Hawaii Part II: Muliwai Trail to the Waimanu Valley


Waimanu beach. Photo by John Mahler.

In which we head to the Hilo side to meet up with the Ota family (C’s Mom’s side). But first, backpacking the Muliwai trail to the Waimanu Valley with cousins John, Brittney, and Alex!


Cousins: Before.



After much trepidation (on the part of John, Brittney, and Alex, who were excited right up until all their local cousins responded to the plans with loud scoffs and exclamations about hike difficulty) and much convincing (on the part of C & J, who delight in hikes everyone else thinks are too difficult), the voyage began!

Day 1 starts at the stunning Waipi’o Valley Lookout. Then we hike steep down into the valley, ford the river, cross the valley, hike steep up out of the valley, hike up and down 13 smaller valleys and ford 13 small streams, hike steep down into the Waimanu Valley, and finally ford the river to our campsite.


After 9.5 mi, we reach our just reward: The Waimanu beach – our campsite for the next two nights.


That night, we celebrate July 4th in style with sparklers and stars. Also our first night: J spearfishing prawns in the river to supplement our delicious ramen dinner. Unfortunately, no photos were taken, but it was just as badass as you’re picturing.


Day 2 begins with a delicious breakfast of mullet fish, gifted to us by our new friend and neighbor Troy. Along with Brittney’s harvested coconuts and bananas from our new friend Kavita, we fancy ourselves quite the foragers.

Below, Kavita and Troy teach us how to warm banana leaves over the fire so that they are pliant enough to wrap the fish without breaking.


We feel intrepid, but mostly sit and watch our new friends teach us how to catch the fish, clean the fish, and cook the fish. Hawaiians are so communal and friendly it’s ridiculous.


Alex and John: First camping trip ever, and already so good at this.


Along with the fishing spear and the metal grill we’ve been using to cook, we also find a boogie board, brought in by someone foolish enough to carry a boogie board 9.5 miles, and left behind for everyone for ever more to enjoy. Breakfast completed, we spend the morning lounging and learning how to boogie board.



Photo by Brittney Mahler.

That afternoon, clearly not tired from all the other activities, we take a short day hike to Waihilau Falls, a 2,600 ft falls with a delightful swimming hole. The falls are sadly quite low on water.



Looking up the Waimanu Valley, Waihilau Falls in the distance.



We spend Day 3 doing Day 1 in reverse (minus the spearfishing of prawns), and pretty much ace it. J, as per usual, does the whole thing in flip-flops.

All in all, a pretty fantastic trip!


Cousins: After



Photo by Brittney Mahler.

We take a quick dip in the ocean at Waipi’o beach, and meet Uncle Jay, another friendly, helpful Hawaiian. He loads us onto the back of his truck for a lift back up to the lookout, along with about 15 other people. J and I hitch a ride with Uncle Jay all the way back to Hilo.


Next Up: Ota Family Reunion!


Photo by John Mahler.

Lots of Love!

C & J




2 thoughts on “Hawaii Part II: Muliwai Trail to the Waimanu Valley

  1. Fantastique! Great pictures, great story-telling, and no mention of any agony. Of course someone would hike in with a boogie board and leave it there. Love, Dad

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