Top 10 things to do on Big Island for May 16-22: Honoka‘a Western Week, first ever Hala Festival, The Spirit of Kaloko-Honokōhau Day and more

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The diversity of events and activities happening around the Big Island during the next week, as always, is as wide as the people who call the island home.

If you’re looking to enjoy some of your favorite food trucks and live entertainment, Waimea’s got you and the family covered. Music lovers can pick between Kailua-Kona or Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park to find Hawaiian melodies.

Culture and heritage will be celebrated with paniolo pride taking center stage during Honoka‘a Western Week, an event at Kaloko-Honokōhau National Park commemorating the 50th anniversary of a study on the feasibility and desirability of establishing the park and the first-ever Hala Festival in Puna to salute the rich heritage of the hala plant in Hawaiian culture and its significance throughout the islands.

We even included a few bonus things to do this week because there were again so many.

There’s something for everyone to enjoy.

So take a break from those graduation preparations and end-of-the-school-year responsibilities for a little rest and relaxation.


Note: The N2 Dance production of “Inside Out Game Show” in last week’s top things to do on the island originally scheduled for May 10-11 was postponed because the historic Palace Theater in Hilo sustained damage from heavy rainfall. Performances are now at 7 p.m. May 17 and 3 p.m. May 18. Tickets purchased for last week’s shows will be honored for the new dates and additional tickets are available. For more information, including ticket prices, click here.

Here are the top 10 things — plus a few extra — to do on the Big Island for May 16-22.

No. 1 — Waimea Family Food Truck Friday (Waimea, May 17)

Image from Facebook

When: 4 to 8 p.m.

Location: W.M. Keck Observatory headquarters, 65-1120 Māmalahoa Highway

Enjoy some of your favorite food and beverage vendors during this alcohol-free event. There also will be live entertainment by Tahjra from 5 to 7:30 p.m. and keiki activities. Bring an umbrella; the event happens rain or shine. There’s plenty of space for picnic blankets and chairs, so bring them along, too. Free entry.

No. 2 — “Encore! Nani O Kahuku: A Living History Play” (Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park, May 18)

A fence along the Palm Trail in the Kahuku Unit of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park is part of relics from past ranching operations. (National Park Service photo)

When: 11 a.m.

Location: Kahuku Visitor Contact Station, just south of the 70.5-mile marker on the north side of Highway 11 in Kaʻū

Relive a day on Kahuku Ranch and experience the fascinating history of the Jones family, who managed the ranch between 1871 and 1887. Renowned performer Alya-Joy Kanehailua stars in this one-woman play as Nani, the next-to-youngest of the 11 Jones children. This living history memoir is adapted from Nani’s original material and directed by Jackie Pualani Johnson. Free; no entrance fees at Kahuku.

No. 3 — 10th-anniversary celebration for Walk With A Doc (Hilo, May 19)

Courtesy photo

When: 8 to 10 a.m.

Location: Lili‘uokalani Gardens, Banyan Drive


Walking is one of the best things you can do for your overall heath. Dr. Craig Kadooka, who is now retired, decided in 2014 to try Walk With A Doc with his own patients and 35 walkers registered. Ten years later, the free community program that meets every Sunday has had more than 1,000 walkers join in the fun, fitness and fellowship. The community is encouraged to do the same during the anniversary celebration. Health resources will be available, there will be prize giveaways for those who complete their participation stamp cards and light refreshments while supplies last. Free to attend.

No. 4 — Ride of Silence (Kailua-Kona, May 18)

Photo of cyclists during the 2016 Ride of Silence from the Hawai‘i Cycling Club website

When: 9 a.m.

Location: Start and end at Kona Community Aquatic Center, 75-5500 Kuakini Highway

For more than a decade, the Hawai‘i Cycling Club and its partners Coffee Talk Riders and People for Active Transportation Hawai‘i, supported by the Hawai‘i Police Department, have hosted this 2-mile ride aimed at raising awareness about cyclist deaths and serious injuries worldwide while remembering those lost or injured in traffic. A short presentation opens the event with riders rolling out at 9:30 a.m. All cyclists are welcome. Free to participate. Register the day of the event. For more information, click here.

No. 5 — Hawaiian ‘Awa: a Cross-Cultural Tradition (Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, May 21)

Image from the Hawai‘i Forest Institute website

When: 7 p.m.

