Halawa Valley
Halawa Valley
4.5
Scenic Drives • Valleys
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Situated on the eastern side of Molokai.
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  • Jessica C
    Maple Valley, Washington30 contributions
    AMAZING hike with a glimpse into culture.
    This was an amazing experience! Be prepared for it to last the full five hours. I thoroughly enjoyed the first hour of Greg sharing parts of his culture and family history coupled with photographs. I don't think I'll look at anything that I do in Hawaii the same ever again now that I've been given a glimpse into the "authentic Hawaiian culture" that is still alive in the Halawa Valley. Greg's son, nephew, and cousin did a wonderful job helping with the river crossings (more on this later) and were a wealth of knowledge being able to answer just about any question that we asked. They made my mom (just turned 60 and hates water) more comfortable crossing the unexpected rivers. A thing to note: this hike is not super easy (but nor is it super difficult), you are going up and over obstacles the entire way up. It is roughly 2+ miles from the picnic area that you meet at. There isn't much elevation gain, but lots you can trip on so you have to pay attention to where you walk. Also, depending upon the rain, these are definitely river crossings. My husband and I started with hiking shoes but quickly changed into high quality water shoes with rubber soles for the remainder of the hike. I would highly recommend this option so you don't have to carry your hiking shoes, but make sure that they are higher quality ones that have a rubber sole (not foam). The river crossings were higher than usual due to rain, but be prepared to cross in knee deep water with current. As mentioned the guides did an amazing job getting people across without incident, but that was something we weren't expecting when we booked. I also wouldn't recommend this for young children, I'd probably keep it to a capable 7 year old and up, otherwise you might end up carrying them across the rivers which looks dangerous. Overall, an AMAZING experience that I would do again in a heart beat. My husband and I loved every minute of it. Don't let the price tag sway you, it is well worth the amount paid.
    Written January 4, 2022
  • LoveMrEd2
    Collinsville, Oklahoma38 contributions
    Amazing opportunity to learn history
    This was an incredible cultural experience from the source. Greg is actively in position to carry the torch of teaching people about their true Hawaiian experience. The roots of their family in this valley go back to when there was a thriving community prior to the 1946 tsunami, where all survived due to working together to escape the waters. Fascinating stories from am engaging, charismatic family, I wish I had unlimited time and opportunity to listen. I can't emphasize enough what an amazing opportunity this was. I feel like many other reviews glossed over the reality of the hike to the waterfall. For young, fit hikers, this is probably what I would consider a moderate hike. For anyone whose "fitness" is challenged-- whether by health, condition, agree, etc., I would call this difficult. There is some clambering over boulders, jumping from rock to rock, wading, etc. There's ducking under branches, getting over fallen logs, etc., So requires strength, flexibility and agility. Tanner and Devak are impressively patient and knowledgable. Make sure to do your due diligence on planning the time it takes to drive there and back. The drive is amazingly beautiful, but is a one lane road for the last few miles. There is supposedly a good ahi sandwich available at a place near mile marker 16, but it was closed by the time we got by there on our way back.
    Traveled with family
    Written January 23, 2023
  • Cathy E
    Lahaina, Hawaii17 contributions
    A must do
    Definitely go on the Halawa Valley Falls cultural hike. So beautiful. Greg welcomes you to his home and guides you through the valley while providing lessons of the true Hawaiian culture. Be prepared to cross a stream with flowing water that can go up to your knees. I wore my water shoes and was glad I did. It is a once in a lifetime adventure.
    Traveled as a couple
    Written July 10, 2021
These reviews are the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor checks reviews for fraud.
Detailed Reviews: Reviews order informed by descriptiveness of user-identified themes such as cleanliness, atmosphere, general tips and location information.
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Nati0nalParkFan
Saint Louis, MO19 contributions
Jan 2020
I made reservations on-line for the tour/hike a month ahead of time. Just two days before the hike, I got an email saying the tour had been cancelled and my credit card credited for the fee but I could still take the tour, but had to pay cash. It didn't make much sense to me. I drove out th Halawa Valley (an hour drive), waited 30 minutes and no one ever showed up. I'm still not sure what was going on.
Written February 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Elenita D
Penn Valley, CA32 contributions
Nov 2022 • Couples
This was not only an adventurous hike to a beautiful waterfall but also a fabulous cultural experience. My husband and I learned a lot about the real history of the area. It was a very interesting presentation before the hike, given by the son of the last living resident. You’ll meet the grandfather, the son and grandson.
At the waterfall you can swim, eat your lunch, relax before heading back.
The drive out there is also a beautiful, scenic drive.
Written December 2, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Kenny C
Jefferson, SD60 contributions
Feb 2020
The road is narrow and full of 90 degree turns and switch backs. It’s not for the timid or nervous driver. Most of the road has a great ocean view of some of the prettiest part of Molokai. There are bathrooms and pavilions at the end. The beach at the end is nice but not the highlight. There is a trail back to the waterfall into the valley but you need to have a guide to cross the private property.
Written February 11, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Sue J
Boise, ID416 contributions
Feb 2020
Road signs threatened a bad road, but it was fine! So glad we ventured to the end of the road and beautiful setting.
Stop at all the wide spots and take in the views along the way. Drive to the very end of the road where there is a much bigger parking area (and picnic tables) than the first place you see where there are only a few spots to park.
But do take some time in the old townsite of Halawa where there is an old church with trees now growing in it. great photo ops.
The prettiest part of the drive is through the Ironwood forest, near the end of the road.
Written March 3, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Brent G
3 contributions
Oct 2022 • Couples
Extremely pretty drive but extremely sketchy. I never write reviews but felt this is necessary.

