A while ago, we took a trip over to the Waipio Valley on the east shore of Kohala. The Waipio Valley is a very sacred place to the Hawaiian people and was the home to many Hawaiian rulers. When you visit the valley, you need to first ask permission to enter and if you get that permission, you want to enter with respect for the land and the spirits that live there, and also for the people who live there. Daily, they have to endure hundreds of people walking and driving around the dirt roads and trails, and for the most part, they are quite tolerant.
According to the locals we talked with, this was the first day in quite some time that they valley had not been overcast and rainy. The photo above was from the lookout at the top of the road going down into the valley late morning. The valley is a mile wide and six miles deep with 2000 foot cliffs on each side, and the road at 25% grade requires a four wheel drive if you want to drive down into the valley. With an annual rainfall in excess of 200 inches per year, it is as lush and beautiful as anyone can imagine.
Due to the generous rainfall, the walls of the valley have hundreds of cascading waterfalls and toward the inland end of the valley are two that I definitely want to visit one of these days. The Waipi’o river, fed by these falls, runs through the valley floor and consists of multiple channels, and since there are no roads, your only choice is on foot or horseback. The channels can be quite deep at times ranging from one to four feet deep – or more – depending on how rainy it has been. As with so much in life, timing is everything.
We had a good chance to get a feel for the valley, but a trip back when I have more time is definitely in order, and next time I’ll have all the necessary gear and camera equipment with me. By late afternoon, the clouds had started to move in so we bid goodbye to the valley, expressed our gratitude and headed back up the steep road.