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Experience the Old West in Hawaii

By Patricia Arrigoni Modified: February 23, 2013 at 4:30 pm •  Published: February 23, 2013

Smart returned to run the ranch in 1960, initiating many improvements. Much of the art he displayed in his home, especially the very valuable French Impressionist paintings, had to be sold after his death in 1992 to pay estate taxes, but there is still a valuable collection on view in the living room and dining room.

Next door is a garage with three samples of antique carriages once drawn by horses. A two-story white house next to the carriages has been converted into a museum containing original furnishings, photographs, old Hawaiian-made saddles, clothes and other items representing six generations of ranch life.

The beautifully landscaped gardens are also worth a visit. A large memorial built behind the house marks Smart's burial place — a fitting end to a visit to the Parker Ranch.


Waimea is located near the junction of Highways 19/190 in the north-center of the Big Island of Hawaii. It is only 39 miles from Kailua-Kona on the west coast, which takes about an hour on a two-lane road, Highway 190. The time from Hilo on the east coast is estimated to be one hour and 20 minutes on Highway 19.

Paniolo Heritage Center at Pukalani Stables:

The best hotels in the area are located on the Kohala coast, which is about a 15- to 20-minute drive west to the Pacific Ocean on Highway 19, also known as the Kawaihae Road. The first hotel, built on what was Parker Ranch land in the 1950s, was the Mauna Kea, which now has become luxury rental homes and beachfront rentals. It was completely remodeled a few years ago and is a stunning property: 888-297-3299. Other hotels include: Mauna Lani Bay Hotel and Bungalows, 808-885-6622; Hapuna Prince Resort, 808-880-1111; and the Fairmont Orchid, 808-885-6622.

Good places to eat include Merriman's Waimea, 65-1227 Opelo Road, 808-885-6822; Red Water Cafe, 65-1299 Kawaihea Road, 808-885-9299; Pau Restaurant (pizzas), 65-1127 Opelo Road, 808-885-6325; Lilikoi Cafe (sandwiches), 67-1185 Mamalahoa Highway, 808- 887-1400; Solimene's (Italian), 65-1158 Mamalahoa Highway, 808-887-1313.

Waimea celebrates a Cherry Blossom Festival the first week of February each year and a bang-up rodeo and horse races on July 4.

While the Parker Ranch does not currently offer horseback riding or sunset dinners to the public, other nearby ranches do: Paniolo Adventures, Kohala Mountain Road (Highway 250), North Kohala, HI 96743,, 808- 889-5354; Kahua Ranch Sunset Dinner,, 808-882-7954; Kahua Ranch Horseback Riding,, 808-889-0022.




Patricia Arrigoni is a freelance writer. To read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at