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Rain-starved? New trek to Hilo side of the Big Island shows lush results of 12 feet of wet stuff

For those feeling rain-deprived, a new Big Island tour spotlights the lush Hilo @latimestravel

Attention, rain-deprived Californians: A new Big Island tour starts on the west side of the island but cuts across to Hilo, which is lush thanks to about 275 days a year of rain.

KapohoKine Adventures’ new Waipio Valley Explorer picks up guests at various resorts along the Kona and Kohala coasts — the leeward side — then heads for Hilo, the state’s third largest city.

Guests’ first stop is the beautiful Rainbow Falls in Wailuku River State Park, not far from downtown. From there, it’s on to the Hilo Farmers Market where tropical fruits, exotic flowers, baked goods and more are sold.

At the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden in Papaikou, visitors will find more than 2,000 types of tropical plants. This area gets 143 inches -- almost 12 feet -- of rain a year.

Two more waterfalls await, including a 442-foot giant at Akaka Falls State Park.

After that stop, guests transfer to four-wheel-drive vehicles for the steep and dramatic drive down into Waipio Valley, the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I, who united the islands by 1810.

Amid the rugged cliffs, waterfalls cascade more than 1,000 feet to the valley floor.

Tours last 10 to 12 hours.

Info: Tickets cost $199 per person and can be purchased online.

Info: (808) 964-1000.

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