The Honeymoon Files: Helicopters, Volcanoes, and Valleys, Oh My!

The majority of our time on the Big Island was spent beaching it up, but we put on real clothes long enough to do a few other awesome activities.  

First, on the day after I got horribly sunburned, we headed about an hour a half away from our resort to the mysterious Waipio Valley.  

The drive there was pretty neat because, up until then, we'd been in a little beach resort town and hadn't seen much of the rest of Hawaii.  The drive to and from Waipio Valley brought us into farmland that looked like we could've been anywhere in the US.  

And on the way back, we drove through miles and miles of ranch land covered in shrubby little bushes that seemed inhospitable to even the most undiscerning grazer.  

As for the valley itself, we'd read about it in the guide book, and I was already super intrigued before we even got there.  The valley itself is a controversial place.  Before 1946, it was a booming little town of sorts, housing between 5 and 10 thousand people at any given time.  There were schools and churches, stores, a post office.  And then the 1946 tsunami and a 1979 deluge destroyed everything.  For 1946, no one lived there, and then in the 60s, people started claiming the land (mostly hippies, apparently).  Local Hawaiians cried foul, but the land records for the area were so sparse that they weren't able to provide proof of ownership.  Now it's kind of an off-the-grid lawless area with only about fifty inhabitants that highly value their privacy.  At least that's my understanding of it.  As I said, it's pretty controversial and there are a lot of different notions of whose land it is and whose land it isn't.  You can read more about it here and here

Many people just stop at the lookout either because they don't want to make the trip down into the valley or because they're exercising a great deal of sensitivity towards the privacy wishes of the people who live inside. 

And the view at the lookout is pretty stunning on its own.

But we were determined to go in, and our guide book assured us that it was actually totally acceptable to walk down the public road and into the public areas of the valley.  (Also, there are tours that go down into the valley, so we took that as a sign.)  The road down into the valley is a little less than one mile long and it's the steepest road of its length in the US.  It drops 800 vertical feet in 0.6 miles. 

Because we didn't rent a four-wheel drive car, we walked, knowing that we'd just have to take the long hike back up very slowly (luckily some nice person picked us up halfway to the top and drove us the rest of the way).  

The trek down was also when I snapped my favorite-ever picture of Navah.

I'm sorry, but is she not the cutest?

Okay, back to Waipio...

Looking into the valley as we made our way down the wildly steep paved road (on foot because only four-wheel drive cars are allowed) into the depths, my immediate thought was "a Hawaiian Little House on the Prairie."  So of course I wanted to live there.  

Once you get down inside, you can't blame the folks for wanting to keep the place to themselves.  

I mean, right?

Don't you want to live there?

We didn't see many signs of life while were walking around - just a couple small houses, but we stayed on the edges of the valley, in part because it started to rain and was getting late and in part to respect the  wishes of those who had set up their homes deeper in the valley.  

I'm still incredibly intrigued by it but have been able to find very little information.  In my fantasy life, I go and interview everyone who lives there.  (I don't respect people's privacy in my fantasy life.)

After we left the west side of the island where most of the beaches are, we headed over to Hilo on the east side and went on a kick-ass helicopter ride with Paradise Helicopters in a Hughes 500 (hello Magnum PI fans) with no doors.  It was awesome.  Even though there wasn't a ton of lava for us to see, it was still super exhilarating, and I got a lot of fun pictures.  

We were clearly pretty windblown by the time it was over.  Seeing the island from up above was incredible, especially getting that vantage point for viewing the work of the volcanoes.  You really get a sense of their power and indiscriminate destruction. 

What an amazing trip this was, and it's been so awesome to relive it through these posts.  Next week I'll be moving on to some other exciting things - aka THE WEDDING, but I might revisit Hawaii a bit since I have a couple more topics I'd like to touch on!

Thanks for all your excitement about our Hawaii pictures - these posts have been so fun!


If you're catching up on the honeymoon: