For years, I had wanted to hike Pololū Valley in Kohala, but for various reasons, it kept never happening. Recently, one of my very good friends decided to move back to the mainland, and Pololū Valley is her favorite place on earth, so my husband and I drove from Hilo with her and her boyfriend trek into the valley.
Pololū Valley is a .7 mile steep moderate hike. When we went, the weather had been dry so we had to be careful not to slip on loose dirt. The trail also has rocky ground much of the time. Despite its steepness, there were people of all ages hiking. Overall, the hike is a lot shorter and less strenuous than hiking Waipi‘o Valley, so I’d recommend Pololū as a good measuring stick for those thinking of attempting to hike Waipi‘o.
When you reach the bottom of the trail, you’ll be greeted by a forest before you, the valley on the left, and a beach on the left. In front of you is what looks like a river, but is actually an inlet of water. It’s quite peaceful to see the green water and the trees gracefully draping into the inlet as the water softly laps on the shore.
You can turn right and walk along a path in the grass to get an amazing view of the valley (the featured image for this post!).
If you turn left, you can walk along the shore of the valley’s black sand beach or cross the islet and walk up into the woods. There are a few ropes hanging in the trees, which we saw many adults and kids swinging on. There are many opportunities for great pictures if you go at the right time of day and have some patience. We didn’t have enough time for tons of glamor shots, but I’ve seen some amazing pictures of couples in the valley from Tracey Lyn Photography.
The ocean was rough due to the wind, but people were still in the water. I’d recommend you to avoid swimming in the ocean, since it’s known to be a dangerous beach due to its waves, rip currents, and the rocky shore.
The hike up was definitely more challenging than walking down, and we had to stop and take a few breaks. Overall, though, I’m glad I finally got to hike the valley and to share the experience with loved ones. Although you could explore the shops or restaurants in Hāwī, the North Kohala town before Pololū Valley, we all opted to return to Waimea to eat at Big Island Brewhaus to guzzle water, eat dinner, and drink some delicious, well-deserved beer before heading back to Hilo.
Many people would drive from Hilo to Kona using the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, known as “Saddle Road,” but aside from a higher speed limit and great views of Mauna Kea and Mauna Loa, as well as the Puʻu Huluhulu cinder cone hike, Saddle Road is a relatively more boring ride. Pololu Valley is 82-88 miles from Hilo, and 60.3 miles from Kailua-Kona.
If you haven’t visited Hawai’i before, I’d recommend taking a drive along the Hamakua Coast and going through Waimea to reach Kohala. The Hamakua Coast has beautiful ocean views and offers the opportunity to stop at a botanical garden, Akaka Falls, the Waipi’o Valley Overlook, and Tex Drive-In (which has great malasadas). Waimea also is known for its paniolo (cowboy) heritage, so it’s cool to stop there and compare the town to other parts of the Big Island. The restaurants I like in Waimea thus far are Noodle Club and Village Burger Waimea.