Hawaii Island (also called the Big Island to make it less confusing) is the youngest of the Hawaiian chain at merely 800,000 years old. It’s also the largest island at 4,028 square miles (divided into seven main regions) and it’s climate contrasts vary to the extremes.
In the week that we were there, we experienced many of these climate changes: daily showers of rain in the Kona region; viewing the Kilauea summit at 3,000-4,000 feet above sea level; cool, misty breezes on the Kohala coast; and, on Friday, the seemingly desert conditions of the North Kohala region.
My Aunt Lynda wanted to visit Parker Ranch and Anna’s Ranch in the upper Kohala Coast and North Kohala regions. She owns cattle and horses with her husband in their northeast Arkansas ranch so these Hawaiian ranches were right up her alley.
The drive there was shocking though since the view was the opposite of what we’d seen so far. Apparently, gohawaii.com says the area gets no more than about five inches of rain per year. We even saw lots of cactus.
Our first stop was Parker Ranch, one of the country’s oldest ranches. It’s 160-years-old and it’s beginning started when John Parker jumped ship in 1809. It’s also the home for 50,000 marines between 1942 and 1945 as they prepared for the battles of Iwo Jima and Okinawa since the area had similar terrain. Here’s some random pictures of the headquarters.
The ranch’s history is portrayed artistically at the nearby Parker Ranch Center, which hosts shops and restaurants. “The history of Parker Ranch Paniolo” is a mural series painted by Marcia H. Ray in 2002. It’s “geographically-positioned” — you are viewing the murals in the same direction you would see them outside. The Kamuela artist did a great job and spent several months researching before she even started. She interviewed several working and retired ranch paniolos (the Hawaiian version of cowboys) and their wives to learn the culture and lifestyle as well as people in the Waimea community. The murals are 24 feet wide and 6-and-a-half feet high and are done by oil. The whole process took place over a 2-year period.
I also liked the above sea turtle placed in the center’s entrance for it’s food court. Speaking of food, I recommend eating at the Village Burger, which is known for supporting the island ranchers. It touts itself as having “pasture raised beef, hormone and antibiotic free.” The burgers are amazing!
Our last and briefest stop of the day was at Anna’s Ranch Heritage Center. The ranch was established in 1848. We barely missed the ranch’s closing for the day so we ended up looking around outside before heading back to our townhouse to officially finish packing.