Location: Auditorium at Kīlauea Visitor Center, 1 Crater Rim Drive

‘Awa, also known as kava, is a traditional ceremonial drink used by many cultures throughout the Pacific islands. The first ‘awa plants were brought to Hawai‘i by Polynesian voyagers. Sam Valdez, farm manager for Pu‘iwa Hawaiian Farms, will discuss ‘awa during this presentation, which is part of the park’s ongoing “After Dark in the Park” series. Valdez’s mission is to bring the nearly extinct Hawaiian ‘awa back to the forefront of island culture and share its healing powers with others. Free, but park entrance fees apply.

No. 6 — Kōkua Kailua Spring Concert (Kailua-Kona, May 19)

Courtesy image of Lawakua

When: 4 p.m.

Location: Emma’s Square, 75-5703 Likana Lane (across from Hulihe‘e Palace)

Hawaiian music will fill the air during this hourlong concert presented by the Kailua Village Business Improvement District, which will feature the ever-popular group Lawakua performing a harmonious blend that captures the essence of the Hawaiian spirit. Together, the band’s three members bring their unique styles and musical influences to create a captivating combination of melodic beauty that resonates with all audiences. Kokua Kailua is a monthly village stroll on Ali‘i Drive with more than 100 vendor booths. The two events are on the same day. Click here for more information. Free to attend.

No. 7 — Honoka‘a Western Week (Honoka‘a, May 18-27)

Photo by Sarah Anderson

When: Various times

Location: Various venues throughout Honoka’a

This festival has celebrated the paniolo culture and heritage for more than 70 years. The weeklong event promises fun from beginning with a parade and block party May 18 to end with the wrap-up of the Hawai‘i Saddle Club Scholarship Rodeo on May 27. A silent auction fundraiser also opens at high noon May 18. Everyone is encouraged to dress up in their Western best and mosey into town for the party, including a farmers market, the Portuguese Bean Soup and Smoke Meat Contest and much more. Be sure to get your official Western Week button at a participating business, too, or you might end up in the pokey until you ante up. They aren’t required for admission, but they do support the festival and scholarships for local youth. For more information, including a complete lineup of events and entry forms, follow Honoka‘a Western Week on Facebook and Instagram or visit the festival’s website.

No. 8 — The Spirit of Kaloko-Honokōhau Day (Kaloko-Honokōhau National Historical Park, May 18)

Big Island Now file photo

When: 10 to 11 a.m.

Location: Hale Ho‘okipa, visitor center at the park, 73-4786 Kanalani St.

The public is invited to this special event marking the 50th anniversary of a study on the feasibility and desirability of establishing Kaloko-Honokōhau as a national park. The event will honor the Honokōhau Study Advisory Commission, which included 14 concerned Big Island kūpuna, that submitted the study May 18, 1974, to the U.S. Department of Interior. The commission envisioned “a special place where Hawaiians could and would recapture, restore and relive the finest hours of their ancestors … a place that was primarily projected to be THE place for the rejuvenation of our rapidly diminishing traditional cultural beliefs and practices.” The park also will unveil a bronze plaque at Hale Ho‘okipa as part of the celebration. Free to attend.

No. 9 — Hala Festival 2024 (ʻĀinaloa, May 18)

Screenshot of image from Hala Festival website

When: 10 am. to 2 p.m.

Location: Maku‘u Farmers Market, 15-2131 Kea‘au-Pāhoa Road

This inaugural festival presented by the Big Island Invasive Species Committee and Pōhaku Pelemaka is a free and vibrant celebration of the rich heritage of the hala plant that is deeply ingrained in Hawaiian culture and the plant’s profound significance in Puna and throughout the islands. The event also is aimed at raising awareness about threats to hala such as hala scale and the coconut rhinoceros beetle while highlighting the plant’s vital role in coastal preservation. Attendees can immerse themselves in a myriad of activities, including live weaving workshops, planting classes and engaging talk story sessions with cultural practitioners. The event will feature live entertainment by Puna musicians, local food vendors, keiki activities, local craft vendors and educational booths. For more information, visit the Hala Festival website.

No. 10 — Hawaiian Music Concert with Kainani Kahaunaele (Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, May 22)

Kainani Kahaunaele photo from the National Park Service website

When: 7 to 8 p.m.

