Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Hawai'i: Waipio Valley

Jon and I just got back from 2 weeks in Hawai'i. We did so many things and I have so much to share that I'm going to break it all up into multiple posts. This one is dedicated to Waipio Valley. Waipio Valley, also know as the Valley of the Kings, is located near Waimea on the Big Island of Hawai'i. Waipio means curved water. It has a beautiful curved coastline and curving rivers.
It had been raining quite a bit before we arrived so the rivers a waterfalls were all visible. The roads were also pretty flooded. We decided to do a guided tour in a 4x4 vehicle. It was a great decision. The road down is narrow and a 25% grade hill. It was intense even in the 4x4. Also, our car was too low to the ground to make it through all the water you have to drive through.
People do live in the valley but it is very limited in terms of resources. Only about 5 houses down there have electricity, they rest live off generators and candles. There is no plumbing either so they all need to collect their own water. Most of the residences are Hawaiian natives. Our guide, Douglas, was a Hawaiian native and his family has property in the valley (we encountered his cousin on the drive). Douglas was really great a sharing stories about the valley, ancient medicinal uses for the plants, teaching us some Hawaiian, telling us about taro farming (which is what the valley is mainly used for) and giving us some Hawaiian recipes.
I loved all the vegetation. It was really very lush in the valley. The whole valley has been carved out of volcanic rock by water. There are tons of banyan trees. Nothing says tropic rainforest like some banyan tree.
This is one of the rivers we had to cross but you can see all the banyan trees in the background. This river was so heavy they day before that a big Ford truck tipped over trying to cross it. It rains a lot in the valley. It started to rain just as we were leaving.
The valley was stunning, I'm struggling to find words to describe how wonderful the experience was. If you ever go, go in a 4x4 vehicle because the grueling hike just takes away from all there is to enjoy.

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