"Big Island Hiking" Top 5 Page for this destination Hawaii (State of) Off The Beaten Path Tip by diver-x
Hawaii (State of) Off The Beaten Path: 182 reviews and 261 photos
The only island with active volcanoes is the Big Island of Hawaii. There are plenty of hiking opportunities there, though I've only done single day hikes. My favorites are:
Waipio Valley: I've done 2 separate full-day hikes here. But first off, a warning. Do not drive a car into the valley. One reason is you absolutely need 4WD with a low gear to get in without killing yourself. Another good reason is if you do have the correct vehicle then your rental car company prohibits driving down there. But a better reason is that for whatever reason, some of the folks who live in the valley resent tourists bringing their vehicles in and they throw rocks at parked rental cars, breaking the windows. So leave the car in the parking area at the top of the valley at the look-out point, and walk in (a hike in itself). The first hike I did in Waipio started off at the beach, after hiking in from the lookout at the top. We waded across the river (you can't miss it) and walked the entire length of the brown sand beach. When we were there the first time, there were camp sites on the beach but I'm not sure if they still allow camping there. There's a trail that starts at the other end of the beach that zigs and zags its way up the steep side of the valley. It's called the "Z" trail. Lots of great views but if it's just a day trip, there's no loop so you have to just decide when you want turn around and go back the way you came. The trail goes much farther than we went so I think you could make it a multi day hike though not sure about whether camping is allowed. Hiking your butt back out of the valley is way harder than you think it will be as you're hiking in.
The second hike I did in Waipio headed in the opposite direction to the back of the valley where there is a wonderful waterfall. But you will have to brave chest-high water to get there. As you walk into the valley at the bottom, instead of turning right toward the beach, turn left and walk along the paved road a short distance, maybe 10-15 minutes? Now, another warning here because we just happened to run into some folks who were going to the same waterfall we were and one of them was a local who had been there before. I don't think we would have found the trail head without him. If I recall correctly, it started in a spot near where the road crosses the river. We left the road on the left side, up an embankment with a low stone wall at its crest. We followed the wall until we got to a worn path. The trail is not marked but it rarely strays very far from the river. It crosses the river several times and as mentioned, one crossing will be through chest-high water. You will get wet. The waterfall at the end was not exactly raging when we were there, rather a trickle. But it was a trickle all across the width of it, which gave it the appearance of a veil. It was very cool. And the swimming was good too. For both Waipio hikes, plan to get there mid-morning and plan to drag yourself out at around dusk.
I've hiked twice from the Chain of Craters Road to the lava flow into the ocean. The lava flow moves to different spots all the time, but the second time we did it, it seemed like it was in the exact same spot as the first. It was 2 - 2 1/2 hours one way. This is not a hike to take lightly as there are many dangers. People have died so be very careful. Wear long pants no matter how hot it is. Much of the rock is essentially glass and very sharp. Stay away from the water's edge as the rock has been known to collapse. But it is very cool to see the lava flow even though much of it is hidden a lot of the time. Words can't describe.
If you go to the Big Island, you must get "The Big Island Revealed" guide book. Not only is it the best guide book about the island, in my opinion it is the best guide book ever written about anywhere. It was spot on about everything, from hike suggestions to restaurant reviews. Great book. We did several other hikes recommended in this book, well off the beaten path, including hiking up to the back side of the Pu'u O'o vent - very interesting sight. And another hike into a mile-long lava tube.
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