Situated just 5-10 minutes drive from dowtown Hilo, Rainbow Falls is a breathtakingly beautiful 80 foot waterfall that flows over a natural lava cave.
The falls are managed by Hawai'i State Parks and are free to visit.
With an immediately adjacent parking lot, this an easy and mandatory stop for anyone (and of any age or fitness level) visiting Hilo.
Waipio Valley, known as 'The Valley of the Kings,' was once home to the ancient Hawaiian kings (ali'i) and the capital city of Hawaii. It's lush, verdant valley and dramatic 2,000-3,000 ft cliffs, coupled with its black sand beach and towering waterfalls make Waipio Valley one of the most beautiful places in all of Hawaii - if not on Earth itself.
A place steeped in history, culture, and myth, those who visit report feeling a certain 'mana' or powerful energy in the Valley. Regardless of of how mystically inclined one might be, no one doubts there is something truly special about this place.
One of the very best ways to visit Waipio Valley is on horseback. Two different companies provide half day rides into the valley and up its irrigation channels which serve as 'roads.' Having been on both tours, I can assure you that both companies are fantastic, the price tag is lower than expected (typically less than $100 for 2.5 hours), and the guides and experience are both unbeatable.
For reservations, contact:
Na'alapa Stables or Waipi'o on Horseback
The absolutely stunning Pololu Valley - meaning 'long spear' in Hawaiian - is located at the end of the Akoni Pule Hwy (270) heading north.
Visitors can take in the view of the Kohala Coast by simply stopping at the Polulu Overlook, although we'd strongly ecourage those with just a bit more time and energy to leave their car behind and take a short, but steep 20-30 minute hike down to the gorgeous 'salt-and-pepper' black sand Pololu Beach. The total hike if just going to the beach is less than one mile round trip and is well worth it.
Once arriving down at the beach, hikers can explore tall, tree covered sand dunes and gaze up the Pololu Stream which runs down through the rugged Pololu Valley portion of Kohala Mountain.
The water may seem enticing but beware, there are incredibly strong currents in this area and only experts or locals with knowledge of the tides and the area should attempt to swim here.
More advanced hikers can continue on to the southern end of the beach and continue on another 1.1 miles on a faint trail located just 30 yards or so back from the place where the cliffs meet the sea at the end of the beach and make the fairly easy climb to the Honokane Nui Valley overlook.
Parking at the trail head is limited, so come early, especially on weekends. Please also be respectful of the nearby neighbors and don't forget to remove all valuables from your car prior to heading down to the beach.