When people pack for a trip to Hawaii, they probably think about bringing shorts, t-shirts, bathing suits, surfboards and golf clubs. I'm sure that few people think that they could also use heavy blue-jeans, cowboy boots and hat, not to mention winter gloves, a heavy sweater and even thermal underwear.
But, if you plan it right, in one day on the Big Island of Hawaii, you can ride horseback in one of the most isolated places on earth, the Waipi'o Valley, and still have time to travel to the 13,796 ft. cold summit of Mauna Kea for sunset.
You can experience the quiet and serene beauty of nature in Waipi'o Valley, framed by thousand foot cliffs on each side, wild horses, and one of the most beautiful waterfalls on earth.
Then you can feel the awe and mystery of the universe as you look down from above the clouds and watch the sunset from 13,796 feet, surrounded by the largest collection of observatories in the world.
Don't ever believe that Hawaii is just fancy resorts, golf courses and beautiful beaches.
Here's how you can experience what is not a normal day in paradise.
Waipi'o Valley Horseback Adventure
Your morning begins with an early drive from your resort on the Kohala Coast across the northern part of the Big Island to the Hamakua Coast and the small town of Honoka'a. From there it's about a 10 mile drive north to the Waipi'o Valley Artworks in the small town of Kukuihale. This is where you check in for your Waipi'o Valley Horseback Adventure with Na'alapa Stables and meet your guide for the trail ride in the Waipi'o Valley.
From this location, your guide drives you and six or seven others down into the valley by four-wheel-drive vehicle to their stables. It is here that you'll likely meet another guide. Both are experienced riders and quite possibly residents of the Waipi'o Valley where only about fifty people currently live.
Here you'll mount your horse for a two-hour trail ride across the valley floor. These are some of the horses featured in the last scenes of the motion picture Waterworld.
A ride through Waipi'o is both a commune with nature as well as a trip back into Hawaii's cultural and historical past.
The waters often flow heavily in the valley. The famous waterfall Hi'ilawe falls with much vigor and the waters in the river and streams are likewise often quite spirited. The thrill of riding horseback in the Waipi'o Valley, across and up a fast flowing stream cannot be adequately expressed.
By noon, your trail ride will be over and you'll be driven back up to the parking lot of the Waipi'o Valley Artworks.
This shop is well worth a visit when you come to Waipi'o Valley. It features wonderful woodwork by local artisans for sail at an excellent price. You will also find other artworks, books, postcards and even a small ice cream counter.
By 1:00 p.m. it's time to make the drive back across the island to your resort. Between 3:00 and 4:00 p.m. you'll be picked up for your trip to the summit of Mauna Kea - the tallest mountain on earth if you measure from its origin at the bottom of the ocean to the summit.
Next Page > Trip to the Summit of Mauna Kea for Sunset