Discover King Kamehameha CountryBig Island


While South Kohala attracts most tourists, just 11 miles upslope is a land developers forgot. NORTH KOHALA is lush and green, sparsely populated and unpretentious; it is South Kohala’s country cousin—a breath of fresh mountain air in a landscape barely touched by contemporary influences.

The region’s neighboring hamlets of KAPA‘AU and HAWI, comprising the most-densely populated area in the district, retain a country feel, and merchants take an inventive approach.

And nowhere is KING KAMEHAMEHA THE GREAT, who united the islands in 1810, more revered than in North Kohala. His birthplace, marked by a simple plaque, is west of Hawi on a dirt road near the ruins of MO‘OKINI HEIAU. To get there, take the turnoff to Upolu Airport and turn left at the airfield.

For another view of Hawai‘i’s great ruler, check out the 9-FOOT STATUE of Kamehameha. This 100-PLUS-YEAR-OLD LANDMARK commands a hill in Kapa‘au and is easily visible from Highway 270.

Hawai‘i honors the legacy of King Kamehameha the Great every June 11, KING KAMEHAMEHA DAY. North Kohala celebrates the state holiday with a parade, leidraping ceremony and community ho‘olaule‘a (festival).

Photo: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Tor Johnson