15 In Hawaii/ Hiking + The Outdoors/ Travel

Rainbow Falls – The Big Island, Hawai’i

Rainbow Falls is in Wailuku River State Park near Hilo. Matt and I saw a sign for this waterfall and decided we needed to make a stop here early in the morning. Rainbow Falls gets its name from the way that mist catches the early morning light can make rainbows! Unfortunately, even though we went early in the morning, the light wasn’t on our side.

Since we didn’t do much research, we found out after coming home that there is more to see and do in this park than we saw did. On the outskirts of Hilo you can find a parking area for Rainbow Falls. There’s a short paved path to the left that takes you up to the top of the falls where you can watch them flow over.

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Looking back  down the river from the top of the falls. 

I personally think that the best view is just up from the parking lot, on the level ground. There is a viewing area to the right that’s raised, but the view from below that is just phenomenal.


This 80-foot double waterfall flows over a natural lava cave that was the legendary home of Hina, the mother of the demigoddess Maui. There was a battle that took place here when a lizard god, Kuna, fell in love with the mother and tried to take the home from her when she didn’t share the same affections. In the end Maui steps in to help her mother and calls upon Pele, the volcano goddess, to help her find Kuna who was hiding in the deep pools above the falls. Pele brought lava down to boil the pools to make Kuna flee so that Maui could kill him.

Obviously, that is a very simplified version, but you can read a longer version of it here. I read about it on the signs at the State Park.



I should’ve known from the story that there would, of course, be more to this state park, but I didn’t know. So, I missed out on seeing the boiling pots, which I heard that people sometimes will swim in, and even jump from one to the other, but obviously you don’t want to get too close to the top of the falls.  Then, even further up from the boiling pots is Pe’epe’e Falls. Although I’m disappointed that I missed seeing these beautiful sites of this state park, I always tell myself that when I miss something it simply leaves more to see the next time.

Have you been to Wailuku River State Park? Did you make it further up the river? I would love to hear more and see some of your photos!

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Rainbow Falls

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  • Reply
    Megan Indoe
    July 28, 2016 at 12:45 am

    I love how it looks like two waterfalls are running into one! I hope to visit Big Island one day! Your photos are giving me a serious case of wanderlust!

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 28, 2016 at 9:21 am

      Thanks Megan! It’s definitely a must-see on the Big Island. But then again, I feel like everything I saw I wouldn’t have wanted to miss! haha

  • Reply
    July 28, 2016 at 2:07 am

    What a beautiful spot! There is nothing better than putting on your hiking boots and getting out into the fresh air. Great pictures too!

  • Reply
    Shayan Naveed (@ShayanBkk)
    July 28, 2016 at 3:30 am

    What a paradisiacal place but I hate it when the weather isn’t on your side, right?
    Research is definitely important because nothing sucks more than realizing you missed something, especially if the place is really far and who knows when you can return.

    Beautiful photos nonetheless.

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 28, 2016 at 9:25 am

      Weather definitely helps, especially in Hawai’i since it rained on us every day, we just made the most of the good, and even the rain. I do hate it when I miss something, but I have to tell myself that I’ll make it back rather than beat myself up over missing something from a spontaneous stop, ya know?
      Thank you!

  • Reply
    July 28, 2016 at 6:55 am

    Ahh I loveeee waterfalls! That one looks so magical! Is there a way to the bottom of it?

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 28, 2016 at 9:31 am

      There isn’t a marked path down, and there are signs warning against swimming in it. Not too far from here the river flows into the ocean, and they say it’s dangerous to swim in those currents.

  • Reply
    The Soul of Seoul
    July 28, 2016 at 7:58 am

    It does definitely leave more to see next time. I commented on your last Big Island post, and I’m here again… Next time we go, we’re definitely staying in Hilo. You’ve given me so much to plan to see. ^^

    • Reply
      Paige Wunder
      July 28, 2016 at 9:33 am

      Haha! I take that as a compliment! I’m so happy with our decision to stay in Hilo! There’s so much natural beauty in this rainforest section of the island!

  • Reply
    Sarah from Tales From a Fork
    July 28, 2016 at 8:07 am

    Wow I’d love to go here! Maybe another time you can go back to see the boiling pots? This park seems insane!

  • Reply
    Paige Wunder
    July 28, 2016 at 9:34 am

    That’s the plan; I’m hoping that we make it back soon! Thanks for commenting!

  • Reply
    Hung Thai [Up Up and a Bear]
    July 29, 2016 at 12:21 am

    Very cool waterfalls, but I didn’t see anyone swimming in there? Is this a place you can swim in or is it just for looks?

  • Reply
    *Nina Zara* (@Safari_junkie_)
    July 29, 2016 at 1:39 am

    Waterfalls look very inviting for swimming! I would probably throw myself in immediately:)

  • Reply
    Eva Casey
    July 29, 2016 at 9:08 am

    What a beautiful falls! That’s definitely one of the most unique looking waterfalls I’ve seen.

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