History and Beauty Define the Sleepy Town of Kapaau

By Karen Rose

Kohala Book Shop, Kapaau, North Kohala, Hawaii Island. Photo: brewbooks.


The Island of Hawaiʻi is a utopia of splendor. With rocky coastlines, breath-taking volcanos and majestic mountains, it’s a cornucopia of geographic variety. Hidden on the northern tip of Hawaiʻi Island is the small historical village of Kapaʻau.

Famously known for being the birthplace of King Kamehameha the Great, Kapaʻau is steeped in history and unsurpassed beauty. From warm sunny beach parks to breath-taking valley overlooks, visitors to Hawaiʻi Island will want to include a jaunt up north to their vacation itinerary.

Birthplace of King Kamehameha the Great

King Kamehameha statue in Kapaau, North Kohala, Hawaii Island. Photo: ClarkRealty.

Just beyond the lovely artist colony of Hāwī, the small town of Kapaʻau sits quaint and unassuming. However, beneath its simple and charming exterior lies the deep and rich history of the Hawaiian people. The original statue of King Kamehemeha I stands proud in front of the North Kohala Civic Center, not far from the birthplace of Hawaiʻi’s most celebrated king.

King Kamehameha I was born in 1758, the year Halley’s Comet passed over Hawaiʻi. Destined for greatness from birth, he became a great warrior, diplomat and leader, who united the Hawaiian Islands in 1810 after years of conflict. This unification was crucial to the future of the Hawaiʻi, because without it, the islands would have likey become ripped apart by western influence.

Today, the statue commemorating the great king’s monarchy stands regaly over the sleepy town of Kapaʻau. Every June 11th, on Kamehameha Day, the statue is ceremoniously draped with flower lei to celebrate Hawaii’s greatest king.

Keokea State Park

Keokea Beach Park, Kapaau, North Kohala, Hawaii Island. Photo: Andrey Zharkikh.

After visiting the statue, stop for lunch at Minnie’s Ohana Lim Style for a home-style meal like delicious skirt steak and onions. If enjoying the outdoors is on your agenda, pick up some pizza or deli sandwiches at King’s View Café and head down to Keokea State Park for an ocean side picnic. The park has picnic tables, pavilions, fire pits and barbecue grills.

Pololu Valley

The beach at the mouth of Pololu Valley, North Kohala, Hawaii Island. Photo: Justin Dolske.

Last, but definitely not least, keep driving north until you can drive no further. The dramatic vista of the Pololū Valley Overlook is one of the most epic sights on earth. More adventurous visitors can hike down to the valley to the beach below. Wear sturdy shoes and bring drinking water. The currents are strong and dangerous so swimming is not recommended.

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