The Big Island is the youngest and most prominent of the Hawaiian islands. Known for its active volcanoes, unique wildlife, and black beaches, the Big Island is a top tourist destination in Hawaii. The island of Hawai’i is full of scenic wonders like no other place on earth. Some attractions are prominent, like volcanoes or lava tubes, but many are hidden in deep valleys or along remote coastlines requiring some exploration to discover them. One of these attractions is waterfalls, and if that sounds like an attraction you’d love to see, read on to find out more about the tallest waterfalls on the big island!
The first waterfall on our list is Akaka Falls. You can find this waterfall in the rainforest of Akaka falls state park on Highway 220 near Honomu town on the “rainforest side” of the island. After a pleasant and short half-mile trek from the parking lot, you’ll be able to see the falls. This walk is called the ʻAkaka Falls Loop Trail,’ and it’s a simple stroll that everyone in your family can complete. If you take your time, it may take up to half an hour to finish it; however, taking the time is well worth it!
The second waterfall on our list is Hi’ilawe falls. You can find this beautiful waterfall near Waipi’o Valley. The waterfall is on private property; however, the owner allows public access. This waterfall is around 1400ft tall and, at times, will stretch across both sides of the steep valley, allowing you to see it from multiple angles! Although you can hike down into the Waipi’o Valley to see this waterfall, it’s not recommended. It’s a lot easier to take a guided tour in a van or on horseback to see this extraordinary natural beauty.
The third waterfall on our list is Waiilikahi falls. Only intrepid trekkers should attempt this journey into one of the Islands’ most elusive regions, where this extremely tall waterfall is found. The total height of this waterfall is around 1080 feet, with two drops, and the plunge viewable from the base of Waiilikahi is about 300 to 400 feet. If you know what you are doing and want to make the trip, this will make for some incredible sightseeing! Waimanu Valley, near Honokaa on Hawaii Island, is one of the more challenging locations to visit.
Kapoloa Falls is a little-known gem of the Big Island, located deep in Pololu Valley on the North Kohala coast. With a height of around 500 feet, Kapoloa is genuinely a wall of water that reverberates with nature’s absolute might. From afar, you may hear the roar of the falls, and as you approach, you may feel the ground trembling. To see the falls, you must join a tour organized by a hiking guide. Because the route goes over private property, it is impossible to visit independently. If you decide to go on the journey, you’ll be able to get up close and personal with the waterfall as well as stand right behind it. The water falls 300 feet at first, then cascades down the path and tumbles another 200 feet. It’s a spectacular sight.
Umauma Falls, located about 16 miles north of Hilo, is a beautiful three-tiered waterfall with a peak height of approximately 300 feet. Previously, visitors to the World Botanical Gardens could access Umauma Falls. However, after being purchased by the Umauma Experience, which offers a variety of ziplining, hiking, swimming, and kayaking activities on its 90-acre lushness, this natural wonder is now solely for paying guests. If you do not feel like utilizing all the extras the Umauma Experience offers, you can purchase a $10 pass just to gain access to the trails leading to the falls.
Although not as tall as the others on this list, Rainbow Falls is a must-see site! Despite being near the city, the region around the falls has colossal mango trees that give it a sense of solitude. You can hear the water crashing down 80 feet to the rushing pool below, full of turquoise vegetation and lovely ginger bushes.
Just a short trip from Hilo, getting to this waterfall is a lot simpler than others on this list and doesn’t require a guide or a lengthy hike. However, the trek to the cave can be challenging, so take it slowly and wear the proper footwear. If you are feeling adventurous, there’s a short path to the left of the parking lot that will lead you to the top of the falls. The cave is best seen during the early daylight hours when there’s enough light to view the rock formations.
The big island of Hawaii has so many incredible waterfalls to offer any visitor or local looking for a bit of adventure. This list is only a handful of the different kinds of waterfalls you can find on this grand island! If you are ever in need of a good photo op, look no further than these five beauties! Just be safe on the hikes and be aware of what you are getting into before starting!