Take a Waterfall Walk at Akaka Falls State Park

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The waterfall walk at Akaka Falls State Park is an easy way to see one of Hawaii’s most spectacular waterfalls. Whether you are roadtripping on the Big Island or visiting when your cruise ship docks in Hilo, Akaka Falls State Park makes a fun boomer travel adventure. Alan and I thoroughly enjoyed our visit.

How to Visit Akaka Falls State Park

Use your zoom lens to capture a close up of Akaka Falls at the Akaka Falls Lookout. Photo by Donna Hull.

The park is open daily from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. Since Akaka Falls State Park is a popular stop for tour buses, there is no best time to visit. Planning your trip between 9 a.m. and 11 a.m. will avoid some of the crowds (but you still won’t be alone). Another option is to go late in the afternoon before closing time.

There is a $5 entrance fee per person for non-residents (credit card only). Entrance is free for Hawaiian residents if they show a driver’s license or state id.

The parking area also charges a $10 parking fee to non-residents (credit card only), Hawaiian residents park free. Since there is little cell service at Akaka Falls, be sure to purchase your entrance and parking fee ahead of time at the state park’s website.

It’s also important to check the website on the day before visiting just in case the park has been closed for some reason, which happens occasionally.

Akaka Falls State Park is 11 miles from Hilo or 3.6 miles from Honomu. You’ll find these beautiful Hawaiian waterfalls at the end of Akaka Falls Road (Highway 200).

Our Waterfall walk on Akaka Falls Loop Trail

You’ll see small waterfalls along the Akaka Falls Loop Trail. Photo by Donna Hull.

On a drive along the Hamakua Coast in Hawaii, Alan and I discovered the lovely Akaka Falls State Park while exploring the area around Hilo. Although Akaka Falls is the star attraction, you’ll also see Kahuna Falls plus many small waterfalls next to the trail.

This Hawaiian waterfall hike travels through a lush rainforest. The 0.4-mile loop trail to the waterfalls is paved, although there are some stairs. It makes for a pleasant morning or afternoon of walking and photographing on the Big Island.

Akaka Falls

The dramatic Akaka Falls. Photo by Donna Hull.

Plummeting 442 feet, it’s easy to see why Akaka Falls is one of Hawaii’s most famous waterfalls. A viewing area includes protective railings so that you don’t fall over the edge while capturing the waterfall’s slender but powerful plunge into a gorge created by years of erosion.

It always pays to stop for a closer look. Photo by Donna Hull.

It pays to slow down and look closely during the easy hike to Akaka Falls. The waterfall walk takes about 30 to 45 minutes, depending on how much time you spend taking photos, to complete the loop trail.

You’ll be walking through a lush, upcountry rainforest filled with ferns, wild orchids, bamboo groves and banyon trees, so why hurry?

Kahuna Falls

Kahuna Falls is difficult to photograph. Photo by Donna Hull.

With only a 100-foot plunge into the rainforest, Kahuna Falls is less impressive. It’s also harder to photograph as there is no access from the edge of the cliff.

Alan and I read about Akaka Falls State Park in Hawaii The Big Island Revealed. We thoroughly enjoy spending time walking through the misty rainforest and photographing the water features, including Akaka and Kahuna Falls.

What to see near Akaka Falls State Park

Akaka Falls State Park is worth the time and effort to visit. Photo by Donna Hull.

On our visit to the Hamakua Coast, we enjoyed exploring the small village of Honomu after the waterfall walk.

We also found Laupahoehoe Point Beach Park to be a beautiful look at part of Hawaii’s tragic natural history. And the lava-filled beach makes for an interesting photography session.

The area was a thriving ancient Hawaiian settlement and fishing village that somehow avoided the westernization by missionary influences. In 1883, a sugar plantation turned Lapahoehoe into a busy center of commerce and tourism.

But it was the a single chimney and memorial plaque that we found the most interesting. They commemorate the tragic loss of life when three tidal waves devastated the area in 1946. All total, 160 inhabitants lost their lives.

Garden lovers will want to add a trip to Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden.

Where to stay near Akaka Falls

If you’re interested in staying longer on the north side of Hawaii, I recommend booking a vacation rental so that you can take your time exploring the area. A longer visit will give you time for off-the-beaten-path adventures like a horseback ride in Waipi’o Valley.

For a shorter stay, consider the lodging choices in Hilo.

How to visit Akaka Falls on an independent shore excursion

Akaka Falls State Park makes a delightful independent shore excursion. Photo by Donna Hull.

Our trip to Akaka Falls State Park was part of a bed and breakfast tour of the big island of Hawaii. However you can easily visit the falls when your ship calls on Hilo.

Rather than booking a shore excursion through the ship, rent a car in Hilo. You will have plenty of time to visit Akaka Falls State Park as well as Hawaii Volcanoes National Park (website here).

Scratch those itchy travel feet!

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