On the east side of the island around the Hilo area, the climate is sooooooo much wetter than on the west side! North of Hilo there's a lovely little paved walk you can do to Akaka Falls. It's about 1/2-mile or so circular nature trail through beautiful and strange tropical vegetation - orchids, bamboo groves, ferns, and other plants I'm not familiar with. A delightful interlude. The falls plummet over 400 feet down.
Akaka Falls, where water tumbles 420 feet into a stream-eroded gorge, is a "must see" on the Big Island.
A pleasant, moderately challenging half-mile loop takes visitors through a lush rain forest of philodendron vines, wild orchids, bamboo groves and hanging heliconia. The 100-foot Kahuna Falls come into view first, and they are impressive. But Akaka Falls, laden with ferns, are breathtaking.
Legends says that a Hawaiian Akua (God) named Akaka lived besides the
waterfall. Akaka's cousin, Kiha, offended Akaka and was condemned to jump
over the falls. His body was transformed into a red-brown pohaku (stone)
that lies in the pool today.
Akaka was married and had a ilio (dog). He also was a kolohe (rascal), who
had two wahines (girlfriends) . One was named Lehua, on the north side, and
the other named Maile, on the south side.
One day while he was with Lehua, Akaka's kanewahine (wife) unexpectedly
returned home and called for him. Feeling guilty, he raced backed eith his
faithful dog. Near the edge of the cliff, Akaka slipped and fell into
Kiha's grave. His dog remained at the cliff and turned into stone. Running
to save Akaka, his wife also turned into stone at the edge of the falls.
Upon hearing Akaka's fate, Maile and Lehua wept and turned into waterfalls,
located further down.
Folklore says that rain will fall if you touch the large rock at the top of
the falls with a lehua branch or a maile lei around it. This is because
Lehua and Maile always made poor Akaka's wife weep.
There are several waterfalls on the Big Island, most of them are located on the east coast from Hilo and northwards. If you plan to do a waterfalls tour I recomed to start of early to see them all before sunset.
Have a look at my Waterfalls of the Big Island travelogue for more.
Experience the magic of Waipi'o Valley. and a beatifull lush valley with waterfalls This is an important place in ancient Hawaiian culture, full of mana, supernatural powers, apparently the gateway to the underworld is down there somewhere.
You can view the entrance of the valley from a lookout point at the end of highway 240, but it's quite tempting to go down, and you will be rewarded for the effort.
During our short stay on the Big Island we decided that waterfalls and volcanos would be the only things we would be able to see with our limited time.
We did the waterfalls all morning long, chasing them up the coast before heading to Volcanoes National Park.
Akaka Falls is a beautiful 420+ ft. fall. As you arrive to the parking area, take the winding stair case down a winding path. You can take the short cut and head directly to Akaka Falls or you can walk around to the other lesser known fall (will search for the name of this one).
I would highly recommend that you get here early, the park is open early and can be done in less than 1 hour.
The views are spectacular.
If you are encircling the island, going north from the Kona Coast on the main road, you will come upon a sign for Akaka Falls (760 ft.)and Kahuna Falls (899 ft). You will have to drive quite a few more miles and follow the signs to reach them, but you will come upon a circle trail where both falls can be seen and there is no admission. Though not a sunny time of day when we were there, I believe it is worth the walk around to see them, though I'm not sure that I would consider this a well-kept park area.
While at this "park" we also spotted a mongoose and several feral cats. Apparently Hawaii has a problem with these poor animals who now must fend for themselves all over the island.
When walking the circle trail to Akaka and Kahuna Falls, you can't help but notice the contrast of landscape here. The northwestern part of the Big Island hosts its own lush, verdant rainforest versus the southwestern coast where seemingly endless lava flows of past eruptions cover miles of ground. Of course roads have been cut into both areas making these geographical landscape wonders available for all of us to see.
Notice in the accompanying picture the stand of bamboo and the enormous size of the bamboo trunks that cradle a waterfall. As beautiful as both large falls were, the vegetation and many small, rocky waterfalls were amazing sights too.
This place is great. Pure, untouched beauty and tranquility interrupted only by the sound of water. It’s a very short, 20-minute, walk on a paved path that runs through the green foliage and views on the cliffs “painted” by flowers and shrubs. I could search for special words to describe the beauty of the place, but I doubt they exist at all.
On your way to the waterfall you will spot a giant banyan tree, its trunk is so huge that even a wide-angle camera won’t be able to capture it all in one picture. The path, although slippery at times, is very short and the walk is very comfy and pleasant.
The waterfall itself is really stunning, running down the cliff of the abundant jungle and makes you wonder what it would be like hiking on the other side of the gorge.
The parking lot is an attraction two, because it offers some of most beautiful views in the area, I actually made some very good pictures from there.
Make this 30-minutes stop, you’ll enjoy it tremendously.
Rainbow Falls, just outside of Hilo on the road towards Mauna Kea, is not just an beatuful waterfall -- though it certainly is that. It also marks the point on the island where land created by Mauna Kea meets land created by Mauna Loa. That's why they call it rainbow falls, right?
Okay, since we went in the afternoon, the falls themselves were in the shade, which precluded any chance for us to see any rainbows that might exist. For a better photo opportunity and the possible rainbow view, try to drop by the Falls in the morning.
North of Hilo is a tall waterfall known as Akaka Falls that is definitely worth seeing if you're in the area and have the time. Located in a beautiful, florid preserve, the Akaka Falls State Park actually has two major chutes -- one far in the distance that is less spectacular (so I can't remember its name) and the very impressive, power epynomous falls themselves. The foliage in the area is tropical rainforest, allowing for a beautiful if humid stroll among banyan trees, vines and flowers. It's definitely worth the 30-50 minute diversion.
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