Tropical rainforest backdrops. Cool pools of fresh water. Rocky heights that make your jaw drop. This is what visitors can expect to see when venturing through Hawaii Island’s vast landscapes. Just outside downtown Hilo you’ll find soaring waterfalls that bubble and emit cool rainbow mists.
Rainbow Falls, or Waianuenue, which means “rainbow water” in Hawaiian, is known for its impressive 80-foot drop over a lava cave. It’s easy to access in Wailuku State Park, just off Rainbow Drive and only 10 minutes from the Grand Naniloa Hotel. To get to the falls, drive up Wainuenue avenue, bear to the right on Rainbow Drive and park in the parking lot on your right.
Boiling Pots, also known as Pe‘epe‘e Falls, is a section of the 18-mile-long Wailuku River, the second longest river in Hawaii. The striking feature of these falls is the terraced pools or “lava pots” that give the appearance of boiling water. To get there, continue past Rainbow Falls for approximately one mile, and turn right from Waiānuenue Avenue onto Peʻepeʻe Falls Road. Look for Wailuku River State Park and continue to the parking lot on your left. Bathroom facilities are available within the park.
Drive a bit further outside Hilo and in less than 30 minutes you’ll be at the popular waterfall spot Akaka Falls State Park, home to two waterfalls, Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls. The drive along the Hamakua Coast to get to the falls is idyllic. From the hotel, take H-19 (Hawaii Belt Road) and turn left onto Honomu Rd, then take another left onto State Highway 220. Once you get to the park, you’ll have to take a short uphill 0.4-mile hike to the falls where you’ll walk through a verdant rainforest of wild orchids, bamboo groves and cascading ferns.