Most of the road was a one way. If someone else was coming I really don’t know what I would have done other than reverse which sounded terrible given the road is on an ocean cliff side and is all twists and turns. If you are the one driving, you don’t get to enjoy the scenery as much as passengers as you are focusing 110% of the drive, one error could leave you and everyone in the car dead.

Really pretty though
Written October 22, 2022
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

wesinsac
Sacramento, CA55 contributions
Mar 2020
We spent the day in Halawa Valley while visiting the beautiful island of Molokai. Due to the COVID 19 Pandemic all private tours were canceled to hike up to the waterfalls which was a bummer. We still enjoyed the day walking in the surf where the river meets the ocean.
Written May 9, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Janet_DFortSmithMT
Sheridan, WY77 contributions
Jan 2020 • Couples
What an excellent way to spend a day! A great history lesson and a lovely hike. Plan to spend the day. The drive is beautiful and a bit harrowing. We did not take lunch and regretted it. Wear good shoes and pack your patience.
Written February 1, 2020
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

John C
Corvallis, OR1 contribution
If you think spending $75 for a short hike is reasonable, then this trip is for you. There are many beautiful waterfalls in Hawaii, but this it the only one that costs you a days wages for you and your friends to visit! This one is not that impressive. I visited the falls a few years ago on my own, but was told this year that this was private property and I could not visit without a guide. Molokai is a wonderful place and I highly recommend you visit this island, but there are many other spectacular sights you can visit on your own for free.
Written January 25, 2008
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

Tim W
Ocoee, Florida366 contributions
My wife and I had but a brief encounter with Hālawa Valley during our trip to Moloka‘i back in January 2000. We had driven the narrow road all the way to Moloka‘i’s far-eastern side and marveled over the lush, verdant valley below us. The valley was surrounded on three sides by steep cliff walls with a slender waterfall seemingly slicing the cliffs in two at the back of the valley. It seemed enticing.

As we descended the valley access road, we pondered what a hike back to those falls would be like. So we pressed on to the end of the road near the mouth of the stream. We hiked around looking for a trail, but found nothing but “No Trespassing” signs. Not wanting to get anyone upset with our unwanted presence, we left.

We had heard about a company leading hikes back into Hālawa Valley, but our short stay on this island was over. So we made a promise to ourselves that we would return in the future for a more thorough exploration. We just did not realize then that it would be almost seven years before finally making that promised trip.

Our plans were prodded along after reading an article in the January/February 2005 issue of Hawai‘i Magazine entitled “A Rebirth in Hālawa”. The article highlighted the efforts of Hālawa Valley native Lawrence Aki, born and raised here until age 9, who is attempting to reclaim the lo‘i (irrigated terraces) from the jungle and replant kalo (taro) as his ancestors did over the last 13 centuries. It is his personal mission to make pono (proper, in perfect order) with the land because, as he says with a spiritual sense, if the kalo dies, so does man, because they are one.

