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Published: August 4th 2013
I found a painting of a beautiful waterfall, and the Gallery Owner toldme that it was Hi’ilawe Falls!
Hi’ilawe Stream empties into the Pacific Ocean right in Waipio Valley.
Waipio Valley is, in my opinion, THE most picturesque place on the entire Island!
You can see the most Amazing VIEW right from the top at the Overlook Point…which is the easiest option…
The steep cliffs are about 2000 feet (610 meters) above the Valley floor, so going IN to the Valley is complicated!
You can either:
1) drive in – which is the scariest option! You are not allowed to take in a rental vehicle, and the vehicle must be a 4 wheel drive with low low low gear.
On your way down the hill, you must yield to upcoming traffic – if they have to shift, they can possibly roll off the cliff. When you look over the edge of the cliff into the trees, you will see carcasses of vehicles that didn’t quite make it. Also, don’t wear your seatbelt, in case you have to jump out!
When the road in is classified as “a road”, it is the steepest road
of it’s length in the United States, and maybe even then entire world (says Wikipedia),
gaining “800 vertical feet (243.84 m) in 0.6 miles (0.9 km) at a 25%!a(MISSING)verage grade”.
2) take a tour, which will take you in by van, recreational vehicle, or donkey
3) make friends with a Local, who knows how to drive in AND/OR who is ok with abandoning their vehicle
4) hike – which isn’t as easy as it seems. It’s so steep, it’s recommended that if you do hike in, you leave enough recuperation time before you climb back out…
We went in by “Local”. My brother, who had been down into the Valley at least once, and who didn’t mind abandoning his vehicle – in fact, seemed like that’d be part of the great adventure!
We arrived safely at the bottom of the Valley right where Hi’ilawe Stream empties into the Pacific Ocean, after meandering through the Valley, towards the Black Sand Beach at it’s mouth. (On the way out, we were propped up in the bed of his little pick-up truck, and it’s seriously so steep, I was practically standing against the tailgate to keep fromsliding out!
For us, that’s the only option. There’s no way I’m hiking in.)
There, we were surrounded by gigantic trees, with “wild” horses grazing here and there - I say “wild” because I don’t think they are owned by anyone, but they have perfect manes, so I can’t be sure. (I was TOLD they were wild, though.)
Waipio Valley is called “The Valley of the Kings” and was the home to King Kamehameha I and other royalty once upon a time.
So, remember we wanted to find Hi’ilawe Falls, and didn’t realize there was a path, so we decided the best option was to go straight up the Hi’ilawe Stream. (This was a good idea in theory, and worked out well – but some of the Locals were keeping an eye on us to make sure we were safe (we didn’t realize this until we were safely out of the canyon) because of flash-flood warnings…)
Anyway, for the most part, we were in the Stream and once in awhile, when it was too deep or the rocks were too big to climb over, we hiked right beside the River, through giant blades of grass (could be Ginger
or something besides Grass, but I liked feeling like I was a tiny person in the Land of Giants), and over fairy-tale-like pink carpeting (which I’ve since learned was, I think, Mountain Apple (Hawaiian name is possibly ”Ohia’ai”).
It was a beautiful hike!
Hi’ilawe Falls was impressive – it’s such a tall waterfall, it makes white capped waves when it hits it’s pool. It’s two tiered and (apparently-reports vary) the first tier is in the 200 foot range, and the main tier drops 1400 feet!! (Some reports say 1400 in total, and some say it’s 1600 in total… doesn’t seem like that should be that difficult to confirm…)
There’s a second (“twin”) waterfall called “Hakalaoa”, which dries up on occasion, but yay! for us! we got to see THREE waterfalls that day!
Either way, it’s REALLY magnificent!
Next week, hopefully, back to Hilo
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