Waipio Valley

#4 in Best Things To Do in Hawaii - The Big Island
Waipio Valley picture1 of 3
Waipio Valley2 of 3
Tor Johnson/Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)

Key Info

At the end of the Hamakua Heritage Corridor drive

Price & Hours

Tour prices vary by company
Tour times vary by company

Details

Hiking, Parks and Gardens, Tours Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.3scorecard
  • 4.0Value
  • 0.0Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

Waipio Valley, translated as "curved water," is named for the river that runs through it, and it's a historically significant spot to the Hawaiian people. Situated along the Hamakua Coast on the island's northeastern side, it was once one of the most fertile valleys on the Big Island and home to an estimated 10,000 people when the navigator captain James Cook first arrived in 1778. It was also home to Kamehameha the Great and many other Hawaiian rulers, earning it the nickname "The Valley of the Kings." 

Now, Waipio Valley is regarded as a modern-day Garden of Eden. One-mile wide, more than 5 miles deep, and encased by verdant cliffs that rise 2,000 feet, the valley is best beheld from an overlook point on its southern side. You can also enjoy Waipio's scenery on a van tour, a strenuous hike (you'll have to make a steep descent into the valley) or by horseback. There are also a couple of black sand beaches, but the murky water isn't suitable for swimming; head to Hapuna Beach State Park or Kaunaoa for calmer, clearer waters. 

Technically, the Waipio Valley is free to enjoy, but most people visit on a tour. The cost varies dependent on the company you choose and the type of excursion, for instance whether you're traveling by Jeep or by helicopter. Keep in mind: If you're not traveling here via an organized tour and don't want to hike, you'll need to rent a four-wheel drive vehicle to access the bottom of the valley (where the black sand beach is located). If you just want to see the lookout, you can access it at the end of the Hamakua Heritage Corridor drive.

See all Hotels in Hawaii - The Big Island »

More Best Things To Do in Hawaii - The Big Island

Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park1 of 13
Akaka Falls State Park2 of 13
Type
Time to Spend
#1 Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park

Four months after closing due to intense and damaging volcanic activity, Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park reopened in mid-September 2018. "The Volcano," as it were, loosely refers to two active volcanoes in Hawai'i Volcanoes National Park; specifically, it's Kilauea that's the real must-see. A 4,000-foot-tall mountain, Kilauea has been spitting, spewing and oozing since Jan. 3, 1983 and in May 2018, it started erupting, forcing evacuations and destroying entire communities. Although the eruptions have stopped, Kilauea is still at the top of America's list of volcanoes to monitor. 

Most people who come to the park hope to see some lava flow; some travelers see a little bit, others are not as lucky. Check in at the Kilauea Visitor Center for up-to-date information on trails, safety precautions and where to expect lava flow. 

Read more
Westend61/Getty Images
See full list of Best Things To Do in Hawaii - The Big Island »

Explore More of Hawaii - The Big Island

When purchasing from our site, we may earn commissions. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended

America's 15 Coolest Ghost Towns to Visit

From Kentucky to California, the U.S. is filled with eerie abandoned cities.

Lyn MettlerAugust 22, 2019

The 7 Best New Orleans Plantation Tours

Learn about the Big Easy's history through one of these daytrips.

Holly JohnsonAugust 21, 2019

22 Top Sonoma Wineries to Visit

Sip world-class wines while enjoying vineyard and mountain views.

Gwen PratesiAugust 19, 2019

30 Beautiful Caribbean Islands to Visit

It's time to plan your next tropical getaway.

Holly JohnsonAugust 8, 2019

The Best Travel Rewards Programs for 2019-20

See which airline and hotel loyalty programs come out on top.

Erin ShieldsAugust 6, 2019

20 Surprising Ways to Earn Loyalty Program Points or Miles

Branch out beyond hotel stays and flights to maximize your earnings.

Christine SmithAugust 6, 2019

The 12 Best Cancun Tours

These excursions will show you what lies beyond the city's bright beaches.

Lyn MettlerJuly 26, 2019

Traveling With Toddlers: 16 Tips to Make Your Vacation Go Smoothly

These expert travel hacks guarantee a happy trip for the whole family.

Kyle McCarthyJuly 25, 2019

The 11 Best New Orleans Ghost Tours

Hear chilling tales of the city's paranormal activity on one of these guided tours.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 25, 2019

The 10 Best Seattle Boat Tours

Take in the Emerald City's top sights from the water.

Kim Foley MacKinnonJuly 24, 2019