Peepee Falls (Pe'epe'e Falls)

Wailuku River State Park / Hilo (The Big Island), Hawaii, USA

Rating: 2     Difficulty: 2
Pe'epe'e Falls
Peepee Falls (or more accurately Pe'epe'e Falls) is a lesser known waterfall about 1.5 miles upstream from the popular Rainbow Falls near downtown Hilo.

I reckon this waterfall was lesser known because the public access viewing area at the Wailuku River State Park seemed more for the Boiling Pots than this waterfall. By the way, the Boiling Pots was a series of smaller cascades and pools further downstream that can be a deadly raging torrent in high water. We actually witnessed how scary it can be at high water when we experienced an unusually heavy rain storm during Super Bowl XLII Weekend back in 2008.

Although it had been said that Peepee Falls plunged 80-100ft, it certainly didn't look that way. Based on a crude method where I saw people standing behind the falls and stacked them up in a photo, it seemed more like 50 or 60ft tall instead. In any case, the plunge pool was surrounded by lava rocks believed to date back to the eruptions of the Mauna Loa and Mauna Kea volcanoes over 3,000 years ago and about 10,000 years ago, respectively.

A pair of people swimming in one of the pools within the Boiling Pots when the conditions were calm Since the view of the falls from the official lookout seemed to leave a lot to be desired, we went ahead and scrambled for a closer look as the falls was roughly about a quarter-mile away. We must say that we made this attempt with trepidation as many people died here due to flash floods or who foolishly tried to cross the stream in high water. Needless to say, this was something we only attempted when Wailuku River was in low flow, and when we saw plenty of other people swim or cross the river.

The primitive scramble path began on the right side of the overlook as it descended to the lava rocks on the banks of the Wailuku River. From there, we were able to continue upstream along the river before we saw where the river crossing was reasonably short but not dangerously fast-moving and deep.

There was a section where I was able to cross onto a mini-island where the Wailuku River split. That allowed me to only get wet (about thigh-deep to waist-deep) on the