The Big Island of Hawaii offers so much more than gorgeous, white sand beaches and relaxing shady spots under palms trees. We spent our first few days on Hawai’i Island visiting coffee farms and historic sites on the Kona Coast, and hiking, exploring, and snorkeling along the Kohala Coast. Next up was a drive across the island to Hilo to check out several waterfalls.
Unfortunately, it was a gray, cloudy, dark day and it rained big time. Now we could have called it a day, relaxed at our incredible hotel the Hilton Waikoloa Village, and avoided the rain, but that’s not what we did. We decided to go for it and do all of the adventures we had planned in the rain and we got soaked from head to toe. We were wet almost all day, but it actually made the day even more fun!
Next, we headed north out of Hilo for ‘Akaka Falls State Park.
Visiting ‘Akaka Falls State Park
‘Akaka Falls State Park has two beautiful waterfalls, the cascading Kahuna Falls and plunging ‘Akaka Falls. Following the 0.4 mile ʻAkaka Falls Loop Trail, you can see both Kahuna Falls and ‘Akaka Falls along with lush tropical vegetation and scenic vista points.
The trailhead for the stunning ʻAkaka Falls Loop Trail is immediately off the parking lot. While the trail is a short, paved loop, it is not accessible due to several sets of stairs.
- If you’re looking for a quick out-and-back walk to ‘Akaka Falls, at the first fork, follow the trail to the left. ‘Akaka Falls is just a short walk down the path.
- If you want to see both Kahuna Falls and ‘Akaka Falls, at the first fork, follow the trail to the right. The 0.4 mile trail will take you through a gorgeous canyon, first past the smaller Kahuna Falls and then past the spectacular ‘Akaka Falls, and to several scenic viewpoints.
It was lightly sprinkling when we arrived, so we chose to do the whole 0.4 mile loop trail to see both Kahuna Falls and ‘Akaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge. The walk along the trail definitely requires a bit of effort, but it is absolutely gorgeous. The entire trail is surrounded by lush, green tropical plants, brightly-colored flowers, trees with huge leaves, and a babbling, flowing stream.
By the time we reached Kahuna Falls, which is partially obscured by vegetation, the rain picked up big time and we all were soaked and laughing at the craziness of our day! We could hear ‘Akaka Falls before we could see it, then as we got closer, we caught a few glimpses of the majestic waterfall through the trees and plants before reaching the official overlook and a covered viewing area!
We first took some refuge under the cover out of the rain while another group snapped photos. Then we grabbed a few photos of the incredible 442 foot waterfall. The light wasn’t great for photography, but we got a few good ones and every time we look at them now, we’re reminded of the rainy hike, how wet we were, how gorgeous the waterfalls were and just how much fun we had!
Know Before You Go
- ‘Akaka Falls State Park, along the northeastern Hamakua Coast, is located 3.6 miles southwest of Honomu and 11 miles north of Hilo off Hawaii Belt Road at the end of ‘Akaka Falls Road (Hawaii Route 220) at 875 Akaka Falls Road, Honomu, Hawaii 96728.
- This Big Island state park is home to two majestic waterfalls, one of which plunges 422 feet into a gorge below.
- The park is open to walk-ins between sunrise and sunset and the parking area is open from 8:30 am to 6:00 pm.
- At the parking area, you’ll find restrooms and a water fountain.
- The admission fee is $5.00 per car or $1.00 per person for walk-ins.
- The ‘Akaka Falls Loop Trail is not accessible due to several sets of stairs along the 0.4 mile route.