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Rainbow Falls

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.

Popular Activities at Rainbow Falls

There are loads of wonderful ways to get a feel for Rainbow Falls. Here is a list of some of the best ones:

If you're chasing more activities, check out our Hilo things to do page.


Map

Best Lodging Options Near Rainbow Falls

See all 195 Properties near Rainbow Falls
Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo - a Doubletree by Hilton $130
Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo - a Doubletree by Hilton

Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo - a Doubletree by Hilton

93 Banyan Dr, Hilo, HI
     
    3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

    Located in the heart of Hilo, this golf hotel is steps from Hamakua Heritage Corridor and Hamakua Coast. Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Pacific Tsunami Museum are also within 3 mi (5 km).

    Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel $129
    Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

    Castle Hilo Hawaiian Hotel

    71 Banyan Dr, Hilo, HI
       
      3.5 out of 5.0 Stars

      Situated in Hilo, this golf hotel is steps from Hamakua Heritage Corridor and Hamakua Coast. Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Pacific Tsunami Museum are also within 2 mi (3 km).

      Ocean View, A/C and Walk to Rainbow Falls
      Ocean View, A/C and Walk to Rainbow Falls

      Ocean View, A/C and Walk to Rainbow Falls

      Hilo, Hawaii
         
        0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

        Located in the heart of Hilo, this romantic vacation home is steps from Gilbert Carvalho Park and Hamakua Coast. Lyman Museum and Rainbow Falls are also within 1 mi (2 km).

        Homeaway's Top 10 Romantic Properties In The World - The Falls at Reed's Island
        Homeaway's Top 10 Romantic Properties In The World - The Falls at Reed's Island

        Homeaway's Top 10 Romantic Properties In The World - The Falls at Reed's Island

        286 Kaiulani Street, Hilo, Hawaii
           
          0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

          Situated by the ocean, this romantic vacation home is within 1 mi (2 km) of Naha Stone, Lyman Museum, and Pacific Tsunami Museum. Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Hamakua Coast are also within 2 mi (3 km).

          New Listing!!reed's Island! Private Water Fall View!!private Retreat
          New Listing!!reed's Island! Private Water Fall View!!private Retreat

          New Listing!!reed's Island! Private Water Fall View!!private Retreat

          Hilo, Hawaii
             
            0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

            Situated in Hilo, this vacation home is within 1 mi (2 km) of Naha Stone, Lyman Museum, and Pacific Tsunami Museum. Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Hamakua Coast are also within 2 mi (3 km).

            Hilltop Legacy Vacation Rental $62
            Hilltop Legacy Vacation Rental

            Hilltop Legacy Vacation Rental

            57 Hina St., Hilo, HI
               
              2.5 out of 5.0 Stars

              Situated near the airport, this vacation home is within a 15-minute walk of Hamakua Coast and Lyman Museum. Pacific Tsunami Museum and Rainbow Falls are also within 1 mi (2 km).

              Incredible Reeds Island Of Hilo Ohana 1 Tropical Premier Five Star Guest House
              Incredible Reeds Island Of Hilo Ohana 1 Tropical Premier Five Star Guest House

              Incredible Reeds Island Of Hilo Ohana 1 Tropical Premier Five Star Guest House

              Hilo, HI
                 
                0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                Situated in Hilo, this guesthouse is within 1 mi (2 km) of Naha Stone, Lyman Museum, and Pacific Tsunami Museum. Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Hamakua Coast are also within 2 mi (3 km).

                Incredible Reeds Island Of Hilo #2 Tropical Premier Five Star Guest House~
                Incredible Reeds Island Of Hilo #2 Tropical Premier Five Star Guest House~

                Incredible Reeds Island Of Hilo #2 Tropical Premier Five Star Guest House~

                Hilo, HI
                   
                  0.0 out of 5.0 Stars

                  Located in the heart of Hilo, this guesthouse is within 1 mi (2 km) of Naha Stone, Lyman Museum, and Pacific Tsunami Museum. Panaewa Rainforest Zoo and Hamakua Coast are also within 2 mi (3 km).