According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 Americans don’t sleep enough. If your smartphone stays on 24/7, you know what this means: you need a vacation. No quick weekend in Vegas. A real vacation—-one that can only be enjoyed as an extended stay holiday where you escape for weeks, not days.
The place? Waimea. In terms of things to do in Waimea extended stay possibilities, you couldn’t get bored here if you tried. This gorgeous area on the Big Island, known for horseback riding, cowboys and rodeos, offers the perfect balance of tranquility and action, and our alphabetic guide makes sure you don’t miss a thing.
Things to do in Waimea extended stay vacations
A is for Anna Ranch (https://www.annaranch.org/ranch-tours/)
Built in 1910 and preserved by a non-profit trust, this rustic compound was once home to one of Hawaii’s most beloved community leaders, a woman who took multi-tasking to new heights. Anna was a pā‘ū queen, jockey and cowgirl. Tour the restored Lindsey home to learn how five generations contributed to the state’s ranching legacy.
B is for beaches (https://www.lovebigisland.com/big-island-beaches/#north-coast-beaches)
The North Coast is awash in beaches. Some are idyllic swim destinations; others challenge visitors to extreme surfing environments. If you thrive on excitement, frequent beaches surrounded by 1000-ft cliffs or surf fabled waters. There’s a reason they call this “the resort coast.” Your extended stay gives you time to see them all.
No need to rush your underwater time since you’ve set aside weeks or perhaps a month for your visit to Waimea. During that time, explore coral reefs and aquatic marine life. Head west to find snorkeling and scuba diving spots that never disappoint. If you’ve only time for one stop, make it Shark’s Cove where diving at night is magical.
D is for duffers (http://hamakuagolf.com/)
The Big Island is known as the “golf capital of the state,” so if you worry that your technique will suffer due to your extended vacation time, relax. Around half of all Big Island golf courses are in close proximity, including Hamakua Country Club, founded in 1926 and designed by Scottish engineers who created a golfer’s paradise.
E is for eating (http://www.restauranteur.com/hi/bigisland/waimea.htm)
Bring your appetite to Waimea. From breakfast at Waimea’s Saturday farmer’s markets to eateries that run the gamut from Mexican to Italian culinary treats, don’t miss Big Island Brewhouse to sample homemade beer or Village Burger, where pasture-raised lamb and beef are elevated to an art. Vegan? Dine on yummy mushroom and taro burgers.
F is for farmer’s markets (http://www.paniolopreservation.org/heritage-center/waimea-midweek-farmers-market/)
Too busy snoozing on weekends to for the Saturday farmer’s market breakfast we just cited? No worries. Head for Pukalani Stables on Wednesday. Browse Paniolo Heritage Center to see the Paniolo Hall of Fame that pays homage to Waimea’s cowboy heritage. Pick up soaps, jams, baked goods and steaks at this popular farmer’s market.
G is for Gallery of Great Things (http://www.galleryofgreatthingshawaii.com/index.php)
This treasure trove is home to arts and crafts made by 200+ local artisans, so take your time browsing this fascinating gallery. Founded by Maria Elizabeth Covington Brick in 1984, she converted a former WWII nurse’s quarters into her shop and dedicated herself to preserving and showcasing the cultural arts of native Polynesian artists.
H is for hiking (https://hawaiitrails.hawaii.gov/trails/#/)
Oh, the trails you’ll trek and the sights you’ll see, no matter which trail you choose. Sign up for a hiking excursion if you’re not experienced or go it alone if you’ve undertaken daunting hikes back home and know a thing or two about staying safe. You’ll be around long enough to tackle all 18 trails if this is the way you unwind.
I is for Issacs Art Center (http://isaacsartcenter.hpa.edu/)
If the Gallery of Great Things is all about crafting, the Isaacs Art Center represents fine art Hawaii style. See hand-crafted koa wood furnishings, Niihau shell necklaces with $10,000+ price tags and discover the work of favorites, Madge Tennent and Martha Greenwell. There’s no admission fee, but if you purchase something, an amount will be donated to the Hawaii Preparatory Academy next door.
J is for James Cook (https://www.hawaii.com/big-island/attractions/captain-cook-monument/)
The British explorer James Cook discovered the Hawaiian Islands for Britain in 1778. Anchoring in Waimea Bay, his arrival was cause for celebration—until Hawaiians realized he was not the fertility god Lono. If you’re enjoying your extended time in the Waimea area, visit his obelisk to thank him for finding this heavenly place.
K is for Kona Brewing Company (https://konabrewingco.com/come-visit)
Tour a plant that makes beer? Yes, please. Kona Brewing Company has been around since 1994 and has become a Mecca for beer drinkers who followed this boutique brewery’s growth. Beers are made with locally-sourced ingredients and you can sample them on the 2,000 square-foot outdoor lanai, at the U-shaped Koa bar, before or after your tour.
Yes, you must attend one, but since you’re staying a long time, you can enjoy as many of them as you like. Every luau is unique so don’t take the word of one reviewer. Get a recommendation from your accommodations host or other guests and show up prepared to be pampered and well fed.
M is for motor revving (https://www.hawaii.com/big-island/things-to-do/atv-tours/)
In case you haven’t heard, ATV riding and tours are trending. If you love to give a new place the once over by tooling around on a vehicle that gives you access to places you can’t see from the road, explore cliffs, forests and other off-road territory by renting an ATV (ask your host for help) to satisfy your inner explorer during your extended stay.
