Waipio Valley, a hiking primer
Last night, a friend informed that there was "another" Waipio thread on a forum that I once frequented. Having lived through a number of Waipio battles, I enjoyed not being a participant in that one but I was sadden that some thing never change. For the record, I have hiked Waipio more times than my knees care to remember. I’ve probably hiked the valley six or seven times. So I have been there, done that.
The question is always simple and innocent: "should I hike into Waipio?" The responses generally divide into two camps, residents of the islands saying NO or only go in an organized commercial group. The opposition which is usually tourists and an occasional resident who say yes.
So what so special about Waipio Valley? Well, it is a spectacular place. It is historically important to the Island of Hawaii. Some say it is the birthplace of King Kamehameha. At one time the valley boasted a population of 20,000 and was a major food producing area for the island. It is a breathtaking valley with numerous waterfalls, a river running through it and a pretty salt and pepper beach. It is a photographer dream and there is a feel of history once you step on the Valley floor like few other places in Hawaii. It is virtually unchanged. There are no resorts and no millionaire palaces abutting the beach. It’s simple and pure.
The opposition generally uses a combination of fact and fiction to create an impression that Waipio is a scary place. I read statements that Waipioans hate tourist because they trespass. Some opine that tourist trespass merely by going into the valley. Some say that tourist knock of doors of houses and this annoys the residents. There has been discussions about tourist going off the road to waterfalls which is a trespass. There are horror stories like tourists doing donuts in a taro field which, of course, causes animosity. The problem with many of these stories is there is never any collaboration or documented facts.
I can’t deny that at some point in time a tourist did trespass. What I find hard to believe is that any tourist would be so stupid to enter property and knock on a door where the property has a sign, “No Trespassing, violator will be shot“. These signs are everywhere. I guess we tourists are a pretty stupid bunch.
So what the truth about Waipio. Here’s my take.
1. Trespassing. Contrary to what some say, the road into Waipio is public. The road to the beach (turn right at the valley floor junction) is public. The beaches in Hawaii are always public. The Z trail on the opposite side of the valley is the Muliwai Trail and it is a public trail. The road paralleling the beach is public access. So there is no trespassing if you hike to the beach or to the Z trail. BTW the road into the Valley is extremely steep. One cannot drive down the road without a four-wheel drive and I know of no rental car company that allows its vehicle into the valley. This is one ugly drive. I would not recommend attempting this drive.
As a corollary, I personally would not go up valley. At some point the road become private and there is no reason to annoy the locals. It goes without saying that I would never approach a house.
2. “The locals hate us“. Do the Waipioan hate tourist? I think it can be summed up by Greta Garbo’s great line “ I want to be left alone”. The Waipioans are there because this is where their families have been for centuries or they have come here in search of a simpler life. If that sounds like the hippies of the sixties there is truth to that analogy. They are happy to live their life without you. They will ignore you and you should ignore them. I talked to many and have found them to be wonderful people but even then, there is a reservation. These are not mean or violent people; they are living a different lifestyle and would prefer that you not engage them. You really have little in common.
Anybody who has spent time in the islands know that there are people who resent mainlanders. I have been rebuked and given the eye on every island. There are people who will dislike tourist because of history, poverty, ignorance or perceived injustice. I believe there must be a few Waipioans with this attitude, but I never felt resentment.
So should you go into Waipio unescorted? If you can hike 900 ft down in 1.25 miles and then walk back up, why not? This is a place few see up close an personal. If you can’t hike it, well then, join some commercial tour. Just realize this is a special place in the world and in Hawaii. It is different. Respect is a import concept in the islands.Related to:
- Hiking and Walking
Holualoa Ukulele Gallery
Don't expect a huge museum, but the Holualoa Ukulele Gallery is a fun little one-room exhibit of ukuleles, located in the hills above Kona in a little "village" called Holualoa. The ukes are for sale but the owner (Sam) seems more interested in having the instruments appreciated than sold. Modern, traditional, you name it--even one classic made from a cigar box (with great sound). One warning, there is not (at the time of this posting) a website for the gallery, and there are a lot of misleading local rags that give false addresses. It's in Kona, and I recommend calling, since two of our three caravan parties got hopelessly lost looking for it. It's also not well marked, but you should be on the lookout for an old Post Office building.Related to:
- Arts and Culture
- Museum Visits
- Family Travel
Pu-ukohola heiau National Historic Site / Kohala
Pu'ukohola Heiau National Historic Site is located right off to the side of the infamous Outrigger Hotel. It is a National Register historic site that preserves the ruins of one of Hawaii's most major native temples. The temple existed from the time that Kamehameha I took control of northern and western Hawaii in 1782 and was attacked by his cousin Keoua Kuahu'ula who controlled the eastern side of the island. Eight years of fighting through to 1790, this temple was built to gain the favor of the war god Kuka'ilimoku in order to assist in the conflicts. The temples name means "Temple on the Hill of the Whale" because it was built on an older 1580 temple, by hand, with no mortar, in less than a year. Red stones were professed to be transported by a human chain about 14 miles long from the Pololu Valley in the East. The ship "Fair American" was captured in 1790 with a surviving crew member named Isaac Davis after the incident at Olowalu, who became military advisors to King Kamehameha teaching his army the use of muskets and mounted cannons giving defeat to the invaders. The temple was finished in the summer of 1791 measuring 224 x 100 feet. The battle took place in 1791 when the temple was finished and Kamehameha summoned his cousin Keoua Kuahu-ula for a peace treaty which resulted in a surrender after losses in the Battle of Hilo and the volcanic eruptions that destroyed many troops. His soldiers were sacrificed to the temple. Today the site is blocked off as there is believede to still be bones buried at the site. Just offshore from the temple is Hale o Kapuni, an underwater structure dedicated to sharks. There is a visitor center on site, as well as an interpretive trail, even though entering the temple itself is not permitted. About 170 feet west of the temple are the ruins of the earlier Mailekini Heiau which was later converted by John Young into a fort to protect the harbor. The site became a National Historic Landmark on October 15, 1966.Related to:
- Historical Travel
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