So you’re planning a trip to see one of the great valleys of the Big Island, aka a trip to Waipio Valley!
IMPORTANT!!! Waipio Valley Road is CLOSED.
As of spring 2022, Waipio Valley Road is CLOSED to non-residents due to a “geotechnical assessment.”
Waipio Valley Road is past the Waipio Valley Lookout.
You do NOT need to drive (or hike) Waipio Valley Road in order to go to the Waipio Valley Lookout.
So you can still go see the famous Waipio Valley views from above even if Waipio Valley Road is closed.
If Waipio Valley Road is closed, then you can’t do anything more than see Waipio Valley from above.
Check for updates before you go.
Below reflects the Waipio Valley experience when Waipio Valley Road is OPEN.
When Waipio Valley Road is open, there are a few ways you can experience Waipio Valley.
You can make Waipio Valley as a trip of less than an hour, or you can choose to spend 2-3 hours in the area. Below will tell you about 3 of the top ways to do Waipio Valley!
Here's some info on Hawaii trip prep!
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Top 3 ways to see Waipio Valley
So first, yes, it’s possible to visit Waipio Valley on your own!
No tour required to see Waipio Valley. (Although those are available!) You can drive to see the Waipio Valley lookout.
And then after that if you’re interested… you can drive to the Waipio Valley beach, or you can hike to the Waipio Valley Beach.
More on each of these below!
The Waipio Valley Loookout is the mandatory visit. If you head to Waipio Valley, you will definitely see this. You can drive to this with a regular car. There is a parking area right near the lookout, and from there it’s a short walk to the lookout for the stunning famous Big Island valley views from above.
If the Waipio Valley parking lot is full, there is parking along the road leading up to the parking lot. Watch out for the “no parking” signs, though.
After you see the lookout, you can decide to move on and head to another part of the Big Island. Or, you can spend a little bit more time here!
2. Drive down to Waipio Valley beach
Another thing that many people do is drive the road located to the left of the lookout. Following this road will take you to see level and the Waipio Valley beach. You will be driving DOWN. This is one of the Big Island drives that a 4wd is REQUIRED. It is a STEEP road. (Some claims that it’s one of the steepest drivable roads in the US!)
3. Hike down to Waipio Valley beach
Then another thing that many people do is to walk the road down, instead of driving down. You will be walking on the same road that the cars drive. This means that again, you will be walking DOWN. This also means that hiking to the Waipio Valley Beach may seem easy, but hiking back UP is where you will probably be breathing quite hard! Also, since you are walking alongside a pretty narrow road, you’ll want to take care not to get in the way of the cars.
Backpacking Waipio Valley
Aside from making it a day trip, there are some people who make it a multi-day trip to Waipio Valley. This is considered to be a difficult backpacking trail, so be sure to look into it further! There has been more than one hiker who went missing while hiking deeper into Waipio Valley…
If you are just hiking down to the beach, it’s a relatively safe experience with nothing particularly noteworthy aside from the steep hill and the cars…
And I guess watch your footing if you are stepping off to the side to let a car pass. Make sure you aren’t about to step off the cliff. Seriously. Not in Hawaii, but I saw the aftermath of someone who had tumbled down a hillside because of stepping off to the side of a hiking trail to let someone pass! (I saw him climbing back up the hill.) That wasn’t as steep, so aside from lots of cuts and bruises he seemed to not have gotten serious injuries. I don’t recall if there are any such spots along the side of the Waipio Valley Road that may put you directly along a steep drop, but in any case, always watch your step when hiking on the Big Island! I think there may be sections like that if you’ll be hiking further along in Waipio Valley.
Cycling Waipio Valley
And then there are also crazy people who want to bike up the steep Waipio Valley Road. 😜 I would guess that this is either a professional cyclist or professional triathlete, or someone training for some sort of road race or triathlon!
What to pack for hiking Waipio Valley
Take WATER and SNACKS! I actually did see someone really struggling on the walk up! See the Hawaii hiking essentials.
You may also appreciate having hiking poles to save your knees on the way down, and to make it feel at least a little bit easier on the way up.
It can be good to always have a gallon jug of water in your car. (You can pick this up from a grocery store or gas station!) Even if you choose to drive down and won’t be physically exerting yourself as much if you were to hike to the Waipio Valley beach, Hawaii is still HOT. It’s a good idea to always have easy access to water!
If you are going down to the beach, bring your water shoes!
If you want to attempt to safely make the water crossing, you’ll probably be happy to have either hiking sandals or water shoes with you! Don’t take this water crossing lightly. Currents can be strong. Be careful! You may be interested in hiking further along a trail past this water crossing and past the beach too.
Also see more of everyday Hawaii essentials aka what to pack for a day out and about in Hawaii no matter what because you never know what you’ll come across!
And that’s a bit about getting to Waipio Valley beach is like from the lookout!
You can also make it a one day Big Island valley beach hike kind of day and make this day on the Big Island a “Waipio Valley + Pololu Valley” kind of day. The drive between these two valley lookouts is around 1.5 hours.
If you’re interested in Waipio Valley, you may also be interested in these great Big Island activities:
- Pololu Valley hike
- One day of hiking to Big Island valley beaches
- Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Akaka Falls loop trail
- Punaluu black sand beach
- Kealakekua Bay hike
- More beach hikes on the Big Island
HAPPY DRIVING OR HIKING TO WAIPIO VALLEY BEACH!
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Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're snorkeling.
Be sure to take a look at the reviews of this amazing tour on the Big Island:
- Kona's most popular tour: Swimming in the ocean at night with manta rays (likely to sell out)