At the end of the highway on the northwest tip of the Big Island, Pololu Valley is the start of activities that range from a Kodak moment at the parking lot to a full-on, wild-and-wooly trek into some of the wildest country that can be reached in Hawaii.
The trail starts out along the backshore of Polulu Beach, at the foot of a large dune now grown over with trees and groundcover. It then climbs seriously on a route that dips into and out of a series of rugged valleys on a 20-mile run to Waipio Valley, which is the end of the highway on the northeast tip of the island. The first two valleys, Honokane Nui and Honokane Iki, can be reached by prepared dayhikers (7.5 miles round trip, with 2,200 feet of elevation). But the rest of the trail is basically terra incognita.
The cliffs beyond Pololu Beach can be seen from the scenic turnout at the trailhead.
Though surfers can carry boards down to ride an offshore break, Pololu is not know for waterplay. Active families will have no trouble with the trail down, a wide switchback that drops about 400 feet over the course of a half mile. The green valley with a large pond is a tranquil sidetrip at the bottom of the trail. Complete directions in your Hawaii Big Island Trailblazer guide.