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Bounded by 2,000-foot cliffs, the "Valley of the Kings" was once a favorite retreat of Hawaiian royalty. Waterfalls drop 1,200 feet from the Kohala Mountains to the valley floor, and the sheer cliff faces make access difficult. Though completely off the grid today, Waipio was once a center of Hawaiian life; somewhere between 4,000 and 20,000 people made it their home between the 13th and 17th centuries.
To preserve this pristine part of the island, commercial-transportation permits are limited—only five outfitters offer organized valley trips and they're not allowed to take visitors to the beach: environmental laws protect the swath of black sand. And on Sunday the valley rests.
A road leads down from the Waipio Valley Overlook, but only four-wheel-drive vehicles should attempt the very steep, treacherous road. There are no roads on the valley floor, and the going is often muddy. The walk down into the valley is less than a mile from the lookout point—just keep in mind the climb back up is strenuous.