Rainbow Falls, a Scenic Stop in Hilo

Here’s an informative article on Rainbow Falls by Katie Young Yamanaka for Hawaiʻi.com.

Rainbow Falls is a favorite stop on the Big Island Circle Tour.

One of the most easily accessible waterfalls on the Big Island, Rainbow Falls is just a quick five-minute drive from downtown Hilo.

On sunny days, rainbows appear in the mist of the 80-foot falls, making for some pretty magical views. The broad waterfall — nearly 100 feet in diameter — plunges over a natural lava cave and into the river below.

When it rains, (which it often does in Hilo), the engorged Wailuku River makes the falls wider, muddier and louder. On these days, you won’t see the rainbows for which this spot is named, but the sheer volume of water and the accessibility of this spot for all ages make it a fun, quick and easy excursion.

The paved parking lot, which has a dozen car stalls and a few larger spots for tour buses, leads straight to the viewing platform where most visitors gather for the best photo ops of the falls.

If you are game to climb a couple dozen uneven rock steps (there is a metal railing on either side to help you get your grip), you will be treated to a bird’s eye view of the falls from above, including a glimpse of the less dramatic side of the Wailuku River.

The path at the top doesn’t lead very far through the forest of trees, however, and there are warnings against jumping or diving, the potential for flash flooding and not wandering off-trail because of the hazardous cliff. There may be a few souls who attempt a swim in the ponds at the top, but this is NOT advised.

The Legend of Hina

Known in the Hawaiʻian language as Waiānuenue — literally “rainbow water” — it is said that the Hawaiʻian goddess Hina, goddess of the moon, dwells in the lava cave behind the curtain of the falls.

Hina is the mother Maui, another storied demigod in Hawaiʻian mythology who is best known for lassoing the sun so that he could help his mother dry kapa (cloth made from tree bark).

Maui also helped save his mother from certain doom after a giant lizard named Mo‘o Kuna hurled a boulder over the cliff, blocking the entrance to Hina’s cave. Cold water began to rush in as Hina slept. Maui used his club to split the giant rock in two, freeing his mother. The two parts of the great boulder, known as Lonoka‘eho, are now overgrown with tropical plants but remain as a reminder of Maui’s strength.


More Posts

Great Tour Guarantee

At Kailani Tours, our top priority is delivering unforgettable Big Island experiences. We’re confident that you’ll find our tours enriching and well worth your time. If for any reason you feel otherwise, please tell us. We’ll make it right, whether that means inviting you on another tour, issuing a refund, or providing a voucher for a future visit. Your time is precious, and we’re honored that you choose to spend it exploring the Big Island with us.

Here’s what we cannot guarantee:

You will see active lava flows

Mother Nature has her own schedule, and while we wish we could promise a spectacular lava show, it’s truly up to the forces of the earth.

You’ll have full access to every part of the parks.

Volcano National Park areas are subject to closures based on safety assessments by park officials. As always, safety is our top priority and we can easily adapt our itinerary to make sure you get the best experience possible.

You’ll experience perfect weather

The Big Island’s weather can be as unpredictable as it is beautiful. We can’t guarantee sunshine and clear skies every day, but the dynamic weather is part of the island’s charm.

We value your decision to discover the Big Island with us, and we’re committed to making your tour a highlight of your Hawaii visit.


With Trip Protection (Highly Recommended)

For a small fee (15%), Trip Protection allows you to cancel or reschedule your tour at any time – for any reason – up to 1 hour prior to trip departure. You will be reimbursed for the FULL amount of each ticket, less the cost of trip protection and processing fees. 

You may opt in or opt out of Trip Protection at the time of booking, either online or over the phone.

Without Trip Protection

You may cancel or reschedule your tour up to 48 hours before your tour’s scheduled departure to avoid fees or penalties. 

Refunds are not possible within 48 hours of your tour’s departure time, however, we will make every effort to accommodate rescheduling your booking to another date, if you so desire.

Please Note: Our tours operate rain or shine, though itineraries may be adjusted in response to severe weather conditions. Access to certain parts of Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park, including during events like active lava flows or eruptions, may be restricted or closed by park officials without notice. In such cases, Kailani Tours does not offer partial refunds for any part of the tour affected by these restrictions.

With our vast experience navigating these occasional closures, you can trust that we will make the absolute most of your day with us, no matter the conditions.

Lowest Price Guarantee

We guarantee the absolute lowest price on all experiences we sell. If you find the same product cheaper within three days of booking or while you’re in your destination, we’ll refund the difference.

It’s Easy To Do: 

Gather your information

Assemble your Kailani Tours receipt and the proof of the lower price you found.

Send it to us

Email [email protected] with the documents, your name, and your home address. 

We’ll review 

We’ll examine your materials and get in touch as soon as we can. 

Receive your refund 

If everything checks out, we’ll refund you the difference between the two prices.