Look at that! I think I could leave this post at this sight, which captivated me well before I'd seen it in person. I hadn't noticed the waves in the photos I scanned trip dreaming, and they turned out to be one of the most captivating images from above.
My mother in law and I had both read about this ancient valley's beauty before we landed on the island, but after our concierge, who grew up nearby, suggested it yet again, we were in. The only issue? The drive down was very narrow and very steep and not for the faint of heart. So, they arranged the Waipi'o Valley Shuttle to transport us down, and it turned out to be a great decision. We drove the 90 minutes from the resort to the Waipi'o Art Gallery, where we met our driver for the morning, Jade.
Jade started out on the quiet side, but then turned out to know every nook and cranny of the drive, all the plants surrounding the car, as well as their origins. It was a true botanical exploration, and turned out, more than just a shuttle, to be a true tour experience. And, since it was a busy day for them, we were the second van to head out, and had it to ourselves, which made for nice pacing.
The great thing about the Shuttle was they had rights and deals with the land owners in the valley, so could take us far past where we could've driven ourself.
As we descended the wall of the valley, the land just grew richer with greens. The valley has very few inhabitants, and felt secluded in the best way. We stopped to smell noni fruit (aka vomit fruit, and the name's meaning is repulsively true!).
and view the falls, so far in the distance that the haze of the day brightened them nearly out of all photos.
Jade knew the road (thankfully!)
and each tree we passed.
The foliage and weather tour felt like a mini trip around the globe.
At the base of the valley, I can only describe the landscape as an oasis. Clear water streamed everywhere, and our van crossed many streams like this,
the same water which would make the ideal environment for growing taro, like below. I tried taro on our honeymoon and remembered it tasting a bit like clay, but this time, at Merriman's, I had the most incredible taro enchiladas and their creaminess reminded me of pinto beans and cassava.
There was a bit of construction equipment, I believe Jade said for moving the rocks in the river to clear the irrigation, but otherwise, very few signs of human disruption.
There were other inhabitants of the secluded valley; these friendly folk.
Somehow, they knew Jade would have a nut for a treat and nuzzled right into the car window.
We finished up the drive through the paradisal floor of the valley, and started the climb back up.
As we ascended, we saw dozens of hikers headed down the very thin edge of the road, avoiding cars (the only way down) and held onto the seat backs gratefully. With the windows wide open, we passed a few local teens who waved to Jade and started chatting, their walk pace the same as the van's. And somehow, after we agreed, they had caught a ride back up, half hanging on the outside of the car, and half inside; they laughed as we drove past their 5-6 other friends, who had been walking ahead, and we opened the doors again, and had such a blast meeting each of them, and answering their questions about New York.
You can see how we skimmed the edge of the road, and on the other side, the guys were hanging onto the car to avoid scraping their backs on the rock ledges!
Brilliantly, my mother-in-law had arranged an afternoon activity only 30 minutes from Waipi'o, and Jade recommended the Waipi'o Cookhouse for lunch on the way. The view was stunning and Walker declared the bbq some of the best of his life, finger-lickin.
And then it was on to another treat, Tex Drive In in the 'main drag' of Honokaa, where Walker and his mom got fresh, pudding-filled malasadas (Portuguese donuts) that Tex's is famed for. I was drooling. Warm donuts. I can't. Such a sublime end to the morning in serene, remote Hawaii. Afternoon activity? Zipline!!