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Best Waterfall Hike Big Island

The Big Island of Hawaii is renowned for its breathtaking waterfall hikes in Oahu. With numerous cascades scattered across the island, each offering its own unique beauty, it can be difficult to choose which waterfall hikes to embark upon. Here, we highlight some of the top waterfall hikes on the Big Island to help guide your exploration:

  1. Waimoku Falls in Haleakal National Park: Located in the expansive Haleakal National Park, Waimoku Falls is a majestic 400-foot waterfall surrounded by lush greenery and bamboo forests.
  2. Akaka Falls State Park: This state park is home to the iconic Akaka Falls, a towering waterfall that plunges 442 feet into a gorge. The park also features the scenic Kah n Falls, creating a picturesque hiking experience.
  3. Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots: Situated just outside of Hilo, Rainbow Falls is named for the rainbows that often appear in the mist. Adjacent to Rainbow Falls are the Boiling Pots, a series of pools and cascades formed by the Wailuku River.

When embarking on a waterfall hike, it’s important to keep a few key tips in mind. First and foremost, prioritize safety by being aware of your surroundings, following marked trails, and heeding any warnings or closures. choosing the right gear, such as sturdy hiking shoes and appropriate clothing, will ensure a comfortable and enjoyable experience. Staying hydrated and nourished throughout the hike is crucial, so be sure to bring plenty of water and snacks. Practicing Leave No Trace principles, such as packing out any trash and respecting the natural environment, will help preserve the beauty of these waterfall hiking destinations.

To prepare for your waterfall hiking adventure, take the time to research trail information, including difficulty level and distance, to ensure that you choose a hike that aligns with your abilities and preferences. Checking weather and trail conditions prior to your trip is essential, as heavy rainfall can impact trail safety and accessibility. Creating a hiking plan, including estimated start and end times, is recommended for safety and organization.

If capturing memories through photography is part of your waterfall hiking experience, there are a few tips to keep in mind. Optimal times for photos are typically during the golden hours of sunrise or sunset when the lighting is soft and flattering. Utilizing filters and tripods can help enhance your photos and stabilize your camera for long-exposure shots. Don’t be afraid to explore different angles and perspectives to capture the true essence and beauty of the waterfalls.

By following these tips and suggestions, you can embark on an unforgettable Shenandoah National Park waterfall hiking adventure on the Big Island while staying safe, prepared, and creating lasting memories.

Key takeaway:

  • Waterfall hiking on the Big Island offers breathtaking natural beauty: Explore stunning waterfalls such as Waimoku Falls in Haleakal National Park, Akaka Falls State Park, and Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots, immersing yourself in the awe-inspiring landscapes.
  • Stay safe and prepared while waterfall hiking: Prioritize safety through measures like practicing safety precautions, choosing appropriate gear, staying hydrated and nourished, and following Leave No Trace principles to protect the environment.
  • Capture unforgettable memories through photography: Enhance your waterfall hiking experience by taking photographs during the best times, utilizing filters and tripods to enhance the quality of your shots, and exploring different angles to capture unique perspectives of the waterfalls.

Top Waterfall Hikes on the Big Island

Embark on the ultimate adventure through the enchanting waterfalls of the Big Island. Discover the top waterfall hikes that will leave you awe-inspired and rejuvenated. Get ready to witness the majestic Waimoku Falls in Haleakal National Park, marvel at the breathtaking beauty of Akaka Falls State Park, and experience the wonder of Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots. Each sub-section will unveil a unique waterfall trek, guaranteed to immerse you in nature’s splendor. Lace up your hiking boots and prepare for an unforgettable journey into the heart of paradise.

1. Waimoku Falls in Haleakal National Park

Waimoku Falls, located within Haleakal National Park, is renowned as one of Hawaii’s highest waterfalls. Standing at an impressive height of approximately 400 feet, this natural wonder is truly a sight to behold.

To embark on the journey towards Waimoku Falls, visitors can embark on the invigorating Pipiwai Trail. This trail spans about 4 miles, offering hikers the opportunity to immerse themselves in the beauty of nature while enjoying an elevation gain of around 650 feet.

