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Waipi’o Valley and Hamakua Coast

As you travel north out of Hilo along the Hamakua Coast, the highway towers above the rocky coastline and rough seas. Stop along the way at the Laupahoehoe Point County Park for a up-close and personal view of the waves crashing onto the volcanic rocky shore.

At the north end of the eastern side of the Big Island lays the Waipi’o Valley. One look and the visitor can see why this was and still is a sacred place of the Hawaiian People. Travel into the valley to experience it’s scenic beauty.

Waipi’o Valley

If you are heading to the Big Island, you are probably planning on visiting Waipi’o Valley on the Hamakua Coast. Waipi’o Valley is a very beautiful place.

As you will read in your guidebook, the valley includes waterfalls, a long black sand beach, and tropical surroundings. The road into the valley has a 25% grade, so no cars can enter the valley. To enter the valley you can take a van tour, horse tour, wagon tour, or walk.

Tips for Visiting Waipi’o Valley

Weather

Think about why you want to visit Waipi’o Valley. If you want to take pictures, plan around the weather. Go in the morning if you want the sun on the main waterfall. If the weather isn’t right and you do not have a lot of time, consider taking your pictures from the vista point at the top, and then moving on.

Hiking In

It took us about an hour and 10 minutes to walk into the valley and about the same to hike out. The adults in the group found walking down harder. The kids handled this hike pretty well. We had lots of snacks and the valley is full of wild horses, which helped.

 Driving In

According to the local newspaper, tourists try to drive their rental cars into the valley and routinely get stuck. The locals are tired of it and are looking to ban all outside traffic. We saw lots of white knuckles on the drivers heading up that hill.

Water Hazards

The black sand beach is one of the largest we saw on the island and is very picturesque, but the ocean was very rough the day we were there (and often is). Plan accordingly. There are streams running through the valley, but our guide book warned against going in them as there is a risk of Leptospirosis infection. With that in mind, you can’t get very far into the valley without crossing the stream. Think about what kind of shoes to wear that allow you to cross a stream and hike a couple of miles.

Laupahoehoe Point

Laupahoehoe Point is a county park below the town of Laupahoehoe. Visit this dramatic coast between Hilo and Waipio. The ocean is the star of the show here. We stopped a couple of times to watch the relentless waves crash against the jagged lava coastline. Laupahoehoe Point Park has some nice campgrounds (for Hawaii County Parks). For more information about the campground see the camping page.

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