As if his valiant effort in clearing this land of its “weeds” and farming kalo wasn’t enough, he also leads cultural hikes through this beautiful valley to tell tourists the story of his direct ancestors who lived and worked here. Because of that, we just knew our next trip had to include Moloka‘i and a hike here. So the reservations were made.

Our hike’s destination was the waterfall you see when facing into the valley. Much to our surprise, there is another waterfall that is just as large and beautiful and sits to its left, but is unseen from the valley access road because of the protruding cliff wall. As another surprise, we learned that neither of these falls is named Hālawa. Their names are Hipuapua, which is on the right and Mo‘oula, which is on the left. We also learned that the names of the falls are incorrect on some maps.

This hike was a cherished educational experience. However, it almost did not happen.

We were on Kaua‘i for the first week of our vacation. As luck would have it, there was an earthquake the morning of October 15, 2006, which was the day of our island switch. Because the earthquake knocked out all of O‘ahu’s power, our inter-island flight from Kaua‘i to Moloka‘i was delayed going through Honolulu. We were only delayed about an hour getting to Moloka‘i and when we finally got to our rented condo, much to our dismay, it had not yet been cleaned since the previous renter departed. We were unable to reach the owner and had no intention of staying there. So we called Hotel Moloka‘i and, luckily, they had a room. We took it! Unfortunately, we had to pay rack-rate.

We were scheduled to go on the “Hālawa Falls” hike the next morning (our first full day here). But when we called Moloka‘i Fish and Dive to verify our reservation, we were told that the narrow road leading to the valley had been blocked by rock fall. There was also the threat of flashflood, which made it too risky to hike along the river. They canceled it.

I expressed my disappointment and let the man on the phone know how much I had been looking forward to this hike. I told him we only had one more day here to make a try of it and that I really hoped things would work out.

The next day we stopped by their store in downtown Kaunakakai and spoke to the proprietor about the next day’s possibility of the hike. He told me that he had not yet heard from the guide so I would have to call back later. I reiterated how much I was looking forward to going on this particular hike. He apologized and said he would know more after 5pm.

Sure enough, when we called later, it was a go!

At the bottom of the valley access road next to that stone shell-of-a-building, we met our guide. From a distance, he looked familiar. As we drew closer, I immediately knew who he was. I had seen this man’s pictures in Hawai‘i Magazine and saw him in a couple episodes of Samantha Brown’s “Girl Meets Hawai‘i” on the Travel Channel. Our guide was none other than Lawrence Aki.

After the greetings and chit-chat, Lawrence proceeded to tell us a little about Hālawa Valley’s history. This place was still a robust island community less than a century ago, with the majority of the valley filled with lo‘i that were farmed with kalo. Archaeologists say that their findings indicate that it was just this way as far back as 650AD. However, during the 1950’s, the valley was almost completely abandoned.

As Lawrence gave his presentation covering the history of the valley and explained the various pictures that he had setup, one photo stuck out from all the rest. It was a photo dated 1909. Its perspective was from one of the cliffs above us peering into the valley. It revealed the contrast of then and now. It framed a treeless valley being farmed in kalo and dotted with small huts/houses. Today, the valley is completely overgrown with trees reaching 50 to 60 feet high. .

In another photo there was a church sitting prominently in the valley. Lawrence pointed out that the church in that photo was the rocky hulk of a structure next to us. He said the County workers who were clearing and burning brush near it back in the early 1970’s accidentally caught fire to it. Obviously, it burned everything but the stone (see pictures accompanying this review).

Lawrence remarked that it was during the 1950’s when the majority of families left the valley. Because kalo farming is hard work and you are growing food to merely exist, most had sought the higher income and the better life that brings from working the ranches and sugarcane fields on the other side of the island. Of course, he says, this lifestyle change brought its own problems to his culture and left the land in the valley to return to its wild state.

As times got harder for some families, some sold their plots in Hālawa. Many of those were purchased by “nā haole” (the white men) from the mainland. Until that happened, Lawrence had ties to just about all the landowners in the valley through blood and marriage. But now, ownership of the parcels spread like seeds in the wind.

