kohala coast on the big island
Puako (Pu-ah-ko) is a small, quaint oceanfront community on the Kohala Coast of the Big Island located about 30 miles north of Kailua-Kona and 22 miles north of the Kona airport. The island’s largest white sand beach, Hapuna, is right next door. The Mauna Lani and Mauna Kea Beach resorts are only 2 miles away. The sun shines 355 days per year and the average temperature highs are in the 80’s with low’s in the 60’s. The ocean’s edge is about 150 feet from your doorstep with crystal blue water that is 72-76 degrees year round.
Puako offers ideal fishing, snorkeling, diving, surfing and kayaking. Walking and biking is a favorite, too! Sea turtles, dolphins and whales are some of the sea life you may see. Puako offers beach style living and a real sense of getting away from it all.
Puako is rich in Hawaiian history. Walk south along the ocean trail to see the petroglyphs. There are approximately 3,000 petroglyphs scattered throughout the Puako Archaeological Fields. These pictures are etched into the lava rock that dominates the Kohala and Kona Coasts. Access to the Puako Petroglyph Park is through the adjacent Mauna Lani Resort.
The waters around Puako are extremely clear due to the fresh water run off and strong coastal currents. Divers and snorkelers can enjoy waters abundant in sea life along the shallow reef at Puako. The Puako Marine Preserve is a protected environment for endangered sea life. Green sea turtles are a protected species and should not be bothered, only enjoyed and admired. Watch the humpback whales play along the coast. Beyond Puako’s reef shelf the whales play and breach during their migration to Hawaii from Alaska. It is quite a sight!
Waialea Bay (Wai-a-le-a) – One of the world’s most beautiful and pristine white sandy beaches is located at Waialea Bay. There are only a handful of homes with this ideal beachfront location.
Waialea’s unspoiled waters and reefs and crystal clear turquoise waters are host to sea turtles, eagle-rays and numerous tropical fish.
There are several championship golf courses in the area at Waikoloa Village, Mauna Kea Resort, Mauna Lani Resort, the Waikoloa Beach Resort and the Waimea Country Club. There are 5 star resorts nearby with shopping and a variety of excellent restaurants.
There is a small friendly general store in Puako with movie rentals available. There are markets in Waimea and in Waikoloa. The King’s Shops and Queen’s Marketplace are about 10 minutes away, both have a great assortment of one of a kind shops, galleries and restaurants.
Kawaihae, a 10 minute drive north has some great restaurants such as Cafe Pesto, Seafood Bar, and The Harbor Grill. Also some cute shops and a great gallery of local artists!
Waimea, a 20 minute drive to the upcountry is a whole other world. With a 2500 ft. elevation I would suggest bringing a sweater as the climate can change dramatically from the warm dry of Puako to the fresh cool “mountain”, sometimes wet and windy of Waimea! There are some fine restaurants in Waimea. Merriman’s and Redwater to name a few. The food court at Parker Ranch almost always has their fireplaces lit! Lovely shops in Waimea and galleries worth seeing.
To Hawi, in North Kohala, is a great day trip. Going along the coast road there are historical sites along the way and when you get to the towns you get a glimpse of old Hawaii. The tropical air is wonderful. At the end of the road is Pololu Valley and is a breath taking view as well as a breath taking hike!! For spectacular scenery be sure to take the “mountain road” back to Puako. This road winds along the Kohala Mountains and what a feast for the eyes! This road connects to the highway back to Puako just west of Waimea.