Megan Shute for Only In Your State on where you can see wild horses roam in Hawaii. Sit back and relax on our luxury Big Island Circle tour which showcases the best of the Big Island including views of Kona, Ka’u and Hamakua coastlines.
Located on Hawaii Island’s Hamakua Coast – away from all the tourists hanging out in Kona, or at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park – is Waipio Valley, the southernmost and largest of the seven valleys of Kohala Mountain. And though the valley’s lookout point is no stranger to tourists hopping out of their cars to snap a few photographs of this picturesque spot, the valley below is an untouched wonder home to a breathtaking black sand beach, one of Hawaii’s tallest waterfalls, and the infamous wild horses in Hawaii.
The sacred Waipio Valley was once the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I, and is an important site for Hawaiian history and culture.
According to oral history, as many as 10,000 people lived in Waipio Valley before Captain Cook’s landing in 1778. A group of Chinese immigrants settled in the valley in the late 1800 and built churches, restaurants, schools, and even a hotel, post office, and jail. But the devastating tsunami of 1946 destroyed the town, and today, only 50 people call the valley home.
History aside, “The Valley of the Kings” certainly appears as though it was made for royalty — the valley is surrounded by tropical vegetation and 2,000-foot high cliffs.
While this Big Island valley is often seen from above at the Waipio Valley lookout, you will need to hike 1.5 miles from the parking lot down to the valley floor, where you will find countless magical wonders, including……a breathtaking black sand beach…
While the blue waters lapping against the black sand might seem inviting, the surf can be pretty rough here, so take warning, and maybe only dip your feet in a little..one of the islands tallest waterfalls. Hi’ilawe Falls, an impressive 1,400-foot cascade, can only be seen from within the Waipio Valley, and isn’t even guaranteed to be flowing. It is, however, one of the tallest waterfalls found throughout the Hawaiian Islands and of course, wild horses roaming the island.
Wild horses have called this remote valley home as long as anyone can remember, and they are quite used to human guests — but don’t be surprised if the wild horses fail to make an appearance during your visit.
Though Waipio Valley is absolutely breathtaking, the road to the valley’s floor from the lookout is pretty gnarly, gaining 800 vertical feet in just 0.6 miles, making it the steepest road of its length in the United States.
While it is possible to drive the road into Waipio Valley if you have a 4-wheel-drive vehicle, it is often on the list of prohibited places to take a rental car.