Hawaii – Waipio Valley, a Magical, Royal Place

Waipio Valley is called the Land of the Curving Water. It is one of the scenic wonders of the big island of Hawaii. This valley is chock full of meandering rivers that flow between taro patches until they flow into the breathtaking surf of the ocean. You can witness the magnificent waterfalls cascading thousands of feet down to the valley below. Waipio Valley is six miles across, sitting between 2,000 foot high cliffs.

History states that this valley once housed the ancient kings of Hawaii. Kamehameha the Great was given custody of Kukailimoku, the war god of the kings of Hawaii. Hawaiian royalty also used Waipio Valley as a retreat. For this reason this magical place was given the nickname, “The Valley of the Kings”.

Some say that as many as 30,000 people lived here at one time but it’s hard to imagine that today. A few residents continue to operate taro farms in the valley. Wild horses roam freely amongst the rivers filled with fresh water, lotus ponds, fruit trees and sandy beaches.

Waipio Valley is similar to a tropical Grand Canyon. The highest free falling waterfall in the world is in Waipio. The beautiful black sandy beach has varying ocean conditions. Be respectful of the water when you are swimming, bodysurfing, or boogie boarding. Many people enjoy playing in the river also. You will notice four-wheel drive tours, mule-drawn wagon rides and horseback rides are given by the nearby travel agency in Honokaa.

During our last and only visit to Waipio Valley, we stayed at the tiny lodge owned and operated by Mr. Tom Araki. The lodge is a converted schoolhouse that has five rooms, a shared bath and two kitchens. There is no electricity, no refrigeration and the water is always cold. Mr. Araki was kind enough to share the bathroom in his home which had hot water. The lodge is surrounded by taro patches, forest and beautiful blue sky. Two old dogs share the lodge. They have the good life. They are fed well by Mr. Araki and his constant stream of visitors but they have the privilege of exploring their valley when they desire. We were told that sometimes these dogs are gone for days but they always return, happy with the memories of their adventures and ready to be fed and warmed by the fire. Mosquito coils are lit at dusk. And at this time every day, we would settle into our routine of sitting on the porch with Mr. Araki, drinking sake and talking about the good old days.

Mr. Araki’s parents arrived at the Big Island from Japan in 1907 to work for the sugar plantation. Tom was born in 1909. He lived most of his life in Hilo then moved to Waipio Valley when he inherited the land from his father. The Araki’s own three patches of taro. Taro root is used to make poi, the famous staple of the Hawaiian diet.

We often walked around the valley during the day. It was a maze of muddy roads and meandering streams. Sometimes we would find sweet fruit still on the trees. Mango, breadfruit, grapefruit, papaya, avocado, oranges, persimmon, melons and berries can all be found growing wild. This seemed to be the ideal place to grow up. Perhaps we should add another nickname to this wonderful valley, “A Kid’s Paradise”.

We have many More Hawaii Vacation Information, Travel Review and Attractions Articles Now Available.