Located north of Hilo, Akaka Falls is one of the best-known waterfalls on the Big Island. Surrounded by lush, tropical jungle, the 442-foot-high (135-meter-high) Akaka Falls is easily accessible by a short, paved loop trail, making it one of the most popular and scenic attractions on the island.
Follow the 0.4-mile (0.64-kilometer) loop trail from the parking lot through a lush rain forest filled with orchids, ferns, and bamboo to a scenic overlook of the falls. Take a left at the fork to see Akaka Falls only. Take a right to also get a glimpse of the smaller Kahuna Falls, as well as several small cascade waterfalls.
Akaka Falls is a popular destination from Hilo. A number of full-day tours from Kona also stop at the falls, in addition to Rainbow Falls, Volcano National Park, Punalu’u Black Sand Beach, or Waipio Valley. For a more complete experience, consider add-ons such as ziplining over nearby waterfalls or a snorkeling trip to see dolphins or manta rays.
Things to Know Before You Go
- There’s a per-vehicle or per-person entrance fee to Akaka Falls.
- Watch your footing on the trail, which can be slippery from rain.
- Bring insect repellent, as mosquitos can be an issue on the trail.
- It’s a good idea to bring a raincoat or an umbrella.
- With several series of steps to navigate, the trail is not wheelchair-accessible.
- Full-day tours from Kona can last upwards of 10 hours.
How to Get There
Akaka Falls is located inside Akaka Falls State Park, north of Hilo. Between mile markers 13 and 14 on Highway 19, turn uphill onto Akaka Falls Road and drive 3 miles (4.8 kilometers) until you reach the parking lot.
When to Get There
Akaka Falls State Park is open daily, year-round. It’s best to visit in the morning to beat the crowds and the weather. The sun also shines directly onto the falls in the morning, making for better photos.
There is a species of goby fish (o’opu alamao’o in Hawaiian) that spawns upstream of the falls. It lives in the Pacific Ocean but will swim upstream and climb up the entire length of Akaka Falls, using a special suction disk on its belly, to lay its eggs. Once the eggs hatch, the larvae get washed down the falls and back into the ocean.