Along the way, hikers are treated to various enchanting sights such as a mesmerizing bamboo forest, a magnificent banyan tree, and smaller waterfalls. The trail also leads adventurers to the captivating Makahiku Falls.

It is important for hikers to exercise caution while traversing the trail, particularly during periods of rainfall. The path can become steep and slippery, which necessitates wearing appropriate footwear with good traction. It is highly recommended to stay on the designated trails to ensure both personal safety and the preservation of the fragile ecosystem.

Upon reaching the ultimate destination, Waimoku Falls, hikers are rewarded with a mesmerizing display of majestic beauty. The name “Waimoku” holds significance, as it translates to “Waterfall Hikes in Pa” in the Hawaiian language.


[1] Hawaii State Parks. (n.d.). Haleakal National Park. Retrieved from

[2] AllTrails. (n.d.). Pipiwai Trail to Waimoku Falls. Retrieved from

[3] Maui Guidebook. (n.d.). Pipiwai Trail. Retrieved from

[4] Hawaii State Parks. (n.d.). Hiking Safety. Retrieved from

[5] National Park Service. (n.d.). Haleakal National Park – Plan Your Visit. Retrieved from

[6] Lonely Planet. (n.d.). Waimoku Falls. Retrieved from

[7] Bishop Museum. (n.d.). Place Names of Hawai’i. Retrieved from

2. Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls State Park, located on the Big Island, is a must-visit destination for those who enjoy waterfall hiking. The star attraction of the park is Akaka Falls itself, a stunning cascade that plummets 442 feet into a ravine.

Visitors to Akaka Falls State Park must prioritize safety and adhere to park regulations in order to have an enjoyable and secure hiking experience. This means staying on designated trails at all times.

Selecting the appropriate gear is paramount for a pleasant and successful hike. Hikers should opt for durable hiking boots that can handle the sometimes rough and slippery terrain. It is also essential to bring a backpack containing water, snacks, a first aid kit, and insect repellent.

Maintaining hydration and nourishment is crucial during a hike in Akaka Falls State Park. Hikers should come prepared with an ample supply of water to prevent dehydration. Due to the humid climate, it is necessary to hydrate frequently. Packing lightweight yet nutrient-packed snacks will help sustain energy levels throughout the hike.

Preserving the natural beauty of Akaka Falls State Park is of utmost importance, and this can be achieved by following the principles of Leave No Trace. This includes proper disposal of trash, showing respect towards wildlife and vegetation, and adhering to designated paths. By practicing these principles, visitors can contribute to the creation of a sustainable hiking environment in this breathtaking park.

3. Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots

Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots is a popular destination for waterfall hiking on the Big Island. The falls, located in Hilo, Hawaii, are known for their beauty and the unique natural formations called boiling pots. Boiling pots are created when the rushing water fills basalt rock pools, creating swirling and bubbling patterns.

To fully enjoy your experience at Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots, exercise caution near the waterfalls and boiling pots. The strong currents can be dangerous, so stay on designated paths and follow safety signs or barriers.

When hiking, wear sturdy boots for traction on slippery surfaces. Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated, especially in hotter months. Pack snacks for nourishment.

To appreciate the beauty of Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots, visit in the early morning or late afternoon for favorable lighting. Bring filters and tripods to capture the cascading water and unique colors of the boiling pots. Experiment with different angles for the best shots.

Trekking to Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots is a must for anyone exploring the stunning waterfalls of the Big Island. Prioritize safety, choose the right gear, stay hydrated, and capture lifelong memories.

Important Tips for Waterfall Hiking

Embarking on a waterfall hike can be a thrilling adventure, but it’s important to be prepared. In this section, we’ll explore some crucial tips that will make your waterfall hiking experience not only safe but also enjoyable. We’ll cover essential safety precautions, selecting the right gear, staying hydrated and nourished on the trail, and the importance of following the Leave No Trace principles. So gear up, bring your sense of adventure, and let’s dive into these valuable tips for your next waterfall hiking expedition!

