We spent day 6 of our Big Island road trip driving north of Kailua Kona to visit Waipi’o Valley and Pololū Valley.
- Waipi’o Valley
- Pololū Valley
- Frequently Asked Questions
Waipi’o translates to “curved water” and earns its name from the Wailoa Stream that runs throughout the region. The valley itself is a flourishing, verdant oasis filled with tropical plants, taro fields, and residential farms. It is also an area of great historical and religious significance as the home of past kings and Hawaiian gods. Waipi’o Valley is the largest and most dramatic of the seven windward valleys of the Kohala Volcano.
Waipi’o Valley Lookout
While the road down to the valley floor is closed, you can drive to the lookout. If you’re coming from Kailua Kona, all roads to the valley pass through Waimea.
From the lookout, you will find a magnificent view of the valley floor, black sand beach, and high cliffs curving along the Hawaiian coast.
Is Waipi’o Valley Road Open?
As of September 2022, Waipi’o Valley road has been partially reopened to local residents and tour operators only. The Waipi’o Lookout is open to everyone.
TIME SPENT: 15 minutes
Pololū Valley is another one of the seven valleys along Kohala volcano that’s been sculpted by thousands of years of erosion. Pololū translates to “long spear” in Hawaiian and is named for the many battles that took place in the region. Similar to Waipi’o, you’ll find breathtaking views of tropical forests, zigzagging coastlines, and black sand from the lookout point near the parking lot.
Pololū Valley Beach
You can hike from the lookout down to the black sand beach by following a 0.9-mile out-and-back trail. Although the trail is steep, you can take always take breaks while appreciating the view. Most references to the Pololū Valley trail refer to this trail, which ends where the beach meets the valley floor.
Hike to Honokāne Nui Lookout
If you’re up for an adventure and it’s not rainy, I’d highly recommend going past the beach and hiking to Honokāne Nui Valley lookout. It’s about a 3-mile hike from the beach to the lookout and back. While the trail isn’t difficult, the path can get extremely muddy when it rains so dress accordingly (ideally, hiking shoes and dark clothes that won’t show mudstains).
I didn’t find any signs at the start of the trail. Instead, I referenced this picture from BigIslandHikes that shows a small dirt path that cuts through the grass towards the cliff where the trail “begins.” You’ll know you’ve reached the lookout point when you see the bench that overlooks the Honokāne Nui Valley.
TIME SPENT: 2 hours
After your hike, stop by Fresh Off the Grid for a delicious refreshment.
With plenty of parking, seating, and clean portable bathrooms, Fresh Off the Grid is a great stop to and from Pololū Valley.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is Waipi’o Valley lookout worth it?
If you’re like us, I’d recommend skipping Waipi’o Valley lookout while the road is still closed. We wanted to go to Waipi’o Valley to be enveloped by lush, tropical vegetation and to witness the peaceful way of life of the small community who live there – none of which is possible by visiting just the lookout. Since you can find similar views at Pololu Valley, I’d save Waipi’o Valley for a time when the road has re-opened and it’s safe to hike down to the valley. If you do, please be mindful that you are visiting sacred land.
Waipi’o Valley or Pololū Valley?
Until Waipi’o Valley road re-opens, we prefer Pololū Valley because we were able to hike down to the beach and through the valley. Since the views are spectacular from both lookout points, the difference really is being able to explore the valley.
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