My Favorite Hawaii Big Island Vacation

by Jill S
(Lake Geneva, WI)

5 years ago my husband and I decided to expand our horizons beyond Kauai and Maui by planning a vacation to the Big Island. We are avid hikers and decided that the mysterious Waipio Valley, located on the northern Hamakua coast, was the place to spend our day.

Waipio Valley is located at the bottom of a treacherous, windy, steep one-lane road, only accessible by four-wheel drive. We hiked to the bottom and then meandered through the valley, looking for a trail to take us out the other side and into the myriad of steep coastal mountains. Directions to the trail were given to us by a local man who was accompanied by his three year old grandson (clad only in rain boots). He not only gave us directions but pointed out that the entire valley had been wiped out some years ago by a tidal wave.

We walked quickly. There are horses wandering the valley, watching us warily as we passed through forested areas and pastures. There's a spectacular waterfall at the far end of the valley; we could see it off in the distance but had no idea how to find it. As we arrived at the beach and continued northward, we could find nothing that indicated the trailhead out of Waipio. Again, we asked for directions, but this time they came from a man and woman who were sunbathing on the beach, wearing nothing but floppy hats and big smiles! We waded through a muddy taro patch and there was our trail.

It must have been fifty switchbacks out of the valley - and in the hot afternoon sun. We hiked through numerous small valleys, lovely and quiet, except for the hordes of mosquitoes. Too soon, it was time to turn around and head back into the valley and up the steep road to our car. We were passed by a jeep loaded with tourists, all looking at us with pity in their eyes. We celebrated our hike that evening with a mahi-mahi dinner that included a slice of Hula Pie (after all, I know I hiked off those calories ;-) And that pie more than made up for the fifty plus bites on my arms and legs!

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