1. Safety Precautions

Safety Precautions

When hiking to waterfalls on the Big Island, it is important to prioritize safety. To ensure a secure and enjoyable experience, it is recommended to follow these safety precautions. Please refer to the table below for a comprehensive list:

1. Wear appropriate footwear to prevent slips and falls.
2. Bring a first aid kit with bandages, antiseptic ointment, and necessary medications.
3. Stay on marked trails to avoid getting lost or encountering dangerous terrain.
4. Be cautious of unstable rocks or slippery surfaces near waterfalls and streams. Utilize handrails or ropes when necessary.
5. Avoid climbing or standing too close to the edge of waterfalls to prevent accidents.
6. Stay aware of your surroundings and maintain clear communication with your hiking group. It is advisable to inform someone of your hiking plans.
7. Check weather conditions and bring extra layers, rain gear, and sun protection accordingly.
8. Stay hydrated by carrying an adequate amount of water and hydrating regularly.
9. It is safer to hike with a companion or in a group. Avoid hiking alone.
10. Show respect towards nature and wildlife. Do not disturb or approach animals, and be mindful of conservation efforts.

By adhering to these safety precautions, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable waterfall hiking experience on the Big Island.

2. Choosing the Right Gear

When preparing for a waterfall hiking adventure, it is crucial to consider choosing the right gear. This will not only ensure your safety but also enhance your overall experience on the trail.

Let’s begin with footwear. It’s important to opt for sturdy hiking boots or shoes with good traction. This will provide you with stability on uneven terrain and protect your feet from rocks and debris.

Moving on to clothing, dressing in layers is recommended. This allows you to adapt to changing weather conditions. Wearing moisture-wicking and quick-drying materials will keep you comfortable during physical activity. Don’t forget to bring a waterproof jacket to stay dry in case of rain.

Next, let’s talk about your backpack. It is crucial to choose a well-fitting backpack with enough capacity for all your essential items. These may include water, snacks, a first aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, and a map or compass.

Consider using trekking poles for extra stability and support, especially on slippery or steep slopes. This will greatly enhance your Yosemite waterfall hikes.

In terms of sun protection, make sure to wear a hat, sunglasses, and high SPF sunscreen. This will protect you against harmful rays during your hike.

To prevent insect bites, especially in mosquito or tick-infested areas, apply bug repellent. This will help keep annoying bugs at bay.

Bringing navigation tools is a must. Be sure to have a map or guidebook of the trail, along with a compass or GPS device. This will help you stay on track and navigate through the waterfall hikes near Charlottesville.

Don’t forget to stay hydrated by carrying enough water and pack energy-rich snacks for the waterfall hike. This will keep your energy levels up throughout the adventure.

It’s essential to prepare a basic first aid kit. Include bandages, pain relievers, antiseptic wipes, and any personal medications you may need.

Always remember, the right gear is crucial for a successful hiking experience. It will ensure your safety and comfort on the trail. Before your hike, assess the specific requirements of the trail you have chosen and adjust your gear accordingly.

3. Staying Hydrated and Nourished

When hiking to a waterfall, it’s crucial to stay hydrated and nourished for a safe and enjoyable experience. Follow these steps:

  1. Bring at least 2 liters of water per person for a day of hiking to prevent dehydration and fatigue.
  2. Pack lightweight, high-energy snacks like nuts, dried fruit, energy bars, or trail mix for sustained energy.
  3. Drink water regularly throughout the hike, even if you’re not thirsty, to maintain hydration levels.
  4. Consider bringing electrolyte-rich drinks or supplements for extended hikes or hot weather.
  5. If your hike extends over mealtime, pack a nutritious meal or choose lightweight options like sandwiches, wraps, or energy bars.
  6. Take short breaks every hour or so to rest, have a snack, and drink water.

