Hawaii: Waimanu Valley

Come to this tropical oasis for great weather, an array of fruit and some great swimming.
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Come to this tropical oasis for great weather, an array of fruit and some great swimming.

Your mission: Get lazy in this this little-visited oasis, with its perfect weather, trees laden with tropical fruit, and the best swimming hole we've swum.

Your basecamp: Hollywood couldn't beat the beachside sites you'll find beside the Waimanu River on Hawaii's Big Island.

Day 1: The guava trail>>> Skip breakfast today, because a smorgasbord of succulent fruit awaits. Start by descending into the rugged Waipio Valley by foot or 4WD. Wade across Wailoa Stream, wave good-bye to the surfers, and begin today's 7-mile hike with the trip's only hardship--a switchbacking climb up the valley's western wall. Continue on the Muliwai Trail, harvesting pungent lemon guava, until you reach Waimanu Valley and its deserted black sand beach. Pitch a tent under the palms or play in the surf--your pick.

Day 2: The harvest Lounge>>>. Swim. Repeat. Later, wander upstream to explore ruins (a tsunami chased out the valley's last inhabitants in 1946) and pick more fruit. Avocados ripen toward the end of the "dry" season (May through September); guavas, pearlike mountain apples, and juicy papayas are easier to find. After dinner, let the trade winds cool your sun-warmed skin as you lean against your driftwood couch.

Day 3: The swimming hole>>> Follow wild pig trails (marked with pink surveyor's tape) an hour upvalley to 800-foot Waiilikahi Falls, a two-drop cascade with a deep, sparkling pool straight out of your favorite tropical fantasy. In the afternoon, retrace your steps to camp, pack up, and return to Waipio Valley. On the way out, fill every empty container with guava.

getting there: Parking is 49 miles north of Hilo on HI 240 at the Waipio Overlook on the Big Island. The Muliwai trailhead is 1.5 miles down a steep 4WD road.

guide:Hawai'i Trails: Walks, Strolls, and Treks on the Big Island, by Kathy Morey ($17).

contact:Division of Forestry and Wildlife, (808) 587-0300; www.hawaiitrails.org. Free permits required.