Dispatch: Hiking and Eating in Pololu Valley
Photo by Janeen Christoff
One of the things that you will probably notice when visiting Hawaii is that there is never a shortage of beautiful hikes or beautiful meals. That is certainly the case when it comes to sightseeing on the Big Island, where it is worth it to drive to the northernmost end of Highway 270 to be rewarded with both great hiking and tasty treats.
At the very end of the road, visitors will find the Pololu Valley and the dramatic coastline of the North Kohala Coast. The beautiful overlook, with green pastures and a stunning overlook, is a great photographic stop, but to get the full impact of the grandeur of this part of the island, make the short but steep hike to the bottom, where you can see each of the verdant valleys that lead to Waipio in the south opening up to the sea below.
The hike downhill takes about 20 minutes and, once you are at the bottom, the official trail ends. There are several offshoots, however, that lead up the stream, across the valley and up the slope of the mountain on the other side. The scenery in this part of the island is lush and green. There are rope swings and benches to sit on and enjoy the waves crashing on the black-sand beach below.
Beachcombing is a better option than actually getting into the water, which is rough and has deep undercurrents. Swimming is not recommended and, even if the conditions look calm, the ocean can turn on a dime as we witnessed first-hand when the wind kicked up just a little.
Make sure not to guzzle all of your water on the way down, because you are going to want it on the steep climb back up the hill. However the views are stunning and constantly changing with the weather and the clouds that roll in and out of the area frequently.
If you play your cards right, you can cover up all those hiking breaks to catch your breath as photo stops. To really wow your fellow hikers, stop and point out the hala trees, which grow along the path. The female hala trees grow impressive looking green bulbs that look like, and are often mistaken for, pineapples.
After your hike, you will probably be feeling a little warn out, and the one thing you really want to do is stop for a big meal. Well, not really. But you most likely want to stop for some snacks and an extra cold beverage and the nearby town of Hawi has you covered.
The Bamboo Restaurant & Gallery is among the most well-known restaurants in the area, but the nearby Local Dish has fresh, friendly, local organic food that is ideal for post-hike noshing. If you are lucky and it’s in season, you can try the chilled cucumber soup with a cold draft beer, which we did on the recommendation of the friendly owner, Matt. Guacamole is also delicious and made fresh, and be sure to try the spicy salsa, also homemade and with a hint of papaya.
Hawi is a small town, but it is certainly not short on flavor. There are fewer than 10 restaurants in the area, but they all come with high praise. For vegan fare, try Sweet Potato, and Sushi Rock is also a great option for those looking for something with an Asian flair.
More by Janeen Christoff
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