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Rainbow Falls on Hawaii

The Big Island's dramatic 80-foot cascade is just minutes from downtown Hilo.


Rainbow Falls in Wailuku River State Park, Hilo, Hawaii picture
Photo credit
Photo: Andre Seale/Alamy
Photo caption
According to legend, a cave behind Rainbow Falls is home to the Hawaiian goddess Hina.

Every Hawaiian Isle offers sunsets, surf, and sand. But if you're enjoying the view from 13,800-foot Mauna Kea, driving a road that dead-ends at an old lava flow, or sipping the wares at a Kona coffee farm, you must be on the Big Island. Home to rain forests and ranch lands, coral reefs and mountain snows, the island of Hawaii takes everything to extremes.

You'll find one such superlative on the east side of the island, where frequent showers feed Rainbow Falls, an 80-foot cascade just minutes from downtown Hilo in Wailuku River State Park. When sunlight hits the spray just right, prisms appear against the lush green surroundings and the lava cave behind the falls, said to be the home of the Hawaiian goddess Hina.

Hilo is a vibrant town with a zoo, museums, galleries, and gardens. It's also the gateway to Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where visitors can traverse lava fields and catch sweeping ocean views. Volcanic activity has made the Big Island bigger, but it could hardly get better.

This article was first published in Summer 2016. Some facts may have aged gracelessly. Please call ahead to verify information.