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Rainbow Falls near Hilo

Wailuku River State Park

Big Island, Hawai'i

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Rainbow Falls near Hilo

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  • The entrance to Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • Because it is so accessible, Rainbow Falls is always a busy spot.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • Restrooms at the parking area.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • Spectators line up at the overlook for Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • Rainbow Falls drops 80 feet into a gigantic pool.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • The stairs to the top of the falls.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • It is possible to walk around and explore above the falls, but be very careful.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • The falls are named for the prominent rainbows formed by the sun beaming through the waterfall mist.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • Swimming holes upstream from Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • Swimming holes upstream from Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
  • Swimming holes upstream from Rainbow Falls.- Rainbow Falls near Hilo
Overview + Weather
Pros: 
Big falls. Easily accessible. Free. Exploration possibilities above the falls.
Cons: 
Crowded. Rainbow only appears in specific conditions.
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Region:
Big Island, HI
Congestion: 
High
Pets allowed: 
Yes, with restrictions
Parking Pass: 
Not Required
Preferable Season(s):
Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
Current Local Weather:
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Adventure Description

Adventure Description

Team

Just a couple of miles from Hilo, the Wailuku River plunges 80 feet over a wide cave that is the mythological home of Hina, goddess of the moon, and into an enormous pool. When the light is right, especially in the mornings, bright rainbows emerge from the mist over the pool, which led the Hawaiians to name the place Waiānuenue, or "rainbow water." Over time, and especially because of its easy access, Rainbow Falls has become a must-see stop if you are in the Hilo area, though any visitor should be prepared for crowds and the fickle nature of the rainbow.

There is an obvious viewpoint that is visible from the parking area, but if you have more time to explore, it is worth heading up the stairs for views from the top of the falls. The banyon tree forest upstream from the falls is well worth a quick detour; the canopy is so thick that it will feel like dusk in there. Head toward the river to scamper along the bank and enjoy views from the top of the falls. Of course, use extreme caution and good judgment here, as that is the only thing between you and an ugly fall. Farther upstream you may see folks enjoying some of the Wailuku River's swimming holes. Swimming here has obvious risks, not least of which is the waterfall downstream, and there are no lifeguards here. That said, it isn't prohibited, and it is obviously a popular spot to cool off.

For further exploration, be sure to check out nearby Peepee Falls and Boiling Pots.

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Location + Directions

Location + Directions

Nearby Camping + Lodging

(3 within a 30 mile radius)

Nearby Adventures

(12 within a 30 mile radius)

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