Hawaii: The Big Island: Hamakua

When your destination is the end of the road, you know you can’t get lost. Highway 240 dead-ends at the Waipi’o Valley lookout. Looking out from the top of cliffs is spectacular. The ocean’s shade of blue rivals that of Crayola, and the greens of the valley equally vibrant. Waves crash along the black sand beach 2000 feet below.

Waipi'o Valley Lookout

The Hi’ilawe Falls are nestled in the Waipi’o Valley and I wanted to see them. At 1450 feet, Hi’ilawe Falls is the tallest waterfall in the state. It took us around 45 minutes to climb down the one mile 25% grade road to where we could see the falls from a distance. (There isn’t a trail to get to the foot of the falls.) During periods of heavy rain you might see two streams flowing down the cliff.

Hi'ilawe Falls

After catching a glimpse of the waterfall we headed to the black sand beach where we stopped and ate our packed lunch. Don’t forget to look up and see how far you hiked! On our hike to the beach we saw wild horses and the skeleton of a jeep that we can only infer fell down the cliff.

Waipi'o Valley

Hiking back up the 2000 feet was not a picnic. It was slow going up the steep road, and the temptation to hitchhike a ride back up very great. We stopped often along to the way to rehydrate and snap some more pictures. I have to admit, that I was impressed it still only took us 45 minutes to make it back to the Wiapi’o Valley lookout.

Akaka Falls State ParkIf you don’t want to make the exhausting trip to see the Hi’ilawe Falls, there is a more beautiful and easily accessible waterfall in Hamakua. Akaka Falls State Park is home to not only the most beautiful waterfall on the island, Akaka Falls, but also Kahuna Falls. Both are located along a boardwalk trail Circle Route. Catching a glimpse of Kahuna Falls from the boardwalk isn’t easy and the waterfall is only 100 feet, but “why not?” Continue to follow Circle Route to Akaka Falls, stopping to look at the fauna of the rain-forest around you.

Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls

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