejuvenating benefits of Pure Bliss Healing Arts.

Shop for Souvenirs at Elements Jewelry & Fine Crafts

Wind chimes in Elements Jewelry & Fine Crafts

Eric Broder Van Dyke /

Drop by Elements Jewelry & Fine Crafts, where everything is handmade!

Elements Jewelry & Fine Crafts offers a fantastic assortment of jewelry made by local artisans in Hawaii, creative pottery and glass, a curated selection of books, cards, and Fair Trade-quality goods.

From dazzling fine jewelry and unique pieces to wearable art created from recycled materials, there’s something for everyone at Elements!

This store is a favorite shopping destination for locals and frequent visitors, so it’s a must when visiting North Kohala for the first time.

Elements Jewelry & Fine Crafts is conveniently located across from Kohala Coffee Mill.

Indulge in Luxury Camping at the Haven at Hawi Nani Ranch

The Haven at Hawi Nani Ranch is a luxurious camping destination that offers a unique blend of rural ranch life and modern comforts.

Nestled amidst 20 acres of verdant green pastures along the scenic Kohala Coast, this haven provides an ideal escape for those seeking to reconnect with nature.

Their 16′ Stargazer Bell Tents, one of this retreat’s highlights, offer an unparalleled glamping experience.

These spacious canvas tents have 360-degree clear roof panels that offer breathtaking views of the starry night sky or white fluffy clouds.

Hawi Nani Ranch is a working ranch with various farm animals like chickens, goats, ducks, rabbits, horses, dogs, cats, fruit trees, and a vegetable garden.

With its strategic location close to all the best attractions and panoramic views of the mountains and ocean, your stay at the Haven at Hawi Nani Ranch will surely be an unforgettable experience.

Join a UTV Tour with Kohala UTV Adventures

Explore Kohala’s untouched countryside and rich history with Kohala UTV Adventure!

Experience a unique glimpse of the immaculate Hawaiian landscape and the history and legends that have inspired them.

Join them on a guided UTV excursion along the rim of the Pololū Valley, the northernmost valley among the seven valleys of Kohala.

Their five-seat off-road UTVs will safely take you through the beautiful meadows of a working cattle ranch toward the direction of the sea.

Then, you will go up into the mountains, where chilly mists, thick forests, and gushing streams await!

Kohala UTV Adventure’s UTV tour is leisurely paced, informative, fascinating, and enjoyable, making it the perfect eco-activity for individuals and groups.

See the Windmills of the Hawi Wind Farm

Windmills at Hawi Wind Farm

Dejan Stanisavljevic /

The Hawi Wind Farm, located at Upolu Point on the northern tip of Hawaii, has been operating for over 15 years.

It provides clean energy to more than 2100 households in the Kohala region and other parts of the island.

Spanning over 250 acres of ranch land, this project comprises 16 wind turbines with a generating capacity of 10.56 MW.

The Hawi Wind Farm also supports local agriculture through cattle ranching on the grounds.

Besides providing renewable energy for generations to come, Hawi Wind Farm preserves the area’s 250 acres and creates jobs for local families in the region.

A trail at Hawi Wind Farm

mason bryant from Seattle, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Feel the Rush at Skydive B.I.G.

For an exhilarating adventure on the Big Island, look no further than Skydive B.I.G. (Big Island Gravity)!

Every morning, Skydive B.I.G. offers tandem skydiving from the coast of Upolu Airport in Hawi.

As you soar high over the breathtaking Kohala Coast and the Seven Sacred Valleys, you’ll see dozens of black sand beaches and massive waterfalls, creating an awe-inspiring vista.

When you reach nearly 12,000 feet, you’ll jump out of the aircraft with your professional skydiving instructor for an unforgettable freefall.

In addition, a complimentary video of your flight and jump is provided so that you can relive the experience for generations to come.

With expert skydivers, pilots, and instructors, Skydive B.I.G. ensures that first-time and seasoned skydivers will have a safe, enjoyable, adrenaline-filled tour over the Big Island’s vast volcanic craters and rural valleys, dense rainforests, and beautiful beaches!

Other Things to Do Nearby

Enjoy Beachfront Views at Kapa’a Beach Park

The waters of Kapa’a Beach Park

norinori303 /

If you prefer a secluded and intimate beach experience, Kapa’a Beach Park on the northwestern shore of the Big Island is the perfect spot for you.

Located only eight minutes from Hawi’s downtown area, this park offers a serene, relaxing environment.

Due to the lack of nearby development, Kapa’a Beach Park may feel somewhat isolated from tourist traps in this part of the island.

Palm trees at Kapa’a Beach Park

norinori303 /

Despite the rocky shoreline, this beach park is still famous for picnicking, fishing, diving, whale watching, camping, and enjoying a breathtaking sunset.

Swimming is not recommended due to the rocky terrain.

The park also boasts excellent amenities, including picnic tables, barbecue grills, a pavilion, restrooms, and showers.

Final Thoughts

Hawi offers the best of both worlds!

Whether you seek tranquility or adventure, Hawi has something to offer everyone.

The town boasts a rich heritage, gorgeous landscapes, quirky shops, fantastic restaurants, and creative boutiques that cater to a wide range of interests.

Explore the best things to do in Hawi, Hawaii!

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