Rainbow Falls: A Spectacular Waterfall in Wailuku River State Park, Hilo, Hawaii

Rainbow Falls: A Spectacular Waterfall in Wailuku River State Park, Hilo, Hawaii

Visit Rainbow Falls, a stunning natural wonder in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii. Experience the serene ambiance of the Wailuku River State Park.
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Rainbow Falls is a mesmerizing natural wonder in the heart of Hilo town. From the point where the waterfall cascades from a height of 80 feet, visitors are treated to an impressive view of the diverse landscape of the Big Island.

Especially after heavy rains, the waterfall comes to life in a powerful and mesmerizing way. The water cascades into a deep pool at the bottom, surrounded by lush green plants and huge banian trees, creating an almost magical atmosphere.

It’s a must-see for anyone exploring the Big Island, and according to ancient Hawaiian mythology, this is the home of the ancient Hawaiian goddess Hina. This adds cultural significance to the natural beauty of the waterfall.

The Meaning Behind the Name: Waiānuenue

The waterfall’s Hawaiian name is “Waiānuenue,” which means “rainbow appearing in the water.” The name describes not only the waterfall itself, but also the impressive rainbows that often appear in the steamy environment.

rainbow falls big island hawaii

According to Hawaiian legends, the lava cave behind the waterfall is the home of the moon goddess Hina. This mythological connection adds mystery to the already beautiful Waianuenue Falls.

Location of Wailuku River State Park

Rainbow Falls is a spectacular natural wonder located in the Wailuku River State Park. The road to this waterfall is just a short drive from downtown Hilo and is accompanied by the sounds and sights of the tropical forest throughout the journey. As you drive down Waianuenue Street, at a certain point you will make a right turn and arrive at this enchanting place.

The roar of the waterfall guides you along a green pathway filled with informative signposts telling its rich history and the legends of the Goddess Hina. Not far from downtown Hilo, this is an easily accessible spot where you can enjoy nature.

A short hike to the top of the falls is an absolutely unforgettable experience. The short hike takes you through giant banyan trees and offers impressive views from a different perspective of the falls.

Best Time to Visit the Big Island of Hawaii

The best time to visit the Big Island of Hawaii is early in the day, especially on sunny mornings. If you arrive at the park before sunrise, even before you’ve had your coffee, you have a better chance of seeing the rainbow.

This early start is definitely worth it for the view that awaits you. I recommend spending about 30 minutes to an hour to fully appreciate the beauty of the waterfall and its surroundings.

Why Are The Waterfalls in Hilo Area Called “The Rainbow Falls”?

Have you ever wondered why the waterfalls in Hilo are called “Rainbow Falls”? The answer is no big secret; it’s actually all about science and perfect positioning. Rainbow Falls faces east, which means you need to be there early in the morning, at sunrise, to see the best rainbows.

rainbow falls hilo hawaii

Rainbows are created when light is reflected, refracted and scattered in the water droplets created by the waterfalls. These tiny droplets work like tiny prisms that split sunlight into a spectacular spectrum of colors.

It doesn’t need to rain to see rainbows; sunny weather and plenty of misty drops are enough. The more water that falls from the waterfall, the more impressive the rainbow. But even when there is little water, you can still witness this breathtaking phenomenon.

Ancient Banyan Trees

While exploring, you may also come across an old plane tree near the viewing area above. In the middle of a tropical rainforest, this old sycamore tree covered in vines adds to the mystique of the place.

Pe’epe’e Falls

If you want to hike a little further, you can visit Pe’epe’e Falls, a little further upstream from Rainbow Falls. While Rainbow Falls usually gets all the attention, Pe’epe’e is a hidden gem waiting to be discovered.

Nearby boiling waters and vapors are a reminder of the island’s volcanic origins, while for the adventurous, the Kaumana Caves offer fascinating insights into the island’s geological past.


Rainbow Falls is not only a breathtaking natural wonder, but also a living tapestry woven with elements of natural beauty, cultural heritage and mythological significance.

As the sound of the waterfall echoes in your ears and you leave with memories of rainbows dancing in your eyes, you carry a piece of Hilo’s heart forever engraved in your own.