Exploring Rainbow Falls: Hawaii’s Big Island Waterfall Gem

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Planning a trip to Hawaii and want to make the most of your time? Then make sure to visit Rainbow Falls – one of the most spectacular wonders on the Big Island.

It's a huge, powerful waterfall that tumbles over a steep cliffside and falls into an emerald-green pool below.

This guide provides all the information necessary to plan your perfect trip to Rainbow Falls, from the essentials you should know before visiting, the best time to visit, and more.


Rainbow Falls – Overview

Rainbow Falls is a natural wonder located within Hilo town and it's easy to get there. 

The towering waterfall, which sits at a height of 80 feet, fall down the rocks, creating a mesmerizing spectacle that fills your senses with awe and wonder.

This stunning natural formation is surrounded by breathtaking scenic beauty, making it a perfect spot for short climbing to the summit, exploring, or just relaxing among the nature. 

Where is Rainbow Falls?

The stunning Rainbow Falls are a well-known natural attraction in Hilo town, on the Big Island of Hawaii.

Located within the Wailuku river, they offer a spectacular experience for visitors of any age. 

How to Get to Rainbow Falls?

These falls are easily accessible and located just a short drive from downtown Hilo.

There's a big parking lot, you can explore the beautiful of these falls at their leisure.

If you plan your visit early in the day, you're more likely to see a breathtaking rainbow above the stunning falls.

Spend as little as 30 minutes or up to an hour to experience in the beauty of Rainbow Falls, and experience one of nature's most magnificent gifts.

Why is Rainbow Falls Famous? 

Its cascading waters tumble down from a height of over 80 feet, creating a spray that dances in the sunlight.

At certain times of the day, the mist catches the light at such an angle that the mist reflects hues of blue, green, and, of course, you will see the rainbow. 

What is the Best Time to See Rainbow Falls? 

To see rainbows while looking at the falls, you'll need to position yourself east of the falls, with your back towards the source of the sun. The best time to catch these colorful reflections is in the morning, on a sunny day.

Even if the falls aren't gushing with water, you're still likely to catch a glimpse of rainbows in the mist. 

Is Rainbow Falls Easy to Hike?

The hike to get there is a very easy one. As you make your way up the left shoulder of the falls, you'll be treated to the lush greenery of the surrounding vegetation, and you'll come across some massive banyan trees as well.


The Majestic Beauty of Rainbow Falls

Picture yourself standing at the edge of an impressive waterfall that towers 80 feet tall. Now imagine the water cascading down over and into a serene lake, creating an unforgettably stunning scene.

What makes this waterfall truly special is how it earned its name. As the sun rises, the mist of the falls catches the light, creating rainbows in the water's spray.

Let's discuss more details you should know before visiting.

Ancient Banyan Tree & Lava Cave

The ancient banyan tree is a marvel to behold with its gnarled roots gripping tightly onto rocky edges. Fig vines hang like delicate curtains creating an backdrop to the symphony of Rainbow Falls.

In addition, the lava cave behind the falls is a home of Hina, the revered goddess and mother of demigod Maui in Hawaiian culture.

Explore the stories and tales surrounding Goddess Hina and experience the wonder and majesty of Rainbow Falls and its surrounding treasures.

Capturing Rainbows at Rainbow Falls

To experience these stunning rainbows in all their glory, you'll need to head out early, when the morning sun is shining bright, casting light on the water droplets in the air.

This is usually around 10 AM, depending on the time of year and the weather conditions. It's magical to watch as the water droplets refract light and create a spectrum of extraordinary colors, a natural masterpiece.

However, if you can't make it out in the morning, there's no wrong time to explore Rainbow Falls. 

Section Key-Takeaway

Explore the stories of Hawaiian goddess Hina and marvel at the majestic Rainbow Falls with its gnarled roots, fig vines, and lava cave.The best time to see rainbow is in the morning; however, it depends on the time of the year and weather conditions.


