Ireland day 0982. Thursday 06 June 2024- Big Island 5

Ireland day 0982. Thursday 06 June 2024- Big Island 5
Today’s summary Drove up to the north of the island to take a 4×4 minibus trip down into the Waipio valley. Spectacular. After lunch, had a look round the highlands near Waimea then drove to the ʻAnaehoʻomalu Beach near the Lava Lava club for a swim. Dinner at Rebel Kitchen in Kealakekua the evening.
Today’s weather Mixed depending on where on the island we were. Generally overcast and damp in the north and east, sunny and dry in the south and west. Light westerly wind Appx 28c.
Today’s overview location
(The green mark shows the location of our route)
Close-up location
(The orange line shows where we drove)
(Click button below to download GPX of today’s walk as recorded, or see interactive map at bottom with elevations corrected):
Waipio Valley 4x4 drive

(Summary blog only.   Last full blog was Day 0368).

There are lots of fascinating places to visit on Hawaii Big Island – and we have seen many of them. But there was one major gap in our visit programme still remaining – the Waipio Valley.

This is a deep, lush, and relatively unspoiled valley in the north east of the island – nearly two hours drive away from here. Because it’s quite inaccessible, it tends to be less visited than some of the other headline sights. Until recently there was a steep public road that you could hike or drive 4x4s down to explore the valley floor. But in February last year it was decided to close the road to casual visitors, as it was becoming over used. This was resulting in road damage and over tourism of the valley itself.

So now if you want to visit the valley bottom you have to take an “official” 4×4 minibus trip starting at the top near the Waipio Lookout, which is what we did today.

Although I think we would probably have preferred to walk down, the trip was excellent and we both felt that the efforts to reduce the number of visitors had been worthwhile (especially considering the negative impact of the 4x4s on Green Sands beach).   Perhaps it would actually be a good idea if the road wasn’t reopened to the public again

From the valley floor you get excellent views of the surrounding mountains and of the giant 400m / 1200ft waterfall at the valley head. It’s very fertile down there and it’s not difficult to see why the various kings of Hawaii took up residence there.

At only two hours, the trip was all too short and we were up at the top again by 1pm. But that gave us time for a relaxed lunch and coffee on the lanai of a local art gallery and then plenty of time to do some more exploring in the afternoon.

So once we had finished dining, we set off back up to Waimea, a smart town which sits high on the grasslands between the Mauna Kea and Kohala volcanoes. It’s surrounded by vivid green hills and – apart from the 26c temperature – looks and feels for all the world like Ireland. We paused to take a quick look at the environs then headed off once more, this time in search of a beach.

We ended up in ʻAnaehoʻomalu – a popular spot in the middle of a resort complex (best known for the Lava Lava Club). Despite being relatively busy, there was plenty of space on the beach and we enjoyed a fabulously relaxing half hour swimming in the Pacific.

Finally, en route back to Captain Cook and our guesthouse, we dropped into Rebel Kitchen in Kealakekua for a jambalaya and burger dinner.

Yet another very memorable day!

Today’s photos (click to enlarge)

Our transport – a specially modified 4×4 made in Utah – down into the Waipio Valley Mustangs – there are over 100 of them living wild in the valley bottom and I must say they look extremely healthy
Cocoa pods being harvested from a roadside tree.   The cocoa beans (which have to be fermented and dried in order to turn them into chocolate) are surrounded by a sweet edible pulp.   It tasted a bit like mango Up in the verdant highlands near Waimea.   An amazing place – it could so easily be Ireland!  (apart from the temperature, which is about 20c higher)
Val enjoying a Pacific moment In the Rebel Kitchen café
Classic view north into the valley from the Waipio Lookout at the start of the drive down
Interactive map

(Elevations corrected at  GPS Visualizer: Assign DEM elevation data to coordinates )

Total distance: 9300 m
Max elevation: 277 m
Min elevation: 6 m
Total climbing: 509 m
Total descent: -509 m
Total time: 01:34:50
Download file: Waipio-valley-4x4-drive-compressed-corrected.gpx

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