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Pololu Valley, Hawaii Island

Hiking Hawaii Island

Trek to the beach at ‘the end of the world,’ X and Y. Hiking on Hawaii Island is exotic, wild and tranquil. The Big Island delivers superlatives in spades: towering cliffs and hulking volcanoes, lush tropical forest, hidden beach oases and sandy shores in shades of green, black and white. Get out on foot to take it in at your own pace and savor the beauty.

Pololu Valley, Hawaii Island


This enchanting, volcano-carved valley at the end of a quiet road really feels like a postcard of quintessential Hawaii. Take in what reviewers rank as one of the top Big Island panoramas: 500-foot-high cliffs of the northeastern coast carpeted in a velvety green, dramatic gulches and gorges, craggy rock outcropping silhouettes rising from the sea, grazing horses and breakers hitting the shore far below. Then descend the steep trail through the ironwood trees for about half an hour to the valley floor. Picnic on the black sand beach “at the end of the world,” as one reviewer calls it, and watch for humpbacks from December to March. Go early in the day and bring ample water. Stop in at the artsy town of Hawi on the way in or out.

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SnorkeLing at Molokini Crater


Geysers hiss and steam at two of Earth’s most active volcanoes, Kilauea and Mauna Loa. The enormous, 335,259-acre park lies 45 miles southwest of Hilo. It is a sacred spot, a World Heritage Site and one of the islands’ most popular draws, thanks to the remarkable geology unique in the world. Take a day hike or adventurous backcountry expedition on some 150 miles of trails, passing astonishingly diverse ecosystems and extremes: craters, lush ferns, scorched earth, lava tubes and arid desert. Join a ranger talk or guided hike, drive the Crater Rim Drive or explore on foot. Set aside an entire day for this natural wonder.

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The trip might be short, but the payoff is big at this lush state park on northeastern Hilo Coast. It’s less than a half-mile and 75 feet up, and you’ll amble through bamboo, feathery ferns and wild orchids en route to two rushing waterfalls. Kahuna Falls measures 100 feet, while Akaka is a classic chute falls blasting 442 feet down into the steep gorge and Kolekole stream. You’ll see why it’s the Big Island’s most famed cascade. This easy trek along a paved trail is ideal for families. Go on quieter weekdays before 11 am to see the sun lighting up the falls.

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