Nestled at the base remote of Waipi‘o Valley on the Hāmākua Coast, the beautiful black sands, 2,000-foot cliffs, tropical rainforest, and cascading waterfalls of Waipi‘o Beach, make this a destination worth visiting. Ancient Hawaiian temple sites dot the sparsely populated valley floor, and several hiking trails lead to waterfall pools.
Waipi‘o is steeped in powerful spiritual energy and was the residence of early Hawaiian ali‘i (royals). Known as “The Valley of the Kings,” as many as 10,000 people may have resided in Waipi‘o Valley prior to Captain Cook’s arrival. Waipi‘o was celebrated for its sacred nīoi (Eugenia reinwardtiana) trees; in the 18th century King Kahekili II raided Waipi‘o, burning the nīoi trees and the royal grass palace to the ground. In the 1800s, many Chinese immigrant families settled in Waipi‘o Valley, and the village had churches, restaurants, a school, and a post office. In 1946, a devastating tsunami swept the valley. Waipi‘o has been a sleepy taro farming community ever since.
Waipi‘o Valley Beach Facilities
Waipi‘o is difficult to access without a 4-wheel-drive, therefore it’s best to walk. Bring drinking water as the mile-long road into Waipi‘o is very steep and there is little shade. There are no comfort facilities at Waipi‘o, though locals will sell cold drinks or food out of coolers. Much of the valley is private property, so please stay on well-marked trails.
Waipi‘o Valley Beach Swimming Conditions
The ocean at Waipi‘o may look inviting, but there are dangerous rip currents. Ocean swimming at Waipi‘o is not recommended.
How to Get There
From Kona or Hilo, take Highway 19 to Honoka‘a. Turn off at Highway 240, and go 9.5 miles to the end of the road. Park at Waipi‘o Valley lookout then hike one mile down the steep dirt road to the valley floor. This is one of the best beaches on Hawai’i’s Big Island for those who like hiking and waterfalls, but for your safety please stay out of the ocean water.