One of the highest (1,500+ feet/460 meters) waterfalls in all of the State of Hawai`i goes unseen by most visitors. Hi‘ilawe (hee-ee-lah-vey) Falls is in the Waipi‘o (why-pee-oh) Valley which is on the north shore of the Big Island. Why do so few people see it? You either need to have rented a 4WD SUV so that you can drive down into the valley or you will need to hike down the valley access road, which has a 25% grade. You can see the road in the panorama picture (Go here for a fullsize view of the panorama) in the second segment with its severe incline/decline. The falls are not viewable from the Lookout which is at the top left where the road starts downward in this photo.
If you're hiking, going down isn't so bad. It's hiking back up that is the tough part. On our last trip while we were driving back to the top, we encountered an older couple trying to hike it back to the top. We stopped and offered a ride. They were grateful since they were having to stop every few meters to catch their breath. They said it looked much easier than it was.
If you're driving, going down IS the hard part. You must have the low gears of a 4WD to make it down this grade. We locked the transfer case of our rented Jeep into 4-wheel-low and just idled all the way down without the brakes. DO NOT try it in ANY 2-wheel-drive vehicle! Look in my Warnings or Dangers section for a picture of a car that didn't heed this warning.
This picture is four separate photos I pieced together (the best I could do). This is THE most beautiful place on the Big Island! And well worth the trip (even on a cloudy day like in the picture).
If you do not want the expense of renting a 4WD vehicle -OR- are physically challenged for the arduous return hike, try this company. We have never used them so I cannot vouch for them but they are your only other option. They will take you down into the valley with a 4WD van for an up-close encounter.
If you are like us and thought Waipi`o Valley was the most beautiful spot on the Big Island as viewed from down on the valley floor, just wait until you see it from the top of Hi`ilawe Falls.
Here we are near the ridgeline with Waipi`o Valley and Hi`ilawe Falls in the background. We used Waipi`o Ridge Stables for the ride. We loved it! See my travel logue below for more photos and details.
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Oh this woman was awsome! She lives in the bottom of Waipio and hike every day up to the View Point to meet people. And she is VERY intelligent!!!
It was for the 1st time I was seeing a fortune-teller and she told me nothing but good things :)
In normal she charges $1/minute but I know a good friend of hers so we made a good deal - $25/hour.