The Waipio Hostel, located downstairs in the Alegre Plantation House is in the sleepy, former plantation town of Kukuihaele, just a stone's throw from the 2nd most visited attraction on the island - the majestic Waipio Valley, valley of the kings. It's a place where time has seemingly stood still and where guests get a taste of a bygone era. Waipio Valley is a 'must experience', preferably on foot, but horseback and van tours are available as well.
Kukuihaele is 9 miles from the historic town of Honokaa where guests can enjoy local and Italian cuisine, shop for groceries, gifts, fruits and vegetables. There is a post office, various banks and ATM machines, an incredibly beautifully remodeled historic theater where you can watch a movie or attend a live concert. One of the new additions to town is the Heritage Center at UH Hilo's campus at the North Hawaii Education and Research Center. Get a feel for the past of this beautiful area at the Heritage Center.
Kukuihaele is at the end of the road, the starting point of a hike into Waipio or even into Waimanu Valley, a days hike away with registered camping grounds. Although quite isolated for those seeking quiet and peace, it's only 1 hour from Hilo and 1 hour 20 minutes from Kailua-Kona. Both have international airports and the drive in both directions covers stunning and diverse landscapes. Mauna Kea, with it's snow capped top in winter can be seen from Honokaa town.
The ranching town of Waimea is just a 30 minute drive from the Alegre Plantation House where guests can visit the historic Parker Ranch, attend cultural events at the Kahilu Theater, or eat the restaurants of all price categories. From there, it's just a 15 minute jaunt to the warmth of the west side beaches.
Heading towards Hilo, it's worth stopping at the locally owned 50's Diner in Laupahoehoe. This little town is also home to the Laupahoehoe Train Museum where guests can learn about our history of railroad. Down the winding road to Laupahoehoe Point, visitors can also see the memorial to those who lost their lives to the tsunami of 1946.
While in Kukuihaele, guests can take an ATV ride around the rim of Waipio Valley and swim in waterfalls most never get to see. It's the same for the horseback ride around the rim with stunning views from the top and back of the valley.
In the valley, guests can take a horseback tour of the valley or a van tour. There is also a horse-drawn buggy ride. The most impressive visit is by foot. It's important, though to be respectful of the land and stay on public roads and trails as much of the valley is privately owned and considered sacred by the people of these lands.
My absolute favorite 'must do' while in Kukuihaele is to hike down to Waipio's beach and lay on the black sand and soak up the peace and serenity while listening to the wind and the roaring waves. It's absolutely energizing.
Fruit abounds in Kukuihaele and much of it is wild - passion fruit, guavas, avocados galore. Many residents are happy to share their tangerine, oranges and macadamia nuts when in season.