Rise early to come to this scenic waterfall for the best chance of seeing the beautiful rainbows that give it its name.
The Rainbow Falls, set amid lush vegetation and incredible scenery, are jewels of the Hilo landscape. They are named for the miniature rainbows that appear at the foot of the falls in certain weather conditions. Come here to get close to nature and take photographs of the scenic cascade.
The Hawaiian name for the falls is Waiānuenue, which roughly translates to “rainbow water.” The water spills over a hidden volcanic cave. Legend has it that Hina, the Hawaiian moon goddess, lives in this secret place.
Come to the falls in the early morning on a sunny day for a better likelihood of seeing the famous rainbows caused by the light moving through the water. This is also the most peaceful time at the falls, which attract more visitors later in the day.
The waterfall is an imposing at 80 feet (24 meters) high and 100 feet (30 meters) wide. Expect a very different sight depending on the time of year and the weather. When the rains have been heavy, the rainbows may not show up, but the crashing, full waters will be spectacular in a different way. Come on another day, in different weather conditions, and see the waterfall at a fraction of the size.
It’s easy to reach the waterfall, even accompanied by small children or older family members. However, to gain access to an extra-special view, climb the set of steps by the side of the water and be rewarded with a bird’s-eye perspective. Remember to wear sturdy shoes, as the steps are roughly carved into the rock and can be uneven. After taking photos that seem too good to be true, head to the nearby café to reward yourself with coffee or ice cream.
Drive to Rainbow Falls from downtown Hilo in just 5 minutes and use the parking lot by the site. Alternately, walk and make the most of the beautiful Hawaiian sunshine. Either way, be prepared to be blown away by this natural spectacle in the heart of Hilo.