Things to Do in the Town of Hawi
Big Island of Hawaii Things to Do
Nestled at the end of Hawaii’s scenic Kohala Mountain Road (Highway 250) lies the town of Hawi. No matter who you ask or where you look, the words that are always used to describe Hawi are “charming” and “quaint.” This little town on the northwest tip of the Big Island was once close to becoming abandoned but has since become a vibrant center for visitors and locals alike.
The island’s tropical climate allows lush rainforests to grace every hillside leading up to Hawi, allowing the region perfect growing conditions for ample produce such as Kalo (taro), Mai’a (banana), ‘Uala (sweet potato), and Kava (root). The beautiful scenery glimpsed from your window when driving over the Kohala Mountains opens up to a place full of vibrant life and spirit.
The scenery when you arrive at Hawi doesn’t stop. Instead, you can enjoy nightly coastal sunsets, as colorful as the town of Hawi itself, and beaches that are perfect for snorkeling and observing marine life. As a result of the area’s history, there’s a chance that you will find old equipment along the seafloor, a piece of what Hawi used to be. You can even explore on foot with stunning hiking trails to secluded beaches.
Directions to Hawi
The town of Hawi can be accessed either through Highway 270 (Kawaihae to Hawi) and Highway 250 (Waimea to Hawi), but more on that later. When you reach Hawi, you are minutes from the northeastern coast of Hawaii’s Big Island and its well-known Pololu Valley Overlook just to the southwest. Hawi is the perfect way to end your journey through the North Kohala region and is a must-see on your trip to Hawaii.
A Brief History of Hawi
Hawi, now a small community on the northern edge of the Big Island, began as the Kohala Sugar Mill, and after being abandoned, it has since been revived into a vibrant center for unique shops, restaurants, and quaint island life.
Even before the Kohala Sugar Mill, the site was one of the largest centers during the pre-contact era. North Kohala, a region that Hawi is a part of, was home to Kamehameha I. Kamehameha I was the founder and first ruler of what is now the entirety of Hawaii. You can find a statue of King Kamehameha I just beyond Hawi in the town of Kapaau.
As a result of the town’s idyllic, eclectic boutiques and restaurants, the town has quickly become a must-see destination for many visitors to Hawaii. The town is even a stop along the annual IRONMAN™ World Championship’s bike route!
Even though Hawi is considered the largest town on the north shore of the Big Island, the town was recorded to only have just over 1,000 residents a few years ago by the U.S. Census Bureau. The town’s small population makes for a relaxing experience, true to the laid-back atmosphere of the island.
While there are countless places to visit in the townsite of Hawi, below are just the starting points and a few of our very favorites for your exploration of the quaint island spot.
Kohala Mountain Road (Hwy 250)
Many stops along your Hawaii trip may include destinations, but with this particular must-see, it’s the journey that is so unmissable.
Kohala Mountain Road (Highway 250) is a picturesque gateway through cattle ranches and countryside, allowing any traveler to take in the stunning landscape with minimal interruptions in the natural views.
Beginning at Waimea, the drive along the Kohala Mountain Road connects you to the towns of Hawi and Kohala, winding directly over the mountain. The road not only offers a scenic route to your destination of Hawi but is also less trafficked than many other roads in the area.
Hawi Farmer's Market
With lush ranches and farms, Hawaii offers an abundance of fresh, locally grown produce at the Hawi Farmers’ Market.
Established in 2001, the Hawi Farmers’ Market runs every Saturday from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m., with vendors from North Kohala and the nearby towns of Waimea, Kona, Waikoloa, Kau, and Hamakua. The market is located off of Highway 250 under the banyan trees in Hawi, on the corner of Akoni Pule and Hawi Road.
Pick up some treats for the road, ingredients for dinner, or keepsake crafts to take home with you at the Hawi Farmers’ Market.
Tiffany's Art Agency
One of the best ways to experience a new place is to explore some local art spaces that showcase local talent like Tiffany’s Art Agency.
Tiffany’s Art Agency focuses on curating pieces by local artists that touch every one of your senses. Find quality and beauty in every piece within Tiffany’s collection, showcasing mastery among many artists local to Hawi and the greater area.
You can find the gallery nestled on the edge of Hawi, right at the intersection of Highway 270 and the Kohala Mountain Road, the perfect ending to a day driving the scenic mountain route.
Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery
The Bamboo Restaurant and Gallery is a well-known stop in Hawi for its Pacific Rim dishes accompanied by lively island atmosphere.
The Bamboo Restaurant set its roots in a historic, restored plantation building at the end of the Kohala Mountain Road. The longstanding restaurant offers fresh island seafood in classic Hawaiian dishes. And, of course, the dishes at Bamboo Restaurant feature locally grown produce for a fresh, authentic island experience. Start your meal with the fresh and Spicy Green Papaya Salad, then continue with Ko'ala A Opai (Surf and Turf’), and finish with one of the many desserts.
Your trip to Hawaii's Big Island wouldn't be complete without a stop in the eccentric town of Hawi! The eclectic destination is home to many opportunities to pick up unique items while shopping or spend the evening enjoying authentic Pacific Rim-style cuisine. As they say in Hawaii, A ‘o ia!