Hawaii and tourism are a delicate mix. With the islands now welcoming back visitors sans restrictions, numbers are flowing in at record pace.
On one hand, tourism is absolutely vital to the economy of the islands. On the other hand, any place where nature plays such a large role in the magic is going to struggle with the impact of mass tourism.
The Valley Of The Kings, officially the Waipio Valley is often regarded as one of the most beautiful and untouched places on earth, but in response to a series of issues and worries over mass tourism, the valley has closed to visitors indefinitely.
Waipio Valley On Big Island Closes To Visitors
Travelers headed to the big island will now see an unpleasant sign ahead on any trips to the Waipio Valley. Visitors are now banned from driving on the Waipio Valley Road.
As mass tourism to the area grew, more and more accidents followed. The roads in and around the valley experience steep gradients and tight squeezes and recent years brought a series of unfortunate incidents.
Even off the treacherous entry road, hikers regularly got lost in the endless jungles, coves and caves that make up the Valley of Kings, creating a strain on local resources.
Residents and home owners are still welcomed to use the road, and gain access to the “Curved Water” beach and stunning caves, but others are not. Unless you know a local, the chance of getting down into the valley and seeing what many have called the most beautiful place are pretty slim.
Instagram Versus Reality
The reality of tourism in 2022 is that inspiration is never more than a swipe away. A single photo on Instagram or other social media can propel a trip forward — and with it, many thousands, if not millions of other eager visitors.
But the reality, is that many of the idyllically beautiful places featured on social media aren’t equipped for mass tourism. In fact, mass tourism has ruined many of the best beaches and natural sights in the world, from Maya Beach to the shores of Hawaii.
The Waipio Valley is absolutely an example of a place that was never prepared for mass consumption. Construction has begun on the road to bring added safety, but even upon completion, there’s no real guarantee that visitors will be welcomed again.
It’s a sad twist for those seeking the thrill of one day standing on one of these hallowed beaches, knowing that opportunity may never come again. Well, at least not without a local “in” to get you down the road. As a consolation, the Waipio overlook is still open.
You never know when travel opportunity may close, potentially forever, and that’s why travel should never be put off on a “one day” bucket list.