Kapaau is a small village on the northern tip of Hawaii’s Big Island, famous for being the birthplace of King Kamehameha. The town’s main draw is the original King Kamehameha statue that stands in front of the visitor center. Built in Florence in 1880, the statue was lost during a shipwreck off the coast of the Falkland Islands and was miraculously recovered 32 years later.
A visit to Kapaau is included on most tours of the Big Island’s North Coast, along with other top area attractions like the village of Hawi, the Pololu Valley Overlook, and the Kohala Historical Sites State Monument. You can learn about the region’s rich culture and history at the Kohala Welcome Center.
More adventurous visitors can choose a zipline canopy adventure tour from Kapaau and fly through the rainforest and enjoy views of the Pacific from the park’s suspension bridges. You can also choose a hike through the region’s historic sugar plantations or to the Kohala waterfalls.
Things to know before you go
- A visit to Kapaau is a must for visitors interested in Hawaiian History.
- Pants and closed-toed shoes are strongly recommended for zipline tours.
- Bring a bathing suit for hiking tours since you’ll have a chance to cool off in waterfall pools.
- Zipline and hiking tours are not wheelchair-accessible.
How to get there
The town of Kapaau is located on the northern end of Hawaii’s Big Island near the town of Hawi and Halaula, about a 40-minute drive from Waimea and 60 minutes north of Kailua-Kona. Public transportation options are limited in the North Kohala area, so it’s easiest to reach Kapaau with a rental car or tour from Waimea or Kailua-Kona.
When to get there
Hawaii enjoys year-round warm weather, so it is a pleasant place to visit any time of year. The summer months and winter holiday season are the busiest times in Hawaii, so visit outside of that time to avoid the crowds. The Kohala Welcome Center is open year-round but opening hours vary throughout the week, so it’s advisable to check on these before you visit.
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