N is for Niihau (http://niihau.us/heli.html)
Known as The Forbidden Island, Niihau is off limits to Hawaiian citizens and tourists, but there are ways around this prohibition if you want to see a place that’s lost in time. Take a day-long snorkel or dive trip or a helicopter fly-over to glimpse life on the island from a distance. If you are willing to spend the money, you can hunt or take a half-day guided tour on Niihau as long as you make reservations.
O is for Ohia (https://keolamagazine.com/culture/ohia-lehua-legend/)
This tree and flower come with a legend that melts the hearts of the least romantic traveler. Pele, the volcano goddess, is in charge of this tree’s lush blossom, so if you see and pick this flower, you risk triggering rain. Why? Because the myth has to do with a handsome warrior named Ohia who refused to marry Pele because he loved Lehua. Pele turned him into this tree. Pick up a book on this legend. You’ve lots of time to read it!
These carved stone images date back thousands of years and attest to the creative genius of people living throughout Hawaii who used primitive carving tools to etch symbols into rock. Hawaii has two major petroglyph fields west of Waimea: Waikoloa and Puako. Bring a camera, a sketchbook and your curiosity.
Q is for Queen (https://www.britannica.com/biography/Liliuokalani).
Americans suffering from royal family envy because they follow the House of Windsor are welcome to adopt Queen Liliuokalani, Hawaii’s most revered queen, while vacationing in Waimea. She won’t mind if you continue to claim her after you get home either!
R is for ranches and riding (https://waipioonhorseback.com/).
Given this region’s history of ranching, cowboys and all things western, even if you don’t make a pilgrimage to the Anna Ranch, you owe it to yourself to explore other ranches and pastures that dot peaks and coastlines around Waimea. Guided tours by horseback are popular recreational activities for myriad reasons, so saddle up and see this paradise from the top of a sturdy mount.
S is for Stargazing (http://www.keckobservatory.org/visit)
Since Waimea is located at an elevation of nearly 3000-feet, stargazing can’t be surpassed. To make this activity an unforgettable experience, visit the W. M. Keck Observatory where the study of astronomy is both fascinating and entertaining. You’ll have to book in advance to be included on the observatory guest list, but it costs nothing to see stars in ways you’ve only dreamed about from the window of your long-term lodging.
T is for tallest mountain (http://www.ifa.hawaii.edu/info/vis/visiting-mauna-kea/visiting-the-summit.html)
Kill two birds with one stone by pairing a visit to the Observatory with time spent on Mauna Kea, the dormant volcano that last erupted about 4000 years ago. With its base located on the ocean floor and peak jutting 13,796 feet above sea level, the tallest mountain in the world will capture imagination and you could run into scientists from 11 different countries who conduct research there.
U is for Ulu Laau (http://www.waimeaoutdoorcircle.org/who-we-are/)
Known as Waimea Nature Park to residents, this 10-acre, state-maintained land project is also known as Ulu Laau, Hawaiian for “garden of trees.” Since 2000, this lush acreage has been planted with 36 types of indigenous shrubs, trees and ground cover. A favorite spot for Waimeans, you’ll find picnic tables, a water fountain and a Wi-Fi signal for the device you were supposed to leave home!
V is for volcanos and valleys (https://www.nps.gov/havo/index.htm)
Must you choose between Kalalau Valley and Waimea Canyon or Volcanoes National Park? Of course not. You have ample time to visit both because your stay is extended. Rain forest walks on the valley floor are inspiring, as is the visitor’s center at Volcanoes National Park. Stand at the edge of a crater. Take in moon-like landscapes created by lava flows. Be forewarned: the urge to study geology could strike.
W is for waterfalls (https://www.lovebigisland.com/waterfalls/#hiilawe)
There are 13 “Big Island” waterfalls in proximity to Waimea and if the thrill of rushing water has always calmed and soothed you, prepare to be enchanted by these dramatic natural wonders. Drive to one or two in an hour or consider a tour of four or five. Of course, the helicopter tour mentioned earlier is another way to see waterfalls, but why rush since your vacation itinerary doesn’t require you to do so?
X is for X-Rated beaches (https://www.tripsavvy.com/nude-beaches-in-hawaii-1529579)
Not afraid to take it all off on beaches that invite you to go au natural? Hawaii’s state park beaches forbid birthday suit bathing, but that doesn’t mean plenty of visitors don’t take it all off to swim at locations well-known to locals. Visit steam baths in natural caves near Hilo on Highway 130 at mile marker 15 where the clothing-optional Steamvent Guesthouse lets you decide how much you want to wear.
A gem among relaxed dining experiences, Yong’s Kal-Bi is a favorite go-to diner for a healthy bite of Asian, Korean, Vegetarian cuisine. Affordable and highly rated, it’s close to the Waimea Theater and the service is as awesome as the food, say repeat diners from around the world who discovered this eatery while on vacation.
Z is for ziplining (https://www.lovebigisland.com/big-island-ziplining/)
Whether you’re a pro while attached to a zipline rig or you’ve been promising to try this out, you couldn’t find a better environment in which to sail over tropical splendor while challenging your risk quotient than a Waimea zipline experience. See jungles, forests, meadows and ravines from aloft in addition to those waterfalls. Zipline tours are trendy and safe. What are you waiting for?