Waipi'o Valley

Trip Start Oct 03, 2008
Trip End Oct 17, 2008

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Flag of United States  , Hawaii
Monday, October 13, 2008

Day 220 - By half 7 this morning I was on my way to the farmers market in hilo town centre, which is at it's best and busiest early in the morning before the fruit starts to spoil.  It's quite a crazy affair, but a big deal in Hawaii, with tropical flowers, endless fruit and other curious morsels of Asian origin (and usually featuring Spam).  Rather than being for the benefit of tourists - as I'm not sure much is in Hilo - the farmers market is utilized by locals for selling, buying and gossiping.

I then left Hilo to commence my roadtrip around the Big Island and so headed north along the Hamakua Coast, which is as I expected Hawaii to be - lush and green.  The road is pretty cool as it winds in along the coast and over old, one lane bridges to cross gulches, but for it to be that green, it obviously has to rain and it did for a fair bit of my drive north.  On the way I stopped at Akaka Falls, which has two natural waterfalls amongst humid rainforest, the biggest being 420ft high and quite an impressive sight.

Continuing on to the town of Honoka'a, I stopped for a mooch about the quiet main street.  the town is a good example of how a lot of the towns in Hawaii looked, existing for the purpose of sugar plantations and it is very charming with wooden fronted buildings and raised sidewalks.  As I was walking through a few people passing in their cars beeped their horns at me (I think because I was a tourist and it's a way of acknowledgement) and one guy even did a funny hand thing at me.  At the time I did not know what he meant and wasn't sure to be offended or flattered, but later learnt it to be a shaka - the Hawaiian wave! Clearly standing out as a complete non-local, one guy called Thane, with long hair and a leather cowboy hat, came and said hello and asked what I was doing.  He recommended where to go in Waipi'o valley and I believe he would have taken me (with kids and puppy in tow), if he didn't have prior engagement!  So friendly though!  I went to local cafe for a coffee and am already impressed with how many individually and family run businesses exist in Hawaii - much better than Starbucks!  In this one there was a lady singing and playing the guitar and she was just incredible! Entertainment at 10am!

I reached Waipi'o lookout and saw the most amazing view of this enormous, U shaped valley with high, steeped sides and lush green valley floor which met the blue ocean at Waipi'o beach.  To get into the valley, only 4x4s can manage the mile long route that drops 1000ft to sea level by a 25 degree slope - I walked.  The beach was really cool - one half rocks, the other sand.  I sat at the bottom and ate my taro sandwiches and enjoyed the view and sea air before attacking the hike back up.  Typically no truck passed me going up in the time I was walking, so wasn't offered a lift.  Just as I lay on the grass, resting at the top, a hoard of Hawaiian Hells Angels turned up! And as you will see from reading this, this is one of many random experiences that I encountered during my two weeks in Hawaii - it's a pretty crazy place!

Drove inland to Waimea for an overnight stop, but as there are no budget options in the town, I found the cheapest motel, costing $64 a night.  It's a nice place and the first motel I've ever stayed in, which is cool.  Waimea is big ranch country and a nice spread out town of nice houses set amongst green, rolling hills and the tallest peak, Mauna Kea in the background.  The Big Island is a great place for a roadtrip because the scenery changes so much in such a short distance (as does the weather).
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