Akaka Falls State Park
This Hamakua Coast area park is just 13 miles north of Hilo and has a pleasant self-guided hike through lush tropical rainforest. The State Park facilties include a paved pathway that loops along the Kolekole stream gulch featuring views of Akaka Falls plunging 442 feet, and the cascading 300 foot tall Kahuna Falls.
At a Glance:
Highlights: Tropical rainforest conditions surround incredible views of two huge waterfalls, a paved path loops through a lush plant filled landscape.
Location: Honomu, north of Hilo 13 miles.
Activity Level: Moderate, stairs and small change of elevation.
Equipment: Sturdy shoes, rain gear, water and food.
Warnings!: Stay on the trails, unfortunately there is no safe way down to the bottom of the falls from here.
Cost: No fee
Everyone wants to see a waterfall during a Hawaii visit, but they are often very remote and difficult to access. Akaka Falls State Park provides a safe hiking path accessing views of a most stunning set of waterfalls. The Kolekole stream is fueled by daily rains on the fertile upper slopes of Mauna Kea, the gulch is a testament to the power of rushing water to carve the Hawaiian landscape. Though there are no high mountain glaciers, nor reservoirs, the stream flows continuously with storm rains bringing powerful flash floods that can be viewed safely from the high ground of the park.
Where to Start:
A short hike that is easy to follow and paved for easy walking, begins at the parking lot within the park grounds. There are some informational and interpretive signs along the way, as well as restroom facilities. You will want to bring your camera along for more then just the waterfall pictures. There are tropical yellow kahili gingers flowering often, vines climbing the trees, carpets of ferns, and leaning bamboo lining the trail throughout the walk. This is a viewing waterfall only, as the steep sided gulch has no safe access to the bottom. However, the chance to breath in fresh rainforest air and stretch your legs in a stroll to waterfalls brings a great relaxing state of mind.
Makes a great rest stop if traveling between Hilo and Kona along route 19.
- From Hilo: Drive Highway 19 north of Hilo 13 miles, looking for signs for Akaka Falls Road (route 220). Follow to the end of road and look for park entrance. Approximately 35 minutes drive.
- From Kona: Drive Highway 19 north out of Kona for 87 miles, looking for Akaka Falls Road (route 220) . Turn right onto 220 and follow to the end looking for the park entrance. Approximately a 2 to 2.5 hour scenic drive.