The Big Island of Hawai’i is rich in nature and beauty, abundant with mountains, beaches, and, of course, waterfalls. The high volcanic mountains collect the passing clouds, releasing their water as they try to pass over and around, creating a very lush coast filled with rivers, streams, and waterfalls. If you only have a few days to explore, here is a quick guide to waterfalls on Hawaii’s Big Island to ensure you see the best this Pacific gem offers!
’Akaka Falls State Park
With both ’Akaka and Kahuna Falls, ’Akaka Falls State Park offers quick hiking trails to discover some of the state’s best natural wonders. Plunging 442 feet, ’Akaka Falls is Hawai’i’s most iconic waterfall. To get into the park, nonresidents must pay 5 dollars per person and 10 dollars to park their vehicle if driving. This small fee is absolutely worth this rewarding experience in nature.
Rainbow Falls, located in Hilo, is a very photogenic waterfall that cascades over a lava cave. Rainbow Falls is called Waianuenue in the Hawai’ian language, translating to “rainbow (seen in) water,” as visitors can see rainbows when visiting early in the day. The falls and boiling pots are visible from accessible lookouts, but the best views come after hiking to the top of the falls.
About 1.5 miles from Rainbow Falls is the lesser-known but equally breathtaking Pe’epe’e Falls (pronounced peh-eh peh-eh). Make sure to read the interpretive signs at the falls overlook that have some historical photos and details about the battle that took place in Hawaiian folklore between Mo’o Kuna and Maui.
This 3.5-mile scenic route just north of Hilo is well worth the extra time if you are traveling the North Hilo coast. All along the road, you will find small streams, waterfalls, and picturesque views of the scenery and the old highway. Stop halfway through at Onomea Bay for a short hike down a well-maintained trail to see the rugged and beautiful coastline up close.
Waterfall Travel Tips
To best discover the Big Island and its majestic waterfalls, consider a guided tour from local experts. They will lead you through to the best legally accessible locations while teaching you respect for the culture and the history of these natural wonders. Consider our Big Island waterfall tours to explore the very best of Hawai’i, with hiking, swimming, and authentic farm-to-table cuisine!
Visiting Hawai’i can be incredibly rewarding, leaving you with lasting memories and a deep appreciation for tropical nature. However, it is a land of native culture and long-standing locals that tourists must acknowledge. When following this quick guide to waterfalls on Hawaii’s Big Island, leave no trace and take the Pono Pledge to enjoy the state respectfully!