Two-Tier Wai’ale Falls Near Hilo, Hawaii

View From Bridge of Wai'ale Falls

Okay. We thought that we were really wet after exploring Rainbow Falls and the giant Banyan Trees, but that wasn’t anything compared to how wet our clothes were after standing on the Boiling Pots viewing platform in the rain checking out Pe’epe’e Falls and the cascading pools below. You’d think we’d be uncomfortable because our clothes were soaked, but it was the exact opposite. We were having a blast and cracking up almost the entire time! I know none of us will forget this experience!

Before heading on to our next activity, Kaumana Caves State Park, I wanted to check out one more Big Island Waterfall in Hilo, mainly because it is really close to Boiling Pots and you can see it from the road — no hiking required.

Wai’ale Falls

Wai’ale Falls sits upriver from both Pe’epe’e Falls and Rainbow Falls on the Wailuku River.

The waterfall is actually two waterfalls:

  • The upper tier of Wai’ale Falls naturally flows over a lava cliff into a pool below.
  • The lower tier of Wai’ale Falls is created by a man-made wall, almost like a dam of some kind, that has been built beneath the falls.

The best part of this waterfall experience is that it’s viewable right from the road! This family adventure stop only lasted about 10 minutes, but we were able to see one more gorgeous waterfall on our Hawaiian family vacation!

For those a little more adventurous (or visiting when it’s not raining), there is a quarter-mile, out and back trail to the top of Wai’ale Falls that begins on the north side of the river next to the bridge. The hike takes about 20 minutes and will lead you to the top of the falls.

The trail was completely overgrown, it was raining and muddy, and because we were all in tank tops, flip flops, and shorts, we decided to skip this short hike.

I know some people hike in and try to swim in the waterfall plunge pool, but even if we did the hike, we wouldn’t be doing that! Several people have died while swimming here due to flash floods and being swept away by the river. That kind of risk just isn’t worth it, so we were content to enjoy the beauty of this Big Island waterfall from the bridge.

Know Before You Go

  • Wai’ale Falls is located on Waianuenue Avenue, Hilo, Hawaii 96720. It sits just upriver from Rainbow Falls and Boiling Pots and Pe’epe’e Falls on the Wailuku River in the Wailuku River State Park.
  • The best place to view Wai’ale Falls is from a bridge on Waianuenue Avenue. Park on either side of the bridge and walk on the sidewalk to the center of the bridge to see an unobstructed view of the falls.
  • There is also an overgrown quarter-mile trail to Wai’ale Falls. The trailhead is on the north side of the river and it’s so overgrown it’s hard to make out. The hike takes about 20 minutes and leads to the top of the waterfall and a little further to another small waterfall.
  • If you’re going to hike the trail, be sure to wear sturdy shoes, pants, and long sleeves. If you don’t, the overgrown brush will scratch your arms and legs up!

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