Waimea (aka Kamuela) is rainbow country, an old cowboy town with horseback riding, but also one where new housing developments are threatening to impact the very charming reasons why the newcomers wanted to settle here in the first place.
Parker Ranch in Waimea sprawls around the rural and rolling pastures of the peninsula, from the ocean to the slopes of Mauna Kea, which dominates the southern perspective. The largest family-owned ranch in the U.S., the Parker spread has a colorful history dating back to Kamehameha the Great.
In 1809, New Englander John Parker went AWOL from his ship and soon found himself cleaning the fishponds and tending the cattle of King Kamehameha; he conveniently married the king’s granddaughter and ended up with some acres of his own. The ranch was formally established in 1847, and today it consists of 130,000 acres (one of the largest in the U.S.); more than 10,000 female cows; and about 40 paniolo (cowboys) who work the ranch, which is overseen by a trust.
The museum holds artifacts and photographs pertaining to six generations of Parkers that illuminate the family and life on the ranch. Two historic homes are located nearby. Mana Hale, a rustic New England saltbox-style house made from koa, was built in 1874 and served as the original family residence. It’s almost hard to appreciate so much koa, which was used for the bed headboard, walls, ceilings, and floors. Pu‘uopelu was built later by other Parker descendants and houses an impressive collection of works by European masters like Pissarro, Degas, and Renoir along with priceless objets d’art from Japan and China. The ranch hosts a rodeo on July 4 if you are here.
‘Imiola Congregational Church dates to 1857 and is particularly noteworthy for its beautiful koa interior and the koa calabashes that are suspended from the ceiling.