Top 7 Big Island Hawaii Waterfalls You Should Visit

Wondering where to find the most beautiful places on the Big Island of Hawaii? Check out these 7 best Big Island Hawaii waterfalls that are absolutely stunning, keep scrolling down for all the info!
This Big Island Hawaii waterfalls post was originally published December 14, 2019 and was updated November 7, 2021 and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Are you traveling to the Big Island of Hawaii?

Compared to Oahu or Maui, the Big Island of Hawaii is massive! It’s 93 miles across and has all sorts of terrain and natural wonders.

The Big Island of Hawaii offers so much for visitors with its lush rainforests and volcanic landscapes. It’s the largest island in the Hawaiian archipelago and has some of the most popular waterfalls in all of Hawaii!

If you are looking for an adventure or just want to relax on your vacation, these seven waterfalls will not disappoint. They are amazing natural wonders that should definitely be on your list of things to do while visiting this tropical paradise!

While there are gorgeous waterfalls on Kauai, Oahu, and Maui, the Big Island has some of the most famous waterfalls in Hawaii. Several are featured in popular Hawaiian songs.

These 7 Big Island waterfalls are truly spectacular and well worth checking out during your stay here! Don’t miss them because once you see them, you’ll never forget them!

Keep scrolling for the best waterfalls on the Big Island and discover why people love coming back again and again to this magical island destination.

First trip to the Big Island? Read THIS first!

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting the Big Island.

Popular Big Island Tours/Activities

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Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Big Island Itinerary complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.

Big Island Waterfalls FAQs

Can you swim at Akaka Falls?

No, swimming at Akaka Falls is no longer allowed.

Can you swim at Rainbow Falls in Hilo?

It’s illegal to swim at Rainbow Falls.

What’s the largest waterfall in Hawaii?

You’ll find the largest waterfall in Hawaii on the secluded island of Molokai. Olo’upena Falls is an impressive 2,953-foot Hawaiian waterfall.

Top 7 Big Island Hawaii Waterfalls you Should Visit featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids

Most Beautiful Big Island Hawaii Waterfalls

There are tons of gorgeous waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii. Here are a few top picks that are worth checking out!

Hi’ilawe Falls

Hi’ilawe Falls is located on the Big Island. To be exact, you can visit Hi’ilawe Falls by going to the Waipio Valley at the Kohala Coast in Hawaii.

Hi'ilawe Falls is one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii. Image of a tall skinny waterfall surrounded by palm trees and greenery.
Hi’ilawe Falls in the Waipio Valley.

It’s an impressive 1,450-foot natural waterfall with a main drop of 1,201 feet. It’s one of the tallest and most powerful waterfalls in Hawaii, although it gets a bit dry around March. Nonetheless, it’s still a breathtaking sight to see.

It takes about 60 to 90 minutes to hike to the waterfall. It’s not a difficult hike to get to the foot of the waterfall, so you won’t need any special gear to visit this beautiful waterfall.

Hi’ilawe Falls is one of the top Big Island waterfall hikes to do.

‘Akaka Falls

‘Akaka Falls is located inside the ‘Akaka Falls State Park in Hawaii. The state park is located along the northeastern Hilo Coast, west of Honomü. It’s a 422-foot natural waterfall.

Top 7 Big Island Hawaii Waterfalls you Should Visit featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Akaka Falls is one of the largest Big Island waterfalls
Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman

You can follow an uphill path towards the waterfall, which is about half a mile long. It will take you about an hour to reach the end of the path, which is lined with lush greenery and beautiful scenery.

Before you get to ‘Akaka Falls, you can also visit Kahuna Falls inside the state park. It’s a 100-foot waterfall that you’ll pass by on your way to ‘Akaka if you follow the footpath.

These are gorgeous Hawaii Big Island waterfalls worth checking out. And if you’re heading to Akaka Falls with kids, check out my guide HERE.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls, or Waiānuenue, is located inside the Wailuku River State Park in Hilo, Hawaii. This is one of the most famous waterfalls on the Big Island.

The waterfall got its name from the rainbow that often forms at the base. Its location allows the sun to hit the water at just the perfect angle.

If you visit when the sky is clear and the sun is out, you’ll be able to see a beautiful rainbow at the foot of the waterfall.

Top 7 Big Island Hawaii Waterfalls you Should Visit featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Rainbow Falls is one of the most popular Big Island waterfalls
Rainbow Falls in Hilo.

It’s only 80-foot-tall but it’s still a beautiful natural feature with gushing water all year-round and a large pool below.

While visiting the Wailuku River State Park, you can also stop by the Pe’epe’e Falls.

Umauma Falls

Umauma Falls is located on the Big Island in Hawaii. To be exact, you can find it along the Umauma River in Hakalau.

Umauma Falls on the Big Island of Hawaii
Umauma Falls on the Big Island.

It is comprised of three short waterfalls that are located close to each other—the water actually cascades down this series of waterfalls from the river.

You can view all three of them from an overlook that you can access via a private botanical garden. However, you need to pay a fee to be able to access the viewing deck.

Alternatively, you can zipline or rappel at the Umauma Falls. There are other adventurous activities that you can enjoy here too.

Nanue Falls

Nanue Falls is located on the Hamakua Coast in Hawaii. It’s one of the quietest and least touristy waterfalls on the island, so you can enjoy a chill day with your friends when you visit.

In fact, some still consider it a secret or hidden spot on the island even though it has been featured in several magazines and TV shows.

It will take you about two hours to hike to Nanue Falls, but the path isn’t too hard to walk on so you’ll be fine. You can access the waterfall for free and it’s one of the best Big Island hikes.

Just make sure to leave this waterfall in Hawaii as clean as you found it.

