Enjoy The Best Waterfalls on Hawaii’s Big Island
The island has dozens of beautiful waterfalls, many of which are easily accessible, so it isn’t easy to choose the best. However, visitors and locals alike tend to love these falls the most.
You’ll find this magnificent 442-foot waterfall at Akaka Falls State Park. Take a pleasant, self-guided walk through lush green tropical land to the overlook. It’s only about half a mile in length, and you’ll also see the cascading Kahuna Falls along the way.
In addition to being visually stunning, Rainbow Falls is known for the rainbow that forms in its mist most mornings. Legend has it that the cave beneath the falls was once home to Hina, mother of the demigod Maui. To reach Rainbow Falls, head to Wailuku River State Park and follow the signs.
Boiling Pots is located about a mile past Rainbow Falls, along the Wailuku River, near downtown Hilo. The cauldron-looking falls were formed from lava flows, which created huge spaces within that have since created the large cylinders you’ll see today.
Note that, while Boiling Pots is wonderful to see, it’s also dangerous. Flash flooding in the pools is common, and sadly, many people have died here by getting sucked into the water and getting trapped within the concealed lava tubes and caves.
Despite being the tallest waterfall in Hawaii, Hi’ilawe Falls is easily overlooked. It stands at approximately 1,450 feet tall with the main drop being just over 1,200 feet. The waterfall is only visible from the bottom of Waipio Valley, which requires a fairly steep 800 foot descent down a road that requires 4×4 cars or trucks equipped with “four low” gearing. You can also walk this 1.3 mile stretch of road, but be prepared for the steep climb back. From the valley floor, it is a fairly easy 10 minute hike to reach the falls. Keep in mind that the falls often go dry due to water diversion for irrigation. If you do hike out to the falls, make sure to also visit the stunning black sands of Waipio Beach.
Waiulili Falls is also accessible via the Waipio Valley. Admittedly, this is a very difficult waterfall to reach by hike. It requires descending into Waipio Valley, then finding the Muliwai Trail trailhead and hiking another nine miles along a series of switchbacks. Luckily, the waterfall is also visible from Waipio Beach. And if you can swing a helicopter tour, you’ll get some amazing Waiulili Falls views.
Located along Old Mamalahoa Highway in Hakalau, Umauma Falls is very easily accessible. You can drive on a concrete road right to the falls and the surrounding tropical garden, and the visitor center is full of great information. The site is open daily until 4:30 p.m.
This massive waterfall is set on privately accessible property, surrounded by rustic cabins and an inn on a 42-acre farm. The area has been featured on Netflix’s “World’s Most Amazing Vacation Rentals,” and it’s a peaceful place to visit when you’re ready to go off the grid for awhile. Purchase a day pass and explore the trails, bamboo gardens, and waterfall views. A limited number of passes are sold each day, so you’ll never have to worry about crowds.
No visit to Hawaii is complete without chasing waterfalls. With proper planning, you can see all these spots on more in a single visit.