Pe’epe’e Falls, Hawaii

On the Wailuku River, there are a number of impressive waterfalls. Rainbow Falls is definitely the most popular on the river, and you’ll see many other people there. If you continue driving along the road that runs adjacent to the river, you’ll arrive at two other waterfalls. Wai’ale Falls is easy to view, and is also pretty impressive.

Pe’epe’e Falls is an impressive waterfall, but you can only see it from a distance. There is a designated area for a geological feature known as the Boiling Pots, which I didn’t find to be particularly interesting. And from this viewing area, you can also get a glimpse of Pe’epe’e Falls. Now, there are signs that clearly indicate that you should not go beyond the fence because it’s dangerous. And I decided to heed the warnings on those signs, and I am suggesting that you follow those signs too. I would never want to hear that somebody got hurt while deciding to do something possibly dangerous because a website indicated it might be ok. So you might be able to get a better view, but realize it can start raining at any time, and it can rain intensely, and the river conditions can change dramatically. So while it looks ok now, it might not be 15 minutes from now. Use common sense, people!

Directions:

  1. The main road, Highway 11, “starts” in Hilo (though it encircles most of the island).  At mile marker 0, you begin heading west and then northwest for a ways.  Stay on the main road, which will also be called Mamalahoa Highway.
  2. After just a few miles or less, you will come to the junction of Highway 200 on your left.  Turn left onto Highway 200, also known as Waianuenue Avenue.
  3. Follow the signs to Rainbow Falls.  After stopping there, continue along Waianuenue Avenue. You’ll pass by a hospital along the way, and then enter a residential area.
  4. You’ll come to Pe’epe’e Falls Road, and turn right onto this road. This will lead directly into the parking area to view the Boiling Pots and the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (Don’t go over the fence!)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: negligible

Pe’epe’e Falls in March 2013

Where in the World is Pe’epe’e Falls?

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Kolekole Falls, Hawaii

It’s unlikely that you’ll find anybody that is solely trying to find Kolekole Falls.  It’s not particularly tall or wide, or extremely amazing.  Unless you cross the creek, which was flowing very well, you will be viewing the falls from the other side.  So why did I end up at Kolekole Falls?

Well, obviously it was a waterfall.  But the better reason is that it is not that far from the much larger ‘Akaka Falls.  It’s only about a mile further down the main road.  I was impressed with the park.  The waterfall was nice, but it was also very cool to see the bridge far above that crosses this gulch.  And as an even further bonus, you are only a few hundred feet from the ocean.  This particular park was very quiet when we visited, with only one other pair of people.  You’ll likely have most of the beach view to yourself.  It’s really worth it if you’re in the vicinity.

Directions:

  1. From Hilo, head north on HI-19.
  2. After a few miles, you will see a sign for HI-220.  This will lead to ‘Akaka Falls.  Pass HI-220.
  3. Shortly (maybe a mile or so) after passing the turn for HI-220, you will see another sign for Kolekole Beach Park.  The road to the park will be on your left if you’re coming from Hilo. (If you pass this road, you will cross the bridge over the river.)
  4. Turn left, and then proceed cautiously down the very narrow road.
  5. It’s not a very long drive, but at the halfway point, you will turn sharply right.  Slow down before attempting this!  Don’t continue straight/left, as it seems to be an older bridge.
  6. At the parking area, you should see the bridge above, the beach, and the waterfall.  It’s a spectacular combo.

Accessibility: 10/10
Height: 10′
Length of Hike: negligible

Kolekole Falls in March 2013

Where in the World is Kolekole Falls?

‘Akaka Falls, Hawaii

‘Akaka Falls in March 2013

At 442′ tall, ‘Akaka Falls is one of the tallest easy-to-visit waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii.  There are a number of taller waterfalls to the north, but they require more effort.

Driving to the falls is a rather simple endeavor, though it is a slight but worthy detour.  Parking at the falls is interesting, to say the least.  You can park near the falls, and there is a $5 fee.  There was an electronic kiosk, and standing near the kiosk was a young man collecting money…In one way, it seemed suspicious.  At the same time, visitors seemed to want to ignore the entrance fee, even with the kiosk and signs!  You can park outside of the main area.  I think there is a $1 per-person entry fee in that case.