During a waterfall hiking trip, my friends and I forgot to stay hydrated and nourished due to our excitement about the scenery. As the day progressed, we felt weak and lightheaded. Fortunately, a fellow hiker offered us water and energy bars, serving as a wake-up call to prioritize our hydration and nutrition needs while exploring nature. Since then, we always make sure to pack enough water and snacks for our hiking adventures. Staying hydrated and nourished not only keeps us energized but also enhances our overall hiking experience.

4. Following Leave No Trace Principles

Following Leave No Trace Principles is essential for preserving the natural beauty and ecosystem of waterfall hiking areas. Here are the steps to follow:

1. Stay on designated trails to avoid disturbing wildlife habitats and trampling vegetation.

2. Pack out all trash, including food wrappers and biodegradable items like banana peels.

3. Dispose of human waste in designated bathrooms or pack it out in a sealable bag.

4. Respect wildlife by observing from a distance, not feeding them, and not disturbing their natural behavior.

5. Avoid damaging or removing natural features like rocks, plants, or branches.

6. Minimize campfire impact by using established fire rings, using only dead and downed wood, and fully extinguishing fires.

7. Be considerate of other hikers by keeping noise levels low and yielding to uphill hikers.

8. Follow any additional regulations specific to the area, such as permits or restrictions on camping or swimming.

By following these principles, you can ensure that future hikers can enjoy the waterfalls and surrounding nature. Our actions impact the environment, so practicing these principles helps preserve these natural wonders for future generations.

Preparing for Your Waterfall Hiking Adventure

Preparing for a waterfall hiking adventure? Let me guide you through the essentials. First, we’ll dive into researching trail information to find the perfect route. Then, we’ll tackle checking weather and trail conditions, so you’re well-prepared for any surprises. We’ll cover creating a hiking plan that ensures safety and maximizes your enjoyment. Get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey amidst nature’s captivating beauty!

1. Researching Trail Information

Researching trail information is essential before embarking on a waterfall hiking adventure. To ensure a safe and enjoyable experience, it is important to follow these steps:

  • Thoroughly research the specific waterfall trail you intend to hike. It is recommended to refer to reliable sources such as official park websites or hiking guidebooks, as they provide comprehensive details on distance, difficulty level, and any potential hazards or restrictions.
  • Read reviews or personal accounts from fellow hikers who have previously completed the trail. These insights can give you an understanding of the trail’s conditions, scenic viewpoints, and challenges you may encounter.
  • Pay close attention to the elevation gain and terrain of the trail. This will help you assess the required physical fitness and ensure that it aligns with your capabilities.
  • Check if there are any necessary fees or permits required to access the trail. Some popular waterfall trails may have limited access or require advance reservations.
  • Note any time restrictions, including opening and closing hours or designated times for swimming or visiting the waterfall. It is crucial to respect park regulations and prioritize safety.
  • By conducting thorough research on trail information, you will be well-prepared for your waterfall hiking adventure. You will have knowledge of the trail’s characteristics, safety measures, and any additional requirements. Remember, proper planning is key to a successful and enjoyable hiking experience.

    2. Checking Weather and Trail Conditions

    When hiking to waterfalls, it is important to check the weather and trail conditions for a safe and enjoyable experience. Here are some important factors to consider:

    1. Current weather conditions: Check the forecast for rainfall and any severe weather warnings that could affect your hike.

    2. Trail conditions: Research the condition of the trail you plan to hike, including closures, construction, and potential challenges after heavy rains.

    3. Water levels: Verify water levels before crossing streams or rivers, especially after heavy rainfall. Postpone your hike if water levels are dangerously high.

    4. Trail maintenance: Find out if the trail requires maintenance or has temporary closures that could impact your hike.

    5. Local regulations: Research any regulations or permit requirements set by local authorities for waterfall hiking.

    Taking the time to check the weather and trail conditions will help you prepare for your waterfall hiking adventure and ensure a safe and enjoyable experience on the Big Island.

    3. Creating a Hiking Plan

    Creating a hiking plan is essential for a successful and safe waterfall hiking adventure on the Big Island. Follow these steps to ensure preparation:

    1. Research trail information: Gather details about the waterfall hike you plan to embark on. Learn the trail length, difficulty level, elevation gain, and any noteworthy landmarks or points of interest.

