Saturday, May 7, 2011

Wet Walk to Big Island's Valley of the Kings

Plan on getting your feet moist on a trek to Waipio Valley, on the lush north shore of the Big Island. King Kamehameha surfed here as a boy, continuing the valley's tradition as a home to the ali'i (royalty).

Highway 19 comes to an end at the Waipio Valley Lookout, and no roads encircle the Kohala section of the island, which is actually a separate volcano about a million years older than other portions of the island. A four-wheel drive road drops about 500 feet down to the valley, a descent hikers can make in about 20 minutes. From the bottom, head to the beach and cross the wide stream to begin the Muliwai Trail—an up-and-down rugged route similar to Kauai's Kalalau Trail, except this version sees far fewer hikers. Another option from the bottom is to head up Waipio Valley, where waterfalls irrigate taro fields that are tended today much as they have been for centuries. This trail is often hidden by a stream, but it's easy going once you find it. Hawaii the Big Island Trailblazer has the deets, beginning on page 31.