Great Hikes on Big Island Hawaii!

Even if you don’t like hiking, you can still enjoy the pay-off at one of the great hikes on Big Island Hawaii: Waipio Valley.  That’s because the grand viewpoint (pictured below), with the mother of all views….comes RIGHT at the beginning of the hike!  Whether you choose to descend down to the black sand beach or not, via a very steep road ~ is up to you.  I made the trek up & down with friends & family, some of whom decided to hitch a ride on the way back up…which is a totally sensible thing to do, because this trail is STEEP!!  You can decide whether it’s worth making the trek or not after reading this post…

Let’s Go to Hawaii!

Great Hikes on Big Island Hawaii: Waipio Valley, Girl Who Travels the World

Waipio Valley is one of the great hikes on Big Island Hawaii….& one of the steepest!

Map to Waipio Valley Hike

Waipio Valley is about a 90-minute drive from the Kona International Aiport & Kailua-Kona, where the majority of Big Island visitors stay (& which was where we stayed).  

Waipio Valley Lookout

Kona International Airport

Waipio Valley Hike Info

  • Starting Point: Waipio Valley Lookout Point
  • Total Hike Distance: 3.0 miles
  • Hike Type: Out-and-back
  • Difficulty: Moderate hike, but steep at the end (you descend first, then climb back up)
  • Time: 2-4 hours
  • Elevation Gain: 975 feet
  • Pet-friendly: Only active dogs (**But be advised: Waipio Valley has one of the highest rates of Leptospirosis Virus in Hawaii, & can be contracted by drinking Waipio’s fresh water.  Dogs can then transfer the disease to humans ~ so I would LEAVE YOUR DOG HOME on this hike!!!)
  • Kid-friendly: Yes (active kids)
  • Crowded: Moderate to busy
  • Best Time to Go: Year-round

Photos of Waipio Valley Hike

The parking at the top of the Waipio Valley hike can be tricky: we couldn’t find a spot in the “official” lot, so we found one on a side street, where several other cars had also parked.  From there, we walked a few minutes to the spectacular overlook (shown below), & got several photos.  Then we started to descend the very steep, paved road about 3/4 mile downhill.

Great Hikes on Big Island Hawaii: Waipio Valley, Girl Who Travels the World

Great Hikes on Big Island Hawaii: Waipio Valley, Girl Who Travels the World

If you decide to do the Waipio Valley hike, you’ve got to go down & then back UP this paved road.

Great Hikes on Big Island Hawaii: Waipio Valley, Girl Who Travels the World

You’ll get get lookout points all along your descent. Take pics now ~ because you’ll be too tired on the way up!

Great Hikes on Big Island Hawaii: Waipio

The good news is: you’ll have gorgeous views along your entire descent to the beach.  The bad news: if you have bad knees, the descent may hurt like hell.  And you’re leaving the hard part of the hike for the end ~ which is never fun!  

Great Hikes on Big Island Hawaii: Waipio Valley, Girl Who Travels the World

Mid-way down viewpoint…

Once the descent is finished, you’ll turn right to head towards the beach, & make your way through a shaded area of thick trees & vegetation, on a fairly wide road.  Here, you’ll have pretty, peaceful views of the “Valley of the Kings,” which is what Waipio means when translated.  After about 1/2 a mile, you’ll reach the black sand beach, where the surf can be very rough ~ so I wouldn’t swim or surf here!  Bring beach chairs if you plan to relax for awhile, & wade in the river that runs through the valley.  

Great Hikes on Big Island Hawaii: Waipio Valley, Girl Who Travels the World

Once you descend about a mile, you’ll turn right to head towards the beach ~ & go thru an area of dense greenery & marshland.

Great Hikes on Big Island Hawaii: Waipio Valley, Girl Who Travels the World

The beach at Waipio Valley has a unique, grey-black sand…

Great Hikes on Big Island Hawaii: Waipio Valley, Girl Who Travels the World

Many locals bring chairs & bathing suits to enjoy the water that streams into the ocean at Waipio. 

Where to Stay & Eat by Waipio Valley

If you want to stay near Waipio Valley, two of your best options are: 1) Hale Kukui Orchard Resort (just a 12-minute walk to the Waipio Valley Lookout), & 2) the plantation-style Jacaranda Inn ($189+/night), in Waimea.  As for good meals post-hike, either head to Honokaa (if staying close to Waipio), or Waimea (if heading back towards Kona).  In Honokaa, grab comfort food at Gramma’s Kitchen or pizza at Cafe Il Mondo.  For more variety, head to Waimea like we did ~ where we ate awesome BBQ at The Fish and the Hog.

Great Hikes on Big Island Hawaii, Girl Who Travels the World

This could be your view if you stay at the Hale Kukui Orchard & Cottages near Waipio Valley…

 Great Hikes on Big Island Hawaii: Waipio

You may want to bring bug-repellant on this hike, though none of us were much affected (some people fare worse).  And please be careful if you decide to bring your dogs on this hike!!  Personally, I’d leave the dogs at home, just to be entirely safe.  If you’ve hiked Waipio Valley or another of the great hikes on Big Island Hawaii, please let me know in the comments below!

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