Location: Auditorium at Kīlauea Visitor Center, 1 Crater Rim Drive

Kainani Kahaunaele is a passionate singer and songwriter of Hawaiian music. She teaches Hawaiian language, music and ethnobotany at the University of Hawai‘i at Hilo Ka Haka ‘Ula O Ke‘elikōlani College of Hawaiian Language and Literature. Her three solo albums have garnered 12 Nā Hōkū Hanohano Awards. This is part of the park’s Nā Leo Manu “Heavenly Voices of Hawaiian Music” series. Free, but park entrance fees apply.

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Bonus No. 1 — World Bee Day Fair (Hilo, May 18)

In observance of World Bee Day and the 30th anniversary of Slovenia in the United Nations, the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Slovenia to the United Nations in Vienna organized a honeybee exhibition and inauguration of the Slovenian beehive May 27, 2022, at the Vienna International Centre. (Photo by UNIS Vienna)

When: 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: Mokupāpapa Discovery Center, 76 Kamehameha Ave.

Bring the whole hive to enjoy family-friendly crafts, cooking demonstrations, beekeeper talks, honey tasting, vendors and more. There will be local beekeepers and experts on hand to answer questions and offer advice for supporting and protecting bee populations. World Bee Day, officially May 20, helps raise awareness about the important role bees and other pollinators play in our food security and livelihoods. Whether you’re a bee enthusiast, a nature lover or just curious, this event is the perfect way to get involved and make a difference. For more information, visit the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center website.

Bonus No. 2 — Kona ‘Ohana Fun Festival (Kailua-Kona, May 18)

Courtesy photo

When: 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Location: Kahalu‘u Ma Kai, 78-6740 Ali‘i Drive

More than 200 people are expected to attend this free, family-focused event hosted by Child and Family Service that offers prize giveaways, entertainment, crafts, games, informational booths, entertainment and more. Child and Family Service staff will also be on hand to share information with families about their programs and services that don’t require a referral. Each registered family member will receive one free food ticket, limited to the first 325 guests who RSVP. Registered families must claim meals by 12:30 p.m. Snacks will be provided for the younger children. To RSVP for food, click here.

Bonus No. 3 — Astronomy on Tap (Hilo, May 16)

Image from Facebook

When: 8 to 10 p.m.

Location: Hilo Town Tavern, 168 Keawe St.

Learn more about Hawai‘i astronomy while you have a drink in an atmosphere where all perspectives on the night sky are welcome during this free and casual event. Mary Beth Laychak will talk about the highlights and adventures of the Canada-France-Hawai‘i Telescope, which celebrates its 45th birthday this year. Ema Farina will talk about why black holes are actually bright. For more information, email

Bonus No. 4 — Saturday Night Live Market (Hilo, May 18)

Image from Facebook

When: 5 to 9 p.m.

Location: UFC Gym Hilo, 777 Kino‘ole St.

Immerse yourself in a vibrant community experience filled with local live entertainment, artisan crafts and a delightful array of food vendors. Come celebrate the spirit of aloha, and experience diverse talents and flavors coming together to create a memorable night for all. There will be more than 30 local vendors and also bouncy castles for keiki. Entertainment from 5 to 6 p.m. will be provided by ‘Akamu and from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. by KEA and Hālau Ha‘a Kea O Kinohi. The market is presented by the Penn Hawai‘i Youth Federation and free to attend. For more information or to find out how you can be a vendor, click here.

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In advance — Kahilu Performing Arts Workshop Summer Camp 2024 (Waimea, July 22-Aug. 2, register now)

Courtesy image

When: 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday through Friday

Location: Main stage, Kahilu Theatre, 67-1186 Lindsey Road

Do you have a child 7 to 12 years old interested in the performing arts? Looking for something to keep them acting and learning during the summer? Registration is now open for this 2-week summer musical theater camp, which introduces youth to dynamic aspects of the performing arts, including improvisation, dance and even puppetry, accents, songwriting, filmmaking and more. On the last day of the workshop, campers perform on the Kahilu Theatre main stage for friends and families. Cost for the 2 weeks is $465 plus a $3 registration fee. Scholarships are available by applying online after completing online registration. Class size is limited. Students are accepted on a first-come-first-served basis. For more information or to register, click here.

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