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What Are The Must-Visit Waterfalls On Big Island?

There are so many beautiful waterfalls to check out during your visit to the Big Island. We’ve rounded up our top picks for some of the most beautiful spots for waterfalls on the Big Island.

Compared to many other Hawaiian Islands, the Big Island is huge. The waterfalls of Hawaii on the Big Island are absolutely stunning. Whether you are looking to Big Island waterfall tours or waterfalls you can swim in on the Big Island, this guide will give you everything you need to plan your next adventure.

waterfalls on the Big Island
Image by estivillml

Most of the waterfalls on the Big Island are fairly close to Hilo. If you are staying on the other side of the Big Island, be sure to plan these excursions into your vacation plans. If you are looking for a bit more of an adventure, more waterfalls can be found in the valleys of the Kohala coast, as well as on the northern Hamakua coast.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is one of the easiest to see and most popular waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii. Located in Hilo, Hawaii in Wailuku River State Park, Rainbow Falls might be the most famous waterfall on the island.

The waterfall is named for the beautiful rainbow that forms at the waterfall’s base. Due to its location, the sun hits the water at just the right angle to show off

Standing at around 80 feet tall, this waterfall is a must-see year round on the Big Island.

Pe’epe’e Falls

Located only 1.5 miles upstream from Rainbow Falls, Pe’epe’e Falls is another beautiful spot. If you have the time and are already visiting Rainbow Falls, add a short hike to continue your waterfall adventure. This waterfall is smaller than Rainbow falls, but also way less crowded.

Pe’epe’e Falls form a rather risky, but popular local swimming hole known as “boiling pots.” However, swimming here has proved to be lethal and should be avoided. There are much safer spots to swim - a.k.a. The beach!

Kahuna Falls and ‘Akaka Falls

We grouped this one group of Hawaii Big Island waterfalls together as they both are located in ‘Akaka Falls State Park. Both falls are located on a family-friendly hiking loop (.4 miles) that takes about 30-45 minutes to see both waterfalls.

The lush landscape alone is enough to warrant a hike here. Although ‘Akaka Falls is the main event during the hike, the smaller Kahuna Falls is a must-see as well. And, you’ll pass it on the way to ‘Akaka Falls.

If you only have time to see one of the waterfalls, we suggest seeing the incredible ‘Akaka Falls. Standing at 422ft tall, this free-falling waterfall drops to the bottom of the gorge, creating an amazing panoramic view of the area. It is simply breathtaking.

Note: There is an admission fee to the state park, $5.00 per car or $1 per person if you are walking.

Hi’ilawe Falls

Hi’ilawe Falls is best seen at a distance, as public access to the base of the falls is not possible. This waterfall is one of the tallest waterfalls across all of the Islands, standing at its maximum height at 1,450 feet.

Located in the Waipio Valley, this waterfall is absolutely breathtaking. However, the waterfall tends to be dry in early spring, around March. Even when the falls are dry, the lush landscape is incredible.

If you want to see the base of the falls, you must rent a car with four-wheel drive - and even then, the grade is so steep that it can be dangerous. There are different car rental companies in Kona, Hawaii that will set it up for you. To make the process easier you can look directly into Kona jeep rental deals and reserve the one that meets your needs. You can also walk down from the upper parking lots and viewing decks. Be sure not the trespass onto the private land that surrounds the waterfall.

Kulaniapia Falls

Kulaniapia Falls is a private waterfall located on the Waiau Stream, not far from Hilo. The falls used to only be open to those staying at the hotel located on the grounds. However, they have started opening the grounds to the public for a $49 day pass.

The day pass includes access to amazing hiking trails, tropical gardens and a total of four waterfalls - with Kulaniapia Falls being our favorite.

In addition, if weather and conditions permit, you may be able to swim, kayak or paddleboard under the waterfalls. The property also offers lava encounter tours and lava tube tours as well if you are interested.

Umauma Falls

Located along the Umauma River in Hakalau, Umauma Falls is a series of three, short cascading waterfalls. However, it is important to note that Umauma Falls is a private waterfall that can only be accessed through small group tours.

The private property is currently managed by the Umauma Experience. They offer a variety of tours to see the falls with ziplining being our favorite way to see the falls. They also offer ATV tours, waterfall rappelling and horseback riding tours to the falls as well.

If you are not interested in these tours, you can pay $12 per person to visit the beautiful botanical gardens. The tropical gardens have a wonderful overlook that allows you to get a great view of Umauma Falls.

Waterfall Tours

The majority of waterfalls on the Big Island can be seen on your own. There are many tours available if you would rather visit with a guide. Here are some tours you can check out:

  • Waipio Valley Waterfalls Adventure

This half-day tour takes you to the three most famous Big Island waterfalls: ‘Akaka Falls, Hi’ilawe Falls and Rainbow Falls.

  • Majestic Waterfalls Tour

A tour across the Hamakua Coast that stops at ‘Akaka Falls State Park, Rainbow Falls and Richardson Beach Park.

  • Waterfalls of Kohala

A helicopter tour of the waterfalls along the Kohala Coast.

These are just a few of the many, many tours that can be booked to see the beautiful waterfalls on the Big Island.

Looking for a car rental in Kona, Big island? Get in touch with us!

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