Rainbow Falls VS Other Hawaiian Waterfalls

There are two waterfalls in Hawaii that stand out: Rainbow Falls and ʻAkaka Falls.

While the Akaka Falls may tower over the former at over 440 feet, Rainbow Falls has its own advantages.

With an 80-foot cascade that tumbles over a lava shelf, Rainbow Falls creates a curtain of water that feels expansive and impressive.

Ultimately, whether you prefer the size and sheer drop of ʻAkaka Falls or the broad beauty and easy access of Rainbow Falls comes down to personal preference.


When it comes to accessibility, Rainbow Falls in Hawaii certainly takes the cake.

You can easily drive straight to a nearby parking lot and take a short walk to see the breathtaking beauty of this majestic waterfall.

On the other hand, Akaka Falls requires a bit more effort as you have to take a self-guided hike through lush rainforest.

However, this hike is well worth it as hikers are treated to stunning views of smaller cascades along the way. Plus, it's only about half a mile hike!

The View: Rainbow Magic

The view from Rainbow Falls is truly magical and unlike any other Hawaiian waterfall.

As the sun rises, misty spray creates a rainbow that seems to dance right before your eyes. It's a breathtaking sight that can be viewed from a convenient and close-by viewing area.

Visiting Rainbow Falls early in the morning guarantees a unique and unforgettable experience like no other waterfall in Hawaii. On top of that, it's free to visit, unlike Akala Falls, which requires a $5 entrance fee and $10 for parking.

Section Key-Takeaway

Rainbow Falls and ʻAkaka Falls are two impressive waterfalls in Hawaii, each offering its own unique advantages to visitors.Rainbow Falls is easily accessible by car, while Akaka Falls requires a self-guided hike through the rainforest for visitors to experience its beauty.


Exploring Wailuku River State Park

Exploring the Wailuku River State Park is a journey through some of the most authentic sights that Hawaii has to offer, and the Rainbow Falls are only a part of it.

Situated in Hilo, on the Big Island, this stunning park boasts two of the most awe-inspiring natural wonders you can find. A trip to Wailuku Pacific State Park is an adventure that you don't want to miss.

Discovering Boiling Pots

Wailuku River State Park is home to one of nature's most captivating sights, the Boiling Pots.

This area boasts numerous large pools interconnected by underground flows or cascades that create an illusion of boiling water when river levels are high.

The unique geological formations here also contribute to this jaw-dropping and mesmerizing scene.

Basaltic lava flows have shaped the bedrock into distinct column-like formations, creating giant steps that cause waterfalls and rapids to cascade into the “boiling” whirlpools.

Section Key-Takeaway

Wailuku River State Park in Hilo offers a unique experience of the stunning natural wonders of Hawaii.One of  the stunning natural wonder in Wailuku River State Park is Boiling Pots, featuring large, and interconnected pools.

It create an illusion of boiling water and basaltic lava flows shaped into distinct column-like formations.

Tips For Visiting Rainbow Falls

When planning a visit to Rainbow Falls, there are a few key tips that can make it a fun and enjoyable experience.

One of the most important things to remember is to check the weather forecast before heading out.

Seeing rainbows is a big part of the appeal of Rainbow Falls, but it's not nearly as exciting if the sky is cloudy.

Additionally, wearing comfortable shoes is essential, particularly if you plan on exploring other areas of Wailuku River State Park.

Finally, make sure to pack plenty of water to stay hydrated. With these tips in mind, visiting Rainbow Falls can be a memorable and rewarding adventure.

Section Key-Takeaway

Visiting Rainbow Falls can be an enjoyable experience if you prepare it very well such as checking the weather forecast, wearing comfortable shoes and bringing plenty of water.



Rainbow Falls is the ideal place you shouldn't miss when traveling in Hawaii's Big Island.

It is truly an opportunity of a lifetime to take in the breathtaking views and drive into cultural stories that shape this place.

Not only will you be able to appreciate its beauty in all its glory, but it's also sure to provide memories you'll treasure for years to come!

Frequently Asked Questions