To Waimanu and back

The whole idea of coming to Hawaii was to go backpacking and camping on the beach. While researching potential routes, we discovered one perfect hike: Kalalau trail on Kauai island. It got us really excited. Well, apparently a lot of other people are very excited by it as well. So much so that you have to book a permit way in advance. When we checked in April, the earliest available was in October. Hm… So we settled for its closest rival (according to my travel guide): Waimanu valley trail on Big Island.

It’s 18 miles round trip with very steep uphill and downhill climbs. It was supposed to be hot, wet and grueling. And it didn’t disappoint.

We planned to stay there for one night (despite many reviewers recommending at least 2 nights), so we needed to get proper amount of food. For Matt it meant 4lb of meat (mostly pastrami).

All the prep was done the night before in Kona, so we could leave early in the morning to drive 1.5 hours across the island to Waipio lookout where the trail begins.

Look at us. So cheerful and energetic…

Brief overview of the trail: the trail starts at Waipio valley. We had to walk down from the lookout to get there since we didn’t have a 4-wheel drive. It was super steep long descend (especially, on the way back when I was ready to cry and just give up).

Then we crossed Waipio beach. Still fun.

Then we had to climb up… For a mile. Up and up and up… I don’t have pictures on my phone from that ascend… Or any other part of that hike because all I could think was: one step at a time…

Anyways, after a million of switch backs and spider webs and streams, we got to the descend to Waimanu valley. Should be easy, right? That was probably the hardest part of the hike. The trail was covered in rocks and leaves, which made it slippery. My legs were already hurting, hence keeping balance took a huge amount of effort. Even Matt was getting cranky (and that doesn’t happen often on most challenging hikes).

The last hurdle was to cross a stream that separated us from the camping area.

But at the end it was well worth it. For real. The whole beach had 9 camp sites, only three were occupied that night (including us). Our camp site #9 was the most remote, which made us feel all alone in the whole world (so many references to Tom Hanks!)

That’s Matt sawing wood for our campfire with the Swiss army knife (best tool ever). I also tried to open a coconut with it… After 15 minutes I was able to extract 2 spoonfuls of coconut water. It was enough to feel accomplished and not attempt again.

For dinner we had​ grilled spam (I had to try it as it was Hawaiian favorite. But never again…), pastrami and bell peppers.

The only wild animal we saw that night was a cat… I’m still puzzled on how it got there. But yeah, there was a normal looking cat that kept stalking us.

Next day, we woke up bright and early to check out a nearby waterfall.

And then we were ready to head back to civilization. We did entertain the idea of staying for an extra night, but we didn’t have enough food.

I knew that the hike back will be even harder than the day before. But that’s why this adventure was so exciting. We appreciated those few hours on the gorgeous secluded beach a lot more for how much effort we put to get there and back.

To distract myself from the physical exhaustion during the hike, I started collecting local flora. It helped for a bit.

Then I started repeating my mantra over and over again: one step at a time. It worked like magic.

At Waipio beach, just before getting to that last stretch of super steep uphill road, we took our shoes off to feel the cold ocean water wash across our feet… Best healer ever.

That last piece of our hike made me very cranky, I wanted to stop and cry…

But only for a bit.

I was ready for another big hike soon afterwards. But first, I had to eat a big dinner.

Kuhio Grille, home of one pound laulau… Basically stuffed cabbage LOL


  1. Да уж, вот это античное приключение! Для полноты ощущений нужно было или рыбку словить, или птичку и на вертеле поджарить

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