Pahala’s Scenic Wood Valley

The quiet town of Pahala is tucked away deep in the heart of Ka’u's upland plains.  This lesser-known area is home to quite a few back country scenic drives, and Wood Valley Road (6.5 miles long) is one of them.  As you leave Pahala area and head up into the valley you you’ll pass by numerous macadamia nut farms and towering conifers.  The land opens up into wide pastures with grazing cattle meandering across the rich green hillsides.  Soon you’ll pass by the transparent-walled Ka’u Coffee Mill where, thanks to benefactor Edmund C. Olson, local coffee growers can have their product milled close to home and no longer have to make costly trips to Kona for processing.  This climate is perfect for coffee, and though Ka’u coffee production is relatively young, the quality of its product has earned it plenty of respect already.  The mill does tours and tastings by appointment only (808-928-9811).

As you continue through Wood Valley the land spreads out.  Gradual sloping valley walls blend into a wide plateau with picturesque plantation and farm houses dotting the hills.  Huge conifers and Albesia trees tower overhead.  At the back of the valley the road forms a loop (the rear half is unpaved).  The area has several bed and breakfasts like the Pahala Plantation Cottages and the Hale Aloha Aina.  There are also quite a few people up here who rent out their homes in this beautiful remote valley as vacation rentals.  If you’re looking for a place to stay in Wood Valley you won’t have trouble.

Wood Valley is also home to Nechung Temple, a Japanese Buddhist temple which is open to the public.  Originally rebuilt after being destroyed by a flood in the 1920′s.  During WWII the Japanese teacher and minister at the temple were taken to holding camps and the doors were closed in 1963.  For ten years the buildings lay in disrepair until a small group of Tibetan Buddhist students from Oahu and recovered the temple from the overgrown jungle.  Since reopening the temple has been visited by the Dalai Lama on two occasions with thousands of people in attendance each time.  The temple also offers lodging and accommodations (www.nechung.org)

Wood Valley is a picturesque land tucked away on the eastern side of Mauna Loa.  This lush, wet land is often draped in misty fog in the mornings and afternoons.  Whether you’re just passing through Pahala or you’re staying in the area, if you have a car and want to see hidden Hawaii, this is a drive you’re sure to enjoy.

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