Big Island Waterfall Hikes

Summary: The Big Island of Hawaii is home to some of the most stunning waterfalls in the world, with hikes that offer unforgettable views and experiences. In this article, we will explore the top waterfall hikes on the Big Island, from hidden gems to well-known trails.

1. Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls is one of the most popular waterfall hikes on the Big Island, and for good reason. This stunning 442-foot waterfall is easily accessible, with a paved footpath that leads visitors through lush tropical foliage to breathtaking views of the falls.

The hike is less than half a mile, but the terrain can be uneven and steep in some areas, so it may not be suitable for those with mobility issues. However, there are several lookout points along the path that offer great views of the falls without having to hike the entire trail.

The best time to visit Akaka Falls is after a rainfall, when the falls are at their fullest and most spectacular. Admission to the park is $5 per vehicle, or $1 per person for pedestrians.

2. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is another must-see waterfall on the Big Island. Located just a few minutes from downtown Hilo, the falls are named for the rainbow that often appears in the mist created by the falling water.

The hike to Rainbow Falls is short and easy, with a paved path leading visitors to a viewing platform that offers stunning views of the falls and surrounding area. The falls are especially picturesque in the morning, when the sun shines directly on them and creates rainbows in the mist.

In addition to the falls themselves, the area around Rainbow Falls is also worth exploring. There are several smaller waterfalls and pools nearby, as well as a series of lava tubes that can be explored with a guided tour.

3. Waimanu Valley Falls

If you’re looking for a more challenging and remote waterfall hike, Waimanu Valley Falls may be just what you’re looking for. Located on the northeastern coast of the Big Island, this hike involves a strenuous 9-mile trek through rugged terrain and dense rainforest.

The payoff, however, is well worth the effort. The falls themselves are stunning, with multiple tiers that cascade down rocky cliffs into tranquil pools below. The area around the falls is also remote and secluded, offering a peaceful and pristine natural setting.

Due to the difficulty of the hike, it is recommended that visitors plan to camp overnight in the valley before making the trip back.

4. Umauma Falls

Umauma Falls is another hidden gem on the Big Island, located near the town of Honomu on the northeastern coast. The falls themselves are a series of three cascades that drop a total of 300 feet, creating an impressive display of rushing water and mist.

The hike to Umauma Falls is relatively easy, with a well-maintained trail that winds through lush forest and offers scenic views of the surrounding landscape. Along the way, visitors can also enjoy a variety of other attractions, including an zipline adventure or a swim in the nearby river.

Admission to the park is $15 per person, which includes access to the falls, zipline, and other activities.

5. Piiholo Falls

Piiholo Falls is a lesser-known waterfall on the Big Island, located on the slopes of Haleakala near the town of Hana. The hike to the falls is short but steep, with a rocky and uneven trail that requires sturdy footwear and some caution.

Once you reach the falls, however, the view is breathtaking. The waterfall drops 200 feet into a series of pools and cascades, creating a tranquil and secluded oasis in the midst of the dense rainforest.

The area around Piiholo Falls is also rich in history and culture, with several ancient Hawaiian sites located nearby. Visitors can learn about the area’s past through guided tours or explore on their own.


The Big Island of Hawaii offers some of the most beautiful waterfall hikes in the world, with experiences ranging from easy and accessible to challenging and remote. Whether you’re an experienced hiker or simply looking to enjoy the natural beauty of the islands, these waterfall hikes are sure to be an unforgettable experience.

Remember to come prepared with sturdy footwear, plenty of water, and a sense of adventure, and be respectful of the natural environment around you.

With so many stunning waterfalls to explore, the Big Island is truly a paradise for nature lovers and adventurers alike.

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