The Sacred Path

Journeys through the mist

The Valley of the Kings: Waipio

Waipio Valley from overlook, late morning

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.

Falls at head of Waipio Valley, Hawai'iDue 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.

Waipio Valley from overlook in late afternoonWe 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.

Click to see additional photos from Waipio


  1. Your photos attest to the natural beauty of the Valley. I would love to visit this special, mystical place one day.

    P.S. I clicked your images and discovered the lightbox. I’s great!

  2. Thanks Timethief. My pocket digital and I don’t get along too well. I can never get it to focus correctly on a scene, so there are about 50 shots that I can’t post because they are fuzzy. I’ll be so glad to have my big equipment back with me.

  3. Thank you also for the link to more description. There is something about a “genuine” sacred place. Loved the pics you posted; Look forward to more of this lovely place.

  4. Muse, thanks and I’ll definitely be doing more photography there, and are right about it being genuine. I felt kind of funny even driving around down in the valley, but the locals do. I just made sure to do it with respect.

  5. Hi, Richard –

    My mom and I spent some time in Hawaii about 10 years back . . . absolutely awesome scenary! I’m so glad I got to see it!

    Thanks for sharing and bringing back some of my memories!

    – Marie (Coming Out of the Trees)

    • Marie, thanks for stopping by, and yes it is beautiful. Here on the Big Island, we have quite a bit of VOG (volcanic smog) to contend with right now since Pele is quite active, but I love it just the same.

      I’ll be posting more photos and such from around Hawaii in the coming months, so drop back by once in a while to see what I’ve added. I’ll be creating a Hawai’i section with photos and such soon.

      By the way, I love the header on your blog, and also the photos from Martin Chen. Very nice.

  6. Stunning photos! Waipio is one place I haven’t been too on the Big Island yet as I’m not too keen on steep roads. It looks so gorgeous. Thanks for sharing the photos.

    • If you ever get the chance, it would be worth the trip down. The road isn’t really that scary, steep yes, but not that scary. It’s (mostly) paved too. 🙂

  7. amazing pics .. must be an awesome camera with some good photography skills :).
    Quite far from india .. 🙁 dont know if i would ever visit that place.. that sure looks a wonderful destination

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