Pardon the dorky helmets. It had to be done.
Waipio Valley was maybe the most awesome thing I've seen in Hawaii (outside of my magically incredible wedding, of course.) I think we were all stunned into silence.
The trip began after a 2 hour drive from Kailua-Kona early in the morning. We arrived at an art gallery, where we were to be picked up by a guide. Keoni, our guide, grew up in the valley. Much of his family still lives there. He told us not to buckle our seat belts in the 4 wheel drive van. We thought he was kidding until he made it quite clear that he was not. You see, the drive down into the valley is at a 25% incline, and the road is, shall we say, bumpy. Oh, and there's a sharp cliff off one side of the road that leads to the valley floor. His exact words were, "if the brakes fail and we need to bail quickly, you don't want your seat belt fastened."
Okay, Keoni. I trust you.
Either way, we became instantly mesmerized as we made our way down into the valley. At every turn, the awesomeness grew. Waterfalls snaking down the cliffs in all directions, rivers running over the roads, gigantic tropical trees of all varieties, taro farms surrounding the few houses we passed. There's no electricity in Waipio Valley, and only about 50 people actually live there.
Here's the valley view from the ocean, taken from hawaiipictures.com:
So we get to the horse stables, and Keoni points out all the wild horses that don't belong to them that like to mill around the stable horses. He encouraged us to take one of the mules home with us. Maybe next time. After a brief lesson in horse riding, Keoni's cousin Rachel brought out horses one by one, which Keoni chose for each rider, based on our height and weight, I think. My horse was named Stoney, and he was AWESOME.
After we were each all horsed up, we set off into the wonderland. And thus began the silence. It was hard to say much, I just couldn't believe everything I was seeing down there. "The light scatters differently here." (Sorry--LOST reference.) But, actually, no, it really does.
We rode down rivers, up trails, and through gorgeous green jungles for about 2 hours. At one point Keoni pulled a perfectly ripe avocado off a tree and cut up slices for each of us to taste. Maybe my brain was a little wonky from the blurred dimensions I was experiencing down there, but I swear it was the tastiest avocado I've ever had in my life.
Truly an amazing experience.
I have more pictures and more stories, but I have to save those for later. The best pictures, which I haven't shown you, will be made into prints. They're so good, I need to save them for later.
I cannot wait to go back to Waipio Valley.