We found out that on top of the various cultural tours that Lawrence escorts around the island, he also runs the Hālawa Valley Cooperative. According to him, the cooperative owns or has operational agreements for most properties in Hālawa Valley. Getting those agreements from so many people, especially “nā haole” from the mainland, was a monumental task. But Lawrence persevered.

He says he does the best he can, but it seems that there is never enough of himself to spread around. From trying to reclaim the lo‘i from the jungle to finding State and Federal grants to keep things working, from convincing locals to not grow illicit plants here to getting family members’ operational help, from operating many different cultural hikes around the island to keeping trespassers off the property. Busy is he – and then some.

All along our hike we learned plenty about both the land and of our guide. We were told the purpose of various archaeological sites we passed and intently listened to stories of Lawrence’s youthful days living here. We learned where he has traveled and of where he now lives. We heard of his trials and tribulations in dealing with the State in proclaiming rights to all the property in the valley (which they finally agreed to). He even related the ancient Hawai‘ian story about how man and kalo were one with the land – if one died, so would the other – at least spiritually (this explains his drive to return kalo cultivation to the valley).

We were honored that we had the chance to listen while he chanted in his native tongue to his ancestors alongside the pool below the falls. Although there is a greater movement by many Hawaiians to learn their native language, of all those in his extended family, he says there are only two of them who are fluent in it. But he is trying to change that, too.

It was not until the end of our hike that we learned the real reason behind us getting to go. You see, since it was just the two of us scheduled to hike, it was not really a high priority to them. After all, we were just two tourists that scheduled a hike for something to do and, because of the access road issues and possible flashflood, it would be easy to cancel. However, it was my expression of real regret and disappointment to the proprietor at Moloka‘i Fish and Dive about the previous canceling, which was passed along to Lawrence, that inspired him to go forth with this hike. Lawrence said it was that disappointment that he could not let pass. We thanked him for being so honorable.

Because it was just my wife and I on this hike with Lawrence, we had more personal attention. We were able to ask many questions and get a lot of information. That inspired a greater respect by us for the Hawai‘i of the past and for people like Lawrence who are trying to re-invigorate their past culture with the Hawai‘ians of today. We can only hope that his success in this endeavor continues.

We had some real headaches on this trip. The earthquake snarled our inter-island flight in Honolulu; we had plenty of rain and flashflood warnings; and we had to make last minute accommodation plans; but it all seemed worth it. Everything had a great ending because we got our full refund for the prepaid condo rental, the rain held off the day of our hike, and, most importantly, we got to go on this hike!

I love it when things work out like that.

Ā hui hou aku!

Keep in mind that if you go to Moloka‘i and want to hike to the falls at the back of the valley, you will be trespassing on private property if you go it alone. The trail that follows the stream and crosses back and forth sits completely on private property. By contacting Lawrence to schedule a hike, you will not only get to legally enter the property, you will have the honor of learning more of the people and history of this beautiful valley. On top of that, the fees paid go to support the Hālawa Valley Cooperative.
Written May 26, 2007
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

spatts
Kalamazoo, MI274 contributions
My wife and I took a guided hike through the privately owned rainforest trail in Halawa valley. Our Hawaiian guide, Lawrence, is articulate and well-educated, eager to share his knowledge of Hawaiian culture, history, and flora. He can trace his lineage 1000 years to the founding of this orginal Hawaiian village, so he really is the guy to guide you. The trail can be strenuous, traversing boulders over rivers, steep inclines, and heavy rainforest undergrowth, but the final destination is worth it - a double waterfall cascading in a cool pool ready for hikers to jump into for a refreshing swim. The hike took from 9am to 2pm, mainly because Lawrence was ready to answer all our questions and allow us time to view the centuries old temple and taro field sites. Allow extra time for the drive to Halawa Valley, as it becomes a one lane, twisting cliff-side route with dramatic views - it took almost 90 minutes to make the trip from the airport. Worth the time and cost!
Written June 21, 2005
This review is the subjective opinion of a Tripadvisor member and not of Tripadvisor LLC. Tripadvisor performs checks on reviews.

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Halawa Valley (Molokai) - All You Need to Know BEFORE You Go

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