For an ultimate Hawaiian vacation, most tourists choose the Big Island for the diverse opportunities when it comes to exploring its contrasting landscapes. Its landscape is composed of the colored sand beaches, especially that of Papakolea which is green, then there is the ash-colored volcanic landscape of Kilauea, and of course, the lush green parks such as the Akaka Falls State Park, home to the 100-foot Kahuna Falls, and the popular 442-foot Akaka Falls.

Located along the verdant Hamakua Coast, the Akaka Falls State Park attracts many nature lovers each year for its scenic views and hiking trails. This coastal region of the Big Island is considered very wet receiving over 229 inches of rain annually, especially in the nearby city of Hilo. To reach the Akaka Falls State Park, take the Highway from Honumu off the Hawaii Belt Road, which is at the end of Hawaii Route 220. Along the way, visitors will be able to grab some delicious local fruits at the fruit stalls, which is a great way to kickstart the epic adventure, where sweeping views of the lush green rainforest and the cascading Akaka Falls await.

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Hiking The Akaka Falls - Big Views And Bigger Waterfall

Start the journey from the small parking lot of the Akaka State Park. From there, pay the admission fee and follow the signs. Because of its popularity, it is advisable to visit this attraction on a weekday, ideally between nine and eleven in the morning. Since this area receives a lot of rainfalls, it is recommended to take a raincoat or a rain jacket and mosquito repellent to avoid any mosquito bites.

Take the ‘circle route’ or the paved looped hike to the right, where hikers will be able to see the Kahuna Falls, which is more likely visible after rainfall. The initial pathway is slightly uphill and has several steps. The path is covered with trees and bushes. Hike through and find many wild orchids, beautiful bamboo trees, and all sorts of green ferns. Soak in the fresh air and enjoy the peaceful setting of the surroundings. Visitors will be able to feast their eyes on the sublime view of the waterfalls and see some butterflies flitting from flower to flower.

Within some minutes of the hike, the view of the towering Akaka Falls will be visible. The waterfall flows from a small cliff into the sublime Kolekole Stream. One interesting thing to see here is the o'opu ‘alamo'o fish, which is a goby fish that hatch its eggs on the top of the falls. Once they hatch, their larva floats down the waterfall and leads into the ocean, and hence they spend their maturing months in the sea. The young fish swims miles back up to the Kolekole Stream and then uses the suction cup-like mouth and pelvic fin to climb vertically up the 442 feet cliff from the base of the Akaka Falls.

From this point, hikers can relax, take some great pictures, and enjoy the breathtaking view of the waterfalls and the gorges. Eventually, return to the parking lot, where one can find the Mana's Aloha Fruit Stand right at the exit of the park. Take a refreshing coconut drink to end the wonderful trip.

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Some Important Tips - Akaka Falls State Park

  • Non-residents will have to pay an entrance fee and a parking fee at the kiosk located close to the parking lot. The fees are payable by credit card, or they can be purchased online.
  • Visitors can combine different activities when visiting Akaka Falls. Some nearby things to do include: Pepeekeo Scenic Drive, Rainbow Falls, Lyman Museum, Wailuku River State Park, and Honoli’i Beach Park.
  • Since this region receives a lot of rain, it is wise to bring a raincoat or a rain jacket along with mosquito repellent. And, of course, the camera.
  • Another point to remember is that the Akaka Falls State Park receives a lot of visitors, especially during the weekends, so it is recommended to visit during the weekdays between 9:00 am - 11:00 a.m.
  • The park has a fragile ecosystem. Thus, it is important to respect the environment and the rules to avoid any unwanted incidents.
  • There is no camping, and no fires are allowed.

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  • Admission Fee: $5 per car / $1 per pedestrian (no charge for Hawai'i residents)
  • Length: 0.4 miles
  • Duration: One Hour
  • Facilities: Visitors will be able to use the only restroom located at the Akaka Falls parking lot. So it is better to take a bathroom break just before starting the hike. There is also the Mana's Aloha Fruit Stand at the park's exit.

How To Reach Akaka Falls State Park

The Akaka Falls is tucked about 20 miles from the Hilo International Airport and about 85 miles from the Kona International Airport. The state park lies on the northeastern part of the Big Island, along the Hilo Coast at the end of the Akaka Falls Road, also known as Highway 220. The attraction is about 3.6 miles southwest of Honomu.