Waipio Valley Rim Hike with Hawaiian Walkways

Waipio Valley

About a year ago, I ran across a Coastal Living Magazine article about this great hike around Waipio Valley. I was intrigued by the sounds of this hike. When I was on the Big Island recently, I had to check out the hike for myself. So, what did I think of the guided hike? It was fantastic!

Now, I’m not normally one to pay for a hike, so I did search for free alternatives for hiking the Waipio rim. Though there are some websites that erroneously say you can hike the valley rim from White Road, the land owner has cut off access to that hike. The only way you can hike around the Waipio Valley rim without trespassing and getting lost is with Hawaiian Walkways. (They pay a “big fee” for a permit to hike on private land.)

After meeting at the Hawaiian Walkways office in quaint Honokaa town, we hopped onto a van for about a 20 minute ride through woods and unpaved and gated roads to the beginning of our 3.5 mile loop hike. These tours are scheduled in the mornings when the weather is more likely to be clear.

We walked through a Eucalyptus tree forest on our way to the first glimpses of the stunning Waipio Valley. Though the views of the one mile wide valley Waterfallare impressive from the overlook off Hwy 240, the views along the hike offered a much different perspective that highlighted the six-mile depth and peace of the valley.

We skirted along a narrow path past more views of the valley, streams, foot bridges, waterfalls, wild ginger, hapuu ferns, and guava forests. We even got to pick a lemon guava off the tree and taste it. We also got to take a dip in a refreshing natural waterfall pool. By the way the word refreshing can also be defined as as freezing cold. 🙂 The water was very cold, but I’m glad I braved it for this very unique experience! If you are looking for an idyllic rainforest hike with unbelievable views, then this hike is the one! (See all our photos from this hike.)


Tish (photo on the right) was our tour guide and she was very knowledgeable about the lush flora that grows around the Waipio Valley. We really learned so much about the cultural and practical significance of many plants and trees. Tish also taught us quite a bit of history and legends of the valley. We even learned stories about the Night Marchers (ghosts) of the Waipio valley.

The Hike Logistics

This moderately strenuous hike is more technical than physical. Hawaiian Walkways provides guava wood walking sticks, so that helps you to maintain your balance in some of the tricky parts. I would advise that you wear hiking shoes or hiking sandals for best stability

In addition to the walking sticks, Hawaiian Walkways provided:

  • Water
  • Snack
  • Lunch (We stopped for lunch at a waterfall.)
  • Cold drinks
  • Lightweight backpacks to carry your lunch, water, and beach towel, etc.
  • Rain gear

You should bring:

  • Swimsuit – either wear your swimsuit or bring one with you. An outdoor “dressing room” is available to change into your swimsuit if you bring it.
  • Towel for drying off after your dip in the waterfall pool.
  • We brought our own mosquito repellent, though Tish did have some we could use. I’d recommend you be proactive and apply mosquito repellant before you get far into the hike.
  • If you don’t have waterproof hiking shoes/sandals, then bring some reef shoes. The rocks around the waterfall area can feel pretty sharp on bare feet.
  • Sunscreen
  • Hat

The hike cost $95 plus tax per person. They take a maximum of 10 people on the hike. The hike is recommended for ages eight and up. For more information on booking this hike see the Hawaiian Walkways website.

Plan on 4.5 hours for the hike, lunch, swim. Also be sure to tack on your travel time too and from Honoka’a. We were told to allow one hour travel time from Waikoloa, though it actually took a little less time.

Can’t take the hike, but would love to enjoy some of the views? We took this brief video just for you!

For reference, we also considered the Hawaii Forest and Trail waterfall hike. The reasons we went with Hawaiian Walkways is that it’s the only hiking tour that provides views of the Waipio Valley from the valley rim and it was less expensive.

Have you hiked into or around the Waipio Valley? What was your experience?

  1. Hi Sheila,
    I was waiting for you to post about your hike! I have hiked around the rim of Waipio Valley many times entering from White road. I am so sorry to hear that it is now closed. It was one of my most favorite hikes where you hiked next to the Hamakua ditch and saw the beautiful stone work done by the Japanese plantation contract workers over a century ago, hiked through fields of fragrant ginger and a tall green bamboo forest are some of the high lights. I hope they open up this free hike again.

  2. Aloha HVG – I’d love for that other hike to open up! Part of the path we walked on was laid in stone by the Japanese plantation workers. We also saw some large trees that they brought over and planted along the path to help them find it.

  3. We just took this hike on aug 18. we LOVED it! paul our guide with hawaiian walkways was so nice and infomative about the surroundings and old hawaii customs etc. this, to me, was the highlight of our time on the big island last month! honoka’a was definitely a great trip off the beaten path. paul also provided some of the BEST macadamia nuts i have ever tasted!

  4. Just to let you know, you should not have to pay for the walk that goes along the aquaduct. For the best Hawaii tourbook, visit Wizardpub.com. It is written by a guy who lives there, and who knows all the local gems and gold mines (Figuratively).

    The reason I say you shouldn’t have to pay is because it is government owned land. Unfortunately, a recent earthquake caused sections of the trail to collapse, and they have now padlocked the gate for access.

  5. I hiked somewhat on the rim of waipio via white road. All you have to do it climb over the first fence then the second fence into the kohala forest reserve. i was supprised by how busy it was there as i had seen 4 different hiking groups that same time. So yes its closed but just some climbing and you in and many many people do it.

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