Adventure to Pololu Valley and Hawi On the Big Island

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Are you looking for a great hike, a sacred valley with a black sand beach, warm water, a photographic dream and even rope swings to enjoy as a weekend adventure on the Big Island? Many long time residents of Hawaii have seen the gorgeous photos of Pololu Valley and have not taken the drive to the northern tip of the island to explore this area, which is a singular draw for people who want to see the lush valleys of paradise! The valley is located about 90 minutes from Kona and you pass by a stunning view of the Pacific Ocean as you head up the coast.

One of the best parts of going “to the end of the road” is the drive through the charming towns of Hawi and Kapaau, which boasts art galleries, local craft and clothing shops and a decidedly laid back old Hawaii lifestyle.

Two “must visit” eating experiences:

Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery is a historic restaurant with plenty of old Hawaii to make it feel you stepped back in time when you enter the front door. This is the kind of restaurant that serves cocktails in coconut shells and they are strong! Popular dishes include ribs and Kalua pulled pork. You won’t find many restaurants still left that have such a throwback feeling in many other “tourist” places. If you go on the weekend, know that it is closed from 2:30-6 and on Sunday it is only open from 11:30 am-2:30 pm.

Tropical Dreams Ice Cream: Locally made from top notch ingredients, stopping by Tropical Dreams is a must do on the way to or from Pololu Valley. Local flavors include Dragon Fruit, macadamia nut, Kona coffee, and mango. After a hike in the valley, this is a real treat for yourself when you are heading home!

Keep driving down Highway 270 until it dead ends at the valley overlook. This view is so stunning, that sometimes people just stop here to take photos and enjoy seeing the verdant green cliffs drop off into a stunning blue ocean. The hike down takes about 20 minutes and you feel compelled to take photos at every vista point. Really!

Once you are down to the beach, you will find some rope swings created with rope that came in with the tide. As you explore the area you will find other swings created by hikers and people looking for a nice photo opportunity!

Explore the river, the black sand beach and the steep trail that leads up to the top of the next valley, where expert back packers spend three days walking up and down three valleys to enter Waipio Valley on the other side.

Bring a picnic and soak in the sacred energy of this valley. If you enjoy rock stacking, there are plenty of different shaped rocks to create your ephemeral sculpture near the shoreline. Depending upon time of year, you may find more rocks than sand. Summer and early fall is a great time to get as much beach as possible!

Thinking about swimming in the ocean here? Not recommended. There is a strong rip tide and because of its remote location, it can be dangerous if anything happens to you. Feel free to have the warm ocean water roll up to your legs while you take in the absolute beauty around you.

Tips: There are no bathrooms at this beach and no water. In fact, there are no bathrooms within miles of this beach. The closest public bathroom is at Keokea Beach Park near Kapaʻau. Camping is prohibited unless you get a permit. Bring plenty of water as the hike back up is a bit strenuous and most likely it will be pretty warm. You may wish to wear closed toed shoes for the hike as there are rocks on the trail.

A bit of history:

Prior to European colonization, Pololū Valley was renowned for its kalo (taro) farming. A particular variety of kalo (kalo Pololū) was grown here, notable for its crimson stems. Kalo farming was complemented by rice n the 1800s. In the 20th century, though, the valley fell into disuse.

While you are in Kohala:

Flumin’ Kohala has exclusive access to the Kohala Ditch Company’s century-old irrigation system: the Kohala Ditch. Once used to irrigate vast fields of sugarcane, The Ditch provides a unique means of experiencing two great wonders of Hawai‘i. First-amid the gentle sound of dripping and cascading water-its natural, wild and largely undisturbed up-mountain beauty. Secondly, the great engineering feat that is The Ditch itself; a 22-1/2 mile long system of irrigation tunnels, elevated flumes, and open concrete channels hand-drilled and blasted out of solid rock. Floating in a kayak along the Kohala Ditch is a fascinating trip through some of the most beautiful and remote land in Hawai‘i.
Zip Line and Do A Canopy Tour

Do you love zipping through the trees and walking in a tropical forest? Hawaii Forest and Trails offers a zip and canopy tour that lets you get a memorable adventure into your trip or as a fun thing to do with your guests.

Stay While You Play

The Kohala Village Inn is a taste of old Hawaii with tropically appointed rooms and a bamboo bar. Enjoy the in house restaurant the HUB PUB providing meals and beverages featuring local produce and flavors of Kohala in their global dishes. Interestingly, the HUB PUB is part of the Food HUB which works with local farmers and value-added producers to provide “’ono grindz” grown from the Kohala ‘āina (land). Located near downtown Kapaʻau, you can plan on doing a sunset drive to see Pololu Valley, have dinner at the Inn or in Kapaʻau or Hawi and get up early to go on your zip line or Flume adventure!

Luxury Accommodations

LUVA Vacation Rentals has many available homes and condos located near Mauna Kea and Waikoloa Village. Both of these areas are about an hour from Pololu Valley.

Take a look at one of our luxury 4 bedroom/4.5 bathroom ocean front homes near Hapuna Beach in the Mauna Kea Resort.

luxury 3 bedroom/2 bath condo at Hali’i Kai is perfect if you are coming for the holidays with your family and want to enjoy the amenities of the Waikoloa Beach Resort.

This is second of a series of “Weekend Adventures” on the Big Island created by LUVA Real Estate to help our residents and island guests get the most of our beautiful and exciting island home! LUVA Real Estate Realtors are experts on the lifestyle of Hawaii and can offer even more insights into the culture, history and fun things to do on the island. Call us today!


Here is our blog post on Volcanoes National Park.