The Waipio Valley is a legendary sacred center for the historical political and religious life in Hawaii. It is located on the northern Hanakua Coast near the northern tip of the Big Island of Hawaii. It is as dramatic and lush as anything that can be found in the Hawaiian Island chain. This fertile valley is bordered on three sides by 2,500-foot high cliffs with spectacular waterfalls including Hiilawe Falls, which drops more than 1,000 feet. This picturesque valley faces the strong Pacific surf along the Hamakua coast, where it is fringed by an impassable reef. This hidden valley is about 6 miles deep and is a spectacular green paradise that is flourishing with native Hawaiian foliage and is teaming with waterfalls, rivers, fish ponds and trails that lead to a pristine mile long black sand beach.
Waipio Valley steeped in Hawaiian history. The name means Curving Water and was once the home a substantial Hawaiian community. It was the home of King Kamehameha and the source of many island legends with an interesting social and cultural history. In 1946 a tsunami devastated the valley and today, there are less than 100 residents living amongst the waterfalls, taro fields and rivers permeating the valley.
Waipio Valley was once home to Hawaiian royalty who oversaw the cultivation of taro root (loi) in the valley’s fertile earth. Today, an interesting mix of old Hawaiian families and newcomers make their home in Waipio with some of them still cultivating taro. When visiting the valley, remember that this is someone’s home and an area that is steeped in Hawaiian culture so enjoyed but be respectful.
To get to Waipio Valley, turn off of the Hawaii Belt Road (Highway 19) onto Highway 240 at the town of Honokaa. Follow Highway 240 for about 9.5 miles where it dead ends at the valley’s lookout point. You can view the valley from the coastal Waipio Valley Overlook at the end of the Hamakua Heritage Corridor drive. The road into the valley is extremely steep and challenging and requires a 4-wheel drive vehicle. Driving is not recommended. Alternatives to driving down yourself or hiking into the valley includes taking a shuttle, a mule drawn wagon tour, an ATV Tour, or a horseback tour. However you get there, it is worth the trip for the tantalizing views of the coast and to explore the hidden wonders of the valley.
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