Located along the Big Island’s scenic Hamakua Coast, Waipio Valley is the southernmost and largest of seven large valleys on the windward side of the Big Island’s Kohala Mountains. Waipio was home to Hawaiian royalty in ancient times and today the secluded beach is a great place to relax. Cliffs rise thousands of feet from each side of the narrow valley which is about one mile wide and six miles deep. A small stream flows into the ocean providing a place for kids to play when the surf and currents make the ocean dangerous. The narrow, steep road down into the valley requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle, but if you love walking you can park at the top near the lookout and walk down the road into the valley.
Relaxing, whale watching, swimming (when the surf is calm).
During the winter months when humpback whales are in Hawaiian waters this is a nice whale watching spot as the huge mammals often pass by offshore. This area also provides spectacular waterfall viewing. East of the beach are Kaluahine Falls and Waiulili Falls, and left (west) of the paved road brings you within view of 1,400-foot Hiilawe Falls, Hawaii’s highest. On days when the waves are breaking Waipio is a popular surfing area among the locals though beginners should find a safer beach.
Need to Know
Only four-wheel-drive vehicles can drive down into Waipio Valley. At Waipio Beach, strong rip currents may flow out to sea so swimmers use to need extreme caution and avoid swimming unless the surf is very calm. Also, stay close to shore if you do go swimming. Swimming during the winter months is not recommended as strong waves break along this coastline.
From Hilo take Route 19 north and turn right onto Route 240 to Waipio Valley. You will pass through the town Honokaa along the Hamakua Coast. To get down into the valley we recommend a four-wheel-drive vehicle.