The Big Island – Hawaii – Day 3


We woke up early to go on our horseback ride in Waipio valley, but they texted and called to tell me the tour was cancelled due to the rain.  Jeri and I were disappointed, but this does mean a savings of around $500.  The kids agreed to pay $50 each for this excursion so they’re Ok with the cancellation.  We decided we still wanted to go to the lookout. Before our trip, I purchased an audio tour from Shaka Guide – they offer tours of various islands. They have 5 tours on this island and individually they cost $15, but as a bundle they were on sale for $30. As you drive, it will tell you the history, fun facts, stories, and songs all based on your GPS location. We drove on a side road and stopped several places along the way to hike into a few lava caves.  The kids are really enjoying the tour and it keeps them occupied.

When we arrived at Waipio valley we couldn’t see the valley very well because of the clouds and rain.  We decided that we were going to hike the 1 mile each direction road to get to the valley floor.  I was surprised that Jeri wanted to do this, I think that she is doing a virtual Everest challenge so she needs a lot of vertical gain while hiking.  This road is very steep, climbing nearly 1000 feet in one mile (a slope of 30-39%) – it is one of the steepest roads in the world. No rental companies allow their cars on this road, not even four wheel drive vehicles. There is a shuttle, but for $65/person, we opted to walk. It rained on us a bit, but the rain cleared out leaving just muddy terrain and puddles of water.  We hiked out to the beach and enjoyed watching the large waves crash down on the black rock beach. 

We also went to look at where a river empties into the ocean.  There we found what looked like a wild horse (there are estimated to be 50-60 wild horses in the valley) – he was branded but just hanging out eating all by himself. He wasn’t interested in us until we pulled out our apples to eat – then we had a new best friend.

We also found a coconut that was ripe and we broke it open and ate some of the meat.  

The view was much better than when we arrived back on top. This valley was once much more populated, but a Tsunami in 1946 destroyed all structures and farms. Today only about 100 people live here.

Everyone was starving after our hike so we stopped at a Shaka recommendation, Tex. This restaurant has a variety of foods as well as Malasadas (Portuguese style donuts).  Caleb especially liked these – we tried one of each kind of filling (strawberry, chocolate, bavarian cream, & apple) as well as one plain one.

Everyone had hamburgers or sandwiches, but on my quest to try local food, I finally ordered a Moco Loco – a traditional Hawaiian food that includes rice, meat (often hamburger), egg, and brown gravy. I had fried chicken as the meat by recommendation of the cashier. It was pretty good and looks very simple to make, but not a very balanced meal – and probably a ton of carbs.

We followed the coast line towards Hilo taking some scenic routes.  We stopped to swing on vines:

We also walked down a nature trail & explored some ocean beach parks.  The jagged rocks of one were really amazing and the big waves would make quite a scene.  We all tried our hand at water bending (my kids love Avatar).

We also saw the amazing Akaka Falls, which is not the tallest waterfall on the island at 442 feet, but the taller ones are much less accessible (the tallest one is Waihilau Falls at 2600 feet). There is a nice and short .4 mile loop path to get you to the best lookout. The water was flowing very heavily due to the rain.

On our way home we heard Coqui frogs and were surprised they were on the island but we learned they are an invasive species from Puerto Rico and Hawaii wants to get rid of them.  They were very loud, but we really like the sound they make.  We stopped at a grocery store to pick up some items to avoid eating out too often.  For some reason, staying in Hilo is very expensive so we stayed out of town at an Airbnb.

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