Chasing Waterfalls Around the Big Island

I grew up in the 90s and am a product of the generation that was advised by girl group TLC to not go chasing waterfalls. So, naturally, what do my family and I do during one of our days on the Big Island? You guessed it- we went from one waterfall to the next, taking in all of the beauty of the natural wonders of Hawaii!

Well, not all of the beauty. After all, there must be dozens of waterfalls scattered around the big island! Read on for more information about the few that we did get to see up close and personally.

Akaka Falls

img_3098The first waterfall we visited was Akaka Falls, which is a beautiful plunge waterfall located within its own state park. After paying just five dollars for parking, we made our way to the paved walkway to continue on toward the fall.

When you start down the path to the fall, you will come to a fork in the road. I highly recommend (as do the park rangers!) that you take the ‘Circle Route.’ This route leads you to a Kahuna Falls lookout point and then continues on to take you to the Akaka Falls platform.

The viewing point for Akaka Falls was pretty distant, but the walk itself was super easy and took about 15 minutes at a leisurely pace. Once we saw all that we came to see, we hopped back in the car and headed to our next destination.

Umauma Falls

The Umauma Falls experience was entirely different than that of Akaka Falls!

First of all, the waterfalls are on private property, so you’ll have to pay $10 just for admission (but kids under 12 are free!) IMG_3114.pngThere’s an excursion company on-site that offers ziplining adventures or a giant swing experience, if those are excursions that you are interested in.

The walk up to the fall takes anywhere from 10 to 20 minutes.  It is not the distance walked that takes up time, but rather navigating through the property to the correct lookout point. Once you get there, the view is worth it!

Once you’ve admired the falls, set foot on the River Walk, which is a meditation path that runs alongside the river. It houses an art installation gravesite that encourages you to ‘bury your enemies’ and ‘go in peace.’ I must warn you, there are a ton of bugs along this path, so beware if you have highly reactive skin! Fortunately, I don’t, but I was still swinging my arms around, trying to avoid all of the mosquitoes.

My family and I were running out of time after visiting Umauma Falls, so we knew we only had room for one more waterfall visit. We marched back to the car, strapped ourselves in, and headed south to see Rainbow Falls.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls was the trickiest to find. IMG_3126.pngDespite the fact that we were using Google Maps from place to place, we ended up driving right past the entry road to Rainbow Falls. Just know that the road isn’t clearly marked, so turn when Google Maps tells you to!

Rainbow Falls has no admission fee. Once you park, you’ll have a steep walk up some stairs to become level with the fall. However, there are multiple lookout points for Rainbow Falls, so you don’t have to ascend any stairs if you don’t want to.

Overall, there’s really no ‘hike’ to this waterfall— it’s more of a come-and-see-me attraction, which was a perfect end to our day of driving around from fall to fall.


I wish my family and I had more time to explore the Big Island, but I’m happy that we were able to stop and take in the beauty of these waterfalls. For more about the Big Island, read my post about my stay in Keauhou Bay! Also, be sure to follow me on Instagram so you don’t miss any pictures of my adventures.

Have you visited Hawai’i? What were your favorite spots?

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