Waipeo Valley on the Big Island is one of the most gorgeous spots that I have seen. The view from above is just staggering. The road down is VERY steep and you should not even attempt the drive without a four wheeler and a lot of courage. The ultra sharp turns are too tight for most vehicles so you have to start the turn, backup, turn again, and repeat the process to continue.
On the way down you can see the very tall and slender Hiilawe Falls. This is one of the tallest waterfalls in North America. When you see this waterfall you have almost reached the valley floor.
As you continue down the road you pass large and lush taro fields. Taro is a starchy, potato-like root that is a staple in traditional Hawaiian cooking.
On my first trip to the Valley there was a very impressive waterfall that fell into the ocean from the overlook. I think this was the first waterfall that I have seen that falls into the sea. You can’t get a much better photo opportunity than a rocky coastline, impressive cliffs, clear blue skies with fluffy clouds, and a giant waterfall.
While enjoying the scenery I saw some local guys fishing. One used a traditional throwing net and the other used a pole. I asked if I could take photos and got some really good fishing shots. His name was Stanley and he told us about the traditional net fishing. He even gave us some lessons. He made net fishing look very easy. Let me confirm to you that properly throwing a fishing net is NOT easy.
The nets are surprisingly heavy and the edges are weighted. You hold the net lengthwise and parallel to your body. Then you divide the net about a third of the way down and drape the net over your arm. Then you take the bottom part of the net and spread it covering the front of your body like a long skirt. Then you throw it with both hands letting go with your leading hand. You must let the net drag over your leading hand and this causes the net to spread like a parachute. Again, Stanley made it look very easy but it was not easy.
On our first trip we went down to the valley with our ranger friend, Brandon (full article). The local guys were cousins and Brandon noticed that they had a guitar with them. Brandon asked about playing slack-key guitar and Stanley told him, “go ahead, you play, no shame.” Slack key is a particular way of tuning and playing. You tune the strings so that it plays a cord when all the strings are strummed (I am NOT a guitar player).
We had one of the most pleasant afternoons on the beach and we even got a lesson in net fishing. The memories from that day will stay with me for the rest of my life as one of the best days ever. The cousins had the spirit of Aloha and were so welcoming and friendly. The pictures of us trying to deploy the nets were truly comical.