The falls are definitely worth visiting, though it can be a little bit difficult to photograph, depending on the angle.  The sun could have caused more problems if it hadn’t been for the lucky clouds that lessened the intensity.

There are a number of other falls nearby.  Kahuna Falls is downstream.  There are one or two smaller falls that most might not notice, but I found them to be pretty enough.

Directions:

  1. From Hilo, head north on HI-19.
  2. After a few miles, turn left onto HI-220.  There is a sign indicating the turn.
  3. Head down HI-220 to what is essentially the end of the road.  You will veer right at one point.  There aren’t many other options.
  4. From the parking area, head to the falls.  The loop trail is paved, but there are some stairs, if I remember correctly.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy, if you head directly the falls without going around the loop)
Height: 442′
Length of Hike: 0.4 miles if you do the loop

A small waterfall along the trail to ‘Akaka Falls

Where in the World is ‘Akaka Falls?

Boulder Creek Falls, Hawaii

Boulder Creek Falls in March 2013

Nearly all of the waterfalls in Hawaii have Hawaiian names…except for Boulder Creek Falls, which sounds like it should be in Colorado instead. Boulder Creek Falls is not a particularly interesting waterfall, but the area surrounding it is absolutely spectacular.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden (http://www.htbg.com) is definitely worth the entry fee.  In early March, there were a plethora of different flowers in bloom. There is a much more interesting waterfall, Onomea Falls, in the gardens. Boulder Creek Falls is off in a corner, rather literally. As your walking along the pathways, there is a side-path that leads to Boulder Creek Falls. It doesn’t lead directly in front of the falls, and you will have a somewhat far-off view. The falls are maybe 15′ tall or so, but it really is difficult to get a good snapshot.

A few other notes: The first few hundred feet are along a mildly steep boardwalk. It is not particularly problematic though…Also, at certain times of the year, bug spray would definitely be appropriate. In early March, the bugs weren’t any significant problem.

Directions:

  1. The website for the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden does a very good job directing you, so the link is provided here: http://www.htbg.com/directions.html
  2. Honestly, just wander around the whole botanical garden, enjoying all of the splendor.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip

Where in the World is Boulder Creek Falls?

Rainbow Falls, Hawaii

Rainbow Falls in 2013

Rainbow Falls is the first waterfall of 2013! The Big Island of Hawaii is a study in contrasts. Part of the island is very dry, and there’s no real use hunting for waterfalls. The eastern part of the island has a number of waterfalls. Some of the waterfalls are not that easy to visit, as part of the gorges and canyons are fairly steep and inaccessible. In other cases, the waterfalls are just off the road, but there aren’t easy places to pull off. On the other hand, a few major waterfalls on the island are extremely easy to visit. Those seven or eight end up being main attractions.

Rainbow Falls is probably one of the most visited, along with ‘Akaka Falls. Within the city limits of Hilo, the drive to the falls is relatively short (if you’re already in Hilo). You may be able to find a tour company that will take you to the falls. Even though Hilo doesn’t have many super-fancy hotels, I would still suggest staying in the city, as there is a significant amount of interesting stuff nearby.

At about 80’ tall, the falls are pretty impressive. The ease of access is really what makes them worthwhile. There is also no cost to visit them, and there are two other waterfalls further upstream. If you have the chance to visit the Big Island, definitely make sure to visit Rainbow Falls.

Directions:

  1. The main road, Highway 11, “starts” in Hilo (though it encircles most of the island). At mile marker 0, you begin heading west and then northwest for a ways. Stay on the main road, which will also be called Mamalahoa Highway.
  2. After just a few miles or less, you will come to the junction of Highway 200 on your left. Turn left onto Highway 200, also known as Waianuenue Avenue.
  3. Follow the signs to Rainbow Falls. At one point, you will veer somewhat quickly to the right, continuing on Waianuenue Avenue. The parking lot is not difficult to find. The falls are right there!

Accessibility: 10/10 (I believe even handicapped accessible)
Height: 80′
Length of Hike: not applicable

Where in the World is Rainbow Falls?