Forming a deep natural amphitheater that’s washed by the sea and waterfalls, the Waipio Valley, on the Big Island of Hawaii, is a natural wonderland marked by rain forests and hiking trails. Cliffs thousands of feet high plunge to the valley floor, where a curved black-sand beach meets the sea.
Known for its rich history and its natural beauty alike, the “Valley of the Kings” offers experiences for just about every type of traveler. Ride ATVs while learning about the valley’s lore, snap photos from the Waipio Valley Lookout, soar above 2,000-foot (610-meter) cliffs in a helicopter, or spend the day visiting some of Hawaii’s most famous waterfalls, including the towering Hi’ilawe Falls.
Things to Know Before You Go
- Waipio Valley is a must-see for adventure travelers, history buffs, or first-time visitors to the island.
- Remember to bring sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat.
- Don’t attempt to drive a rental car into the valley; the road is extremely steep and many rental agreements prohibit it.
- Hiking down to the black-sand beach requires a high level of physical fitness, but anyone can enjoy the views from the Waipio Valley Lookout.
How to Get There
The stunning Waipio Valley is located on the Big Island’s northern Hamakua Coast. The roads here are notoriously steep and should only be accessed by four-wheel drive, horseback, or organized tour (from Kukuihaele).
When to Get There
Since the views are one of the biggest draws, plan to visit on a clear, sunny day. November is the wettest month on the Big Island, and rain tends to impact how much of the valley is visible. Organized tours typically don’t run on Sundays.
Sacred, Mythical, Historical Waipio Valley
The Waipio Valley was once the home of many of Hawaii’s past rulers, and has great sacred and mythical significance. It was here where Kamehameha the Great (the first ruler of a unified Kingdom of Hawaii) was proclaimed the future ruler of the islands by Kakailimoku (a Hawaiian god). It’s also the site of several important Hawaiian temples, or heiaus.