Waipio Valley is without a doubt spectacular. The real beauty of it though is not found until you are almost at the bottom when the waterfall comes into view. You will not see the waterfall from the top. You can get down into valley via horseback, wagon, jeep tours, 4 wheel drive or hiking. For us, it was a financial decision to hike-we decided to put our savings to a manta dive which we couldn't achieve on our own. There is ample parking and a lot attendant who will check to see if you are in a 4 wheel drive vehicle- so don't try to drive down without it- a regular car will never get back up. The hike down is steep on a paved road. Be careful- the edges are sandy and several people took a spill. The views are simply gorgeous. Even if you don't want to do the entire hike- go partway down because the view is better. As you near the bottom- there is a small road to the right (not marked) that leads out to the black sand beach. If you go straight, you will begin to see the waterfall ( a true one- not the little ones in Hilo- the kind you think when you see Jurassic Park). Here we encountered numerous wild horses- one even walked a good distance with us and allowed the kids to stroke him. They enjoy eating the grass on people's lawns. Now at the bottom- you are in a small community so you need to stay in the road. The first obstacle you hit is a stream- not a little hop over the stream, but one where you will need to take your shoes off and wade up to your knees over rocks stream or hop on the bigger rocks and try not to slip in (which no one did successfully). Then you come to a fork in the road and a sign that clearly states that this is the official end of the trail. Now- if you take a guided tour- they have permission to drive on the private land. If you are not with a guided tour- you technically are trespassing and you are at the good will of the people who own the land which guide books emphasize are tempermental more often than not. Guidebooks are also fuzzy on this as well. In order to get to the waterfall bases- you must trespass. So- it becomes a bit of a problem and boils down to personal choice. The hike back up is - well let's just call it the way it is- brutal. The best way to do it is to tackle it at your own pace. Be sure to have plenty of water. It is a pain because you will have to keep moving off the road for the cars. But- it is not insurmountable. Unlike other steep hikes we did in Hawaii, no one offered a ride back up so be sure you are fully ready to go both ways (which of course is the fun!). On your way in or out of Waipio- stop at Tex's Restaurant for the only malasadas that we were able to find and they were great! Bathrooms are at the lookout. There are no snack or water facilities.
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