Onomea Falls

Onomea Falls is located along the Hamakua Coast in Hawaii. It’s easily accessible and it will only take you about half an hour to get here.

Top 7 Big Island Hawaii Waterfalls you Should Visit featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Onomea Falls on the Big Island
The Onomea waterfall in the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden

However, to visit Onomea Falls, you need to go through the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden and pay an entrance fee. It is located inside the private property and there’s no other way to access it.

The good news is, while you’re inside the botanical garden, you’ll be able to see the beautiful flora and fauna species that are native to Hawaii. You’ll also pass by Boulder Creek on your way to the falls, which is a gorgeous sight to see.

Kulaniapia Falls

Kulaniapia Falls is located inside a 42-acre private property in Hilo, Hawaii. To be able to visit the waterfall, you can book a guest room at The Inn or book one of the Experience Packages available at the property.

Top 7 Big Island Hawaii Waterfalls you Should Visit featured by top Hawaii blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Kulaniapia Falls on the Big Island of Hawaii
Photo credit: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA) / Heather Goodman

The package can include waterfall rappelling, which is the best way to experience Kulaniapia. You’ll be able to get up close and personal with this body of water and have the most memorable time in Hawaii.

If you already have accommodations, water rappelling can also be booked by the general public. The property offers helicopter, lava tube exploration, stargazing, and lava encounter tours as well.

Big Island Waterfall Tours

While you can access most of these on your own, you can also join Hawaii waterfall tours for a more personalized experience.

Waipio Valley and Waterfalls Adventure

If you don’t want to search out the waterfalls on your own, this might be the right tour for you. You’ll be able to see 3 of the most famous Big Island waterfalls (Akaka Falls, Hi’ilawe Falls, and Rainbow Falls) on a half-day tour. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Plus. you’ll get to taste seasonal fruit and macadamia nuts, swim at private waterfalls, and enjoy local food for lunch. Sign up for this discounted Waipio Valley and Waterfalls Adventure.

Majestic Waterfalls Tour

The Hamakua Coast is beautiful and this half-day waterfall tour will stop at Akaka Falls State Park, Rainbow Falls, and Richardson Beach Park. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Plus, you’ll keep an eye out for Hawaiian Green Sea Turtles and stop at Big Island Candies for the most famous Hawaiian candy on the Big Island. Sign up for this discounted Majestic Waterfalls Tour.

Deluxe ATV Waterfall and Swim Experience

For the adventurous, go off-roading on the Big Island’s Hamakua Coast in a Honda ATV or a Side x Side UTV. Check out the latest prices and more details.

Enjoy spectacular views of Mauna Kea and the Pacific Ocean, awesome photo spots, swim in a private pond and really experience off-road Hawaii. Get your discounted ATV Waterfall and Swim Experience.

Historic Hilo Bay Waterfalls by Kayak

If ATVing is a bit too adventurous for you, try this tranquil kayaking tour that starts in Hilo town and takes you past hidden waterfalls. Check out the latest prices and more details.

You’ll get to hear a bit about the history of Coconut Island (it will totally surprise you) as you paddle around Hilo Bay.

And be sure to keep your eyes out for sea turtles, which are known to hang out in this area!

This is for kids at least 5 years old who can comfortably stay in a kayak. Get your discounted Hilo Bay Kayaking Tickets.

Kohala Waterfalls Small Group Adventure Tour

Take a full-day waterfall adventure tour of the Big Island’s Kohala Coast. You’ll start off driving up the Kona coastline pas lava flows and check out sweeping views from the old Kohala Mule Station lookout. Check out the latest prices and more details.

You’ll experience 7 incredible Kohala waterfalls plus a picnic lunch. Sign up for this discounted Kohala Waterfalls Adventure Tour.

Legends of the Waterfalls & Volcano Full-Day Tour

If you’re staying in Hilo and enjoy learning about history, you might get a kick out of this Legends of the Waterfalls tour where you’ll learn why Hilo was one of the favorite places for Kamehameha the Great. Check out the latest prices and more details.

You’ll get to play in the ocean, explore a tidepool, and see Rainbow Falls. Sign up for this discounted Legends of the Waterfalls & Volcano Tour.

Waterfalls of Kohala

There may be no better way to experience Hawaiian waterfalls than with a helicopter tour. Check out the latest prices and more details.

This one has amazing views of the Kohala Coast while listening to fascinating commentary from the pilot. You’ll see places on the Big Island only accessible by air. Get your discounted Waterfalls of Kohala Tour.

Big Island Kohala Zip and Dip Tour from Kona

If you are staying in Kona, meet up with a local driver who takes you to North Kohala. Here, you’ll zipline across the forest, have lunch in the Pololu Valley, and even swim in a Big Island waterfall. This is awesome for those not renting a car. Find the best prices here.

This is a full-day trip from Kona. Get your discounted Kohala Tour from Kona Tour.

Magical Waterfall Tour

This air tour hits up the 7 Kohala waterfalls from the Kona airport. First, you’ll head to the Kohala Mountains where you’ll fly the coastline of Waipio Valley and Waimanu Valley.

This is a great way to see some of the tallest waterfalls in Hawaii. Get your discounted Magical Waterfall Tour.

Waterfalls on the Big Island Wrap Up

Now you know some of the best waterfalls Big Island has to offer. While there aren’t really Kona waterfalls, you see tons of waterfalls in Hilo.

And these are just the most popular waterfalls on Big Island. You can see all sorts of hidden waterfalls if you go kayaking, take a boat tour, or ride in a helicopter.

Looking for more Big Island travel resources? Find out the best Big Island luaus, my guide to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, and whether you should stay in Kona or Hilo.