The Waipio Valley is a stunning area on the northeast coast that was considered a holy place by Polynesians. Legend has it that there is an entrance to the underworld in the area. The steep road into the valley requires a four-wheel-drive vehicle, but when you reach the bottom, it will seem more like heaven than Hades: It's amazingly lovely and verdant, with fruit trees, fish ponds, wild pigs, waterfalls and a black-sand beach fronting the ocean. There are horseback and wagon tours as well as hiking.
What you won't find in the valley are developed resort facilities, and that's the area's foremost attribute. There are a few nonluxury lodging possibilities, however, and an overnight stay will allow you to take in the valley's beauty at a more relaxed pace. There are measures in place to keep Waipio from being overrun by tourists (for example, it is closed to commercial tours on Sunday).
The Waipio Valley Shuttle in Kukuihaele provides transportation and tours (phone 808-775-7121). Or you can take a mule-drawn ride with Waipio Valley Wagon Tours. Phone 808-775-9518. http://www.waipiovalleywagontours.com.
The Waipio Valley is 50 mi/80 km northwest of Hilo.
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