    2. Check weather and trail conditions: Before setting off, check the weather forecast and trail status. Consider factors like rainfall, potential flash floods, or trail closures.

    3. Evaluate fitness level and hiking experience: Assess your physical fitness and experience to determine if the chosen waterfall hike in Kauai matches your capabilities. Choose a trail suitable for your fitness level to avoid danger.

    4. Plan time and pace: Estimate the hike’s duration based on trail length and difficulty. Consider your pace and plan breaks for resting, enjoying the scenery, and taking photos.

    5. Pack essentials: Prepare your backpack with water, snacks, a first aid kit, sunscreen, insect repellent, and suitable clothing and footwear. Consider bringing a map or GPS device.

    6. Inform someone of your plans: Before heading out, share your hiking plans with a trusted friend or family member. Provide details about the trail, duration, and expected return time.

    7. Stay on designated trail: Follow the marked path and adhere to posted signs or instructions. Avoid shortcuts or venturing off the trail to protect yourself and the environment.

    8. Prioritize safety: Stay hydrated, take breaks, and listen to your body. Reassess the situation if you encounter hazards or difficulties.

    By carefully creating a hiking plan and considering these factors, you can have an enjoyable and safe waterfall hiking experience on the Big Island.

    Capturing Memories: Photography Tips for Waterfall Hiking

    Capturing Memories: Photography Tips for Waterfall Hiking - Best Waterfall Hike Big Island

    Photo Credits: Jasonexplorer.Com by Ralph Wilson

    When it comes to capturing memories on a waterfall hike, photography plays a crucial role. In this section, we’ll uncover some photography tips that will take your waterfall hiking experience to the next level. Get ready to discover the best times for breathtaking photos, unlock the potential of filters and tripods, and learn how exploring different angles can add a unique perspective to your shots. Let’s dive in and elevate your waterfall photography game!

    1. Best Times for Photos

    The best times for photos of waterfalls on the Big Island vary depending on lighting conditions and weather. Choose the right time for optimal lighting and to showcase the beauty of the waterfalls. Here is a table outlining the recommended times for photos:

    Waterfall Best Time for Photos
    Waimoku Falls in Haleakal National Park Early morning or late afternoon
    Akaka Falls State Park Morning or late afternoon
    Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots Early morning or evening

    During the best times for photos, such as the early morning and late afternoon, soft sunlight creates a warm glow on the waterfalls, enhancing the colors and bringing out the details of the cascading water. Avoiding the harsh midday sun is important as it can create harsh shadows and wash out the colors of the waterfalls.

    Consider visiting the waterfalls during different seasons. The lush green foliage and higher water flow during the rainy season add an extra layer of beauty to the photos. Be prepared for more challenging hiking conditions and the possibility of rain.

    By planning your waterfall hikes and photography sessions during the best times for photos, you can capture breathtaking images that showcase the natural beauty of the Big Island’s waterfalls.

    2. Utilizing Filters and Tripods

    During my recent waterfall hiking adventure, I had the opportunity to utilize filters and tripods to enhance the quality of my photographs. By carefully selecting the appropriate filter for my camera lens based on the lighting conditions and desired effect, I was able to reduce glare and enhance the colors of the waterfall. Adding a neutral density filter enabled me to control the light for long exposure shots, creating a mesmerizing effect with the flowing water.

    To ensure stability and steady shots, I set up a sturdy tripod on stable ground. I made sure it was level and adjusted the height for the best composition. Attaching my camera securely to the tripod head minimized any potential camera shake, resulting in sharp and crisp images.

    Taking the time to compose my shots, I considered the position of the waterfall and the surrounding elements to capture the beauty as accurately as possible. Using manual mode, I adjusted the aperture, shutter speed, and ISO to suit the lighting conditions and desired effect.

    To further minimize camera shake, I either used a remote shutter release or set a timer. This allowed me to capture multiple exposures, ensuring I captured a range of highlights and shadows.

