• Activities:

    Chillin, Photography, Swimming, Hiking

  • Skill Level:

    Intermediate

  • Season:

    Year Round

  • Trail Type:

    Out-and-Back

  • RT Distance:

    3 Miles

Bathrooms
Beach
Easy Parking
River
Scenic
Waterfall

Waipi'o Valley is about one mile across, over five-miles deep, and surrounded by cliffs up to 2000-feet high. The Valley was once home to thousands of Native Hawaiians. The Big Island's tallest waterfall, Hiilawe Falls cascades down approximately 1,300 feet down at the back of Waipio Valley. You can view the valley from the coastal Waipi'o Valley Overlook at the end of the Hamakua Heritage Corridor drive, or you can hike down into the valley to experience the true beauty of this stunning location.

From the parking area, walk down the narrow, crazy steep four-wheel drive road for 0.75 mile until the road levels. A few 4WD vehicles, either foolhardy (tourist) or knowledgable (local) may be inching up and down. Head to the right toward the beach for 0.45 mile and arrive on the black sand beach. This is the beginning of the Muliwai Trail. To visit Kaluahine Falls, which are located below the parking area and not visible from above, walk east along the coastal boulders for 0.42 mile. This section of the shore can be very dangerous if the tide is high, so use common sense! The intensity of the falls varies greatly with the weather. Return to the black sand beach.

The best view of Hi’ilawe Falls (if they are running) and of the entire valley is from the Muliwai trail, about halfway up the sea cliffs on the other side of Waipi’o Valley. You can see the Muliwai trail zigzagging up the opposite side of the valley from the lookout and the beach!

You can also walk along the road back into Waipi’o Valley to explore. The area is absolutely beautiful and with some difficulty you can hike all the way back to Hi'ilawe Falls. However, property rights are complicated and often disputed in Waipi'o Valley, so if you try and make the trek along one of the small footpaths through the forest along the river to the falls, make sure to respect the locals and their private property.

Pack List

  • Sturdy shoes
  • Water
  • Snacks
  • Hat
  • Sunscreen
  • Rain gear
  • Bathing Suit
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Please respect the places you find on The Outbound.

Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph. Learn More

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Reviews

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My family and I toured this valley with some van tour in the area, I think the company’s name was Artwork? Anyways, this tour was AMAZING. So fun. It was only $59 per person. Which seems a lot but it’s a drop in the bucket when compared to the rest of the tour options which where $178 per person or more. Our tour guide was so friendly and knowledgeable and he took his time, it took about 2 and a half hours in total, all in all it was just a great time. We got to try fruits from the valley and get some great photos. Highly recommend.

about 1 month ago
about 1 month ago

Stayed right near the park and walked in down the access road. The river crossing was aided by a boat that took us across so we could hike the z up to the top. Steep narrow trail but such good views of all the falls and the beach! Hiked the trail past two falls and back. River crossing on the way back we went through the rocks but saw other people just walk through higher up using sticks to feel out the depth which looked like a better bet. Very worth it but don't drive down just walk!

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

didn't know about the falls underneath the lookout. thanks for that! and my friends and I wanted to hike to the back of the waterfalls but we were scared of getting in trouble because it was private property. Usually we would do it if it was our island (Oahu) but were a bit sketched out since we weren't familiar with big island yet. Especially if we were going to get yelled at by locals or not.

about 1 year ago
about 1 year ago

If you don't have a 4 wheel drive vehicle they will make you prk at the top and walk down. Which is a pretty intense hike, especially on the way back up. But its got great views at the bottom and is totally worth the time.

almost 2 years ago
almost 2 years ago

this place is pretty amazing. be respectful of permanent residents but check out their taro farming setup. also keep an eye out for wild horses - they're very docile and safe. if you're lucky, there will be a car heading up the road on the way out - stick your thumb out or plan on a long uphill trek.

over 2 years ago
over 2 years ago

Jessica Dales

Seattle based adventurer. Taking pictures as I go.

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