Wailuku River State Park
Just outside of Hilo on Hawaii’s Big Island, Wailuku River State Park’s accessible natural wonders draw in locals and tourists on outings from Hilo as well as day trippers from the rest of the island. The park is a popular destination on many tours of the Big Island from scenic helicopter flights to overland tours that also explore the nearby Volcanoes National Park and black sand beaches.
Things to Know Before You Go
- A great stop for nature lovers and photographers.
- Rainbow Falls, Boiling Pots, and Pe’epe’e Falls are best viewed from the overlooks because trails to the attractions are steep and slippery.
- The park is free and the overlooks are wheelchair accessible.
- Swimming in the river is not recommended due to the risk of flash flooding.
How to Get There
The park is an easy jaunt from Hilo by car or bicycle. Take Waianuenue Avenue two miles from downtown and turn on Rainbow Drive to find the parking lot for Rainbow Falls. To reach the Boiling Pots and Pe’epe’e Falls overlook continue 1.5 miles (2.4 kilometers) past the turnoff for Rainbow Falls. If you are visiting from a different part of the island, consider a tour which includes the falls alongside other Keaukaha Coast attractions.
When to Get There
The park is open daily from dawn to dusk. The best time to see rainbows at the falls is around 10am on a sunny day. To see the falls and boiling pots at their most dramatic, visit after a heavy rain. If water levels are low you will not see the boiling effect at the Boiling Pots. To avoid crowds, visit before the tour buses that typically arrive between 10am and 2pm.
The Creation of the Boiling Pots
The Boiling Pots were formed by the combined effects of water and lava at the point where the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes met and the Wailuku River coursed through, creating the gorge. When the lava cooled in the river bed it formed the deep vertical columns that are now the Boiling Pots. When the water is not high enough to create the boiling action the section of the river appears as a series of terraced pools.
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