Waipi'o Valley Hawaii, Valley of the Kings, is one of the most spectacular valleys in all of Hawaii. Beautiful beyond imagination, steep walls of thick vegetation drop abruptly to the lush and verdant valley floor, with waves washing up on the soft grey sand along the nearly mile-long beach. It is often called Valley of the Kings because it was once the residence of many Hawaiian ali'i (chiefs or kings).
Waipi'o Valley Hawaii is the largest of seven valleys that fan out along the north coast of the Big Island. Pololu Valley sits at the opposite end, approximately 10 miles (16k) northwest of Waipi'o.
The stunningly scenic Waipi'o overlook marks the end of the Hamakua Heritage Corridor drive, on the northeast side of the Big Island along the Hamakua Coast. Dramatic views from the overlook into the depths of this valley of kings make Waipi'o worth a stop even if you don't actually venture down to the bottom.
The overlook is the starting point for more great hiking in Hawaii, as the very steep one-lane road drops more than one thousand feet straight down to the valley floor. Did we mention steep? The hike down is pleasant enough, less than a mile to the bottom. Coming back up feels far longer and will really test your endurance! Take your time and stop along the way to enjoy the awesome view.
When you reach the valley floor, bear right to the shoreline, then turn left and cross the small stream that cuts across the beach. Enjoy the long walk along the beach and gaze up at steep cliffs that shoot skyward on both sides of the valley, in some places more than 2000 feet (610 meters). Waipi'o beach is not a good place to swim unless the surf is really calm. Rip currents are common.
For more adventurous explorers interested in a longer and more strenuous Big Island hike, the trail continues straight up the far west side of Waipi'o Valley, zigzagging to the top and then across into Waimanu, the next valley over. It's too far to make it all the way to Waimanu Valley and back in one day. If you wish to explore beyond Waipi'o you'll need to secure the necessary backpacking and camping permits weeks in advance by contacting the Division of Forestry and Wildlife in Hilo (808-974-4221).
To reach the Waipi'o overlook, drive west about twenty minutes from the community of Honoka'a on the north side of the Big Island. Honoka'a is just off Highway 19, about 20 minutes east of Waimea. If you aren't up for hiking, the scene from the overlook itself is enough for many visitors.
There are also other options for a different and fun way to explore the valley. Some of the great Waipi'o Valley tours include four-wheel drive van tours, horseback riding tours, and even mule-drawn wagon rides. We don't recommend attempting to drive down the narrow and crazy-steep road on your own. You'll need a reliable four-wheel drive vehicle with very good brakes (and very good insurance!). Instead, why not join one of the tours as they provide access to the best parts of the valley without the hassle.