    After capturing the shots, I reviewed the results on my camera’s screen and made any necessary adjustments to optimize the final images. It was truly gratifying to see the breathtaking results and know that I had successfully captured the magnificence of the waterfall.

    Throughout the entire process, I couldn’t help but appreciate the beauty of the waterfall and the joy of capturing such stunning photographs. Utilizing filters and tripods truly enhanced my experience and allowed me to create images that I am proud to share with others.

    3. Exploring Different Angles

    When it comes to waterfall hiking, one of the key elements to capturing unique and captivating photographs is to explore different angles. By following these steps, you can enhance your photography skills and create stunning images:

    1. Choose your vantage point: Take the time to search for various perspectives and angles to photograph the waterfall. This can involve getting up close to the base, shooting from an elevated position, or finding a spot that offers a distinct viewpoint.

    2. Experiment with composition: Don’t be afraid to play around with the composition of your shots. Try placing the waterfall off-center or incorporating other elements such as rocks, trees, or natural features into the frame.

    3. Use different lenses: Explore the use of different lenses to achieve varying effects. For example, a wide-angle lens can capture the entire scene and emphasize the scale of the waterfall, while a telephoto lens can compress the perspective to provide a more intimate view.

    4. Consider the lighting conditions: Keep in mind that lighting has a significant impact on the overall look and feel of your photographs. Take advantage of the golden hour, which occurs during the hour before sunset or after sunrise, to capture warm and soft light. You can experiment with backlit shots or long exposures to achieve a dreamy effect.

    5. Play with shutter speed: Adjusting the shutter speed allows you to create different effects when photographing waterfalls. A faster shutter speed can freeze the motion of the water, capturing individual droplets. On the other hand, a slower shutter speed can create a silky smooth effect that highlights the movement and flow of the water.

    By incorporating these techniques and continuously exploring different angles, you can elevate your waterfall photography and capture breathtaking images during your hiking adventures.

    Frequently Asked Questions

    1. What are some of the best waterfall hikes on the Big Island?

    Some of the best waterfall hikes on the Big Island include Waipi’o Valley Waterfalls, Waimanu Valley Waterfalls, Nanue Falls, Umauma Falls, Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls, Onomea Falls, Rainbow Falls, Pe’epe’e Falls, and Wai’ale Falls.

    2. Are these waterfall hikes easily accessible?

    The accessibility of the waterfall hikes varies. Some, like Akaka Falls and Rainbow Falls, are easily accessible with paved paths and lookout areas. Others, such as Waipi’o Valley Waterfalls and Waimanu Valley Waterfalls, require more challenging hikes and may require permits or hiring shuttles.

    3. Are there any safety tips for visiting waterfalls?

    Yes, here are some safety tips for visiting waterfalls: – Be cautious of slippery rocks and uneven terrain. – Observe warning signs and follow any designated paths or viewing areas. – Avoid swimming in strong currents or near waterfall edges. – Be cautious of flash floods, especially during heavy rainfall. – Protect yourself from water-borne diseases by avoiding drinking from or swimming in stagnant pools of water.

    4. Can I visit these waterfalls as part of an organized tour?

    Yes, there are organized tours available that include visits to multiple waterfalls. Some popular tours include the Big Island Circle Tour, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park Tour, Mauna Kea Stargazing Tour, Manta Ray Snorkeling Tour, Kona ATV Tour, and Guided Hiking Tours.

    5. Are there any recommended accommodations near the waterfalls?

    Yes, some recommended accommodations near the waterfalls include Hilton Waikoloa Village, Courtyard by Marriott’s King Kamehameha Beach Hotel, and Fairmont Orchid. It is advisable to book these accommodations in advance for the best availability.

    6. What else can I do on the Big Island besides waterfall hikes?

    Besides waterfall hikes, you can enjoy activities such as visiting Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, stargazing on Mauna Kea, swimming with dolphins, taking an ATV tour, going on a manta ray snorkeling tour, exploring botanical gardens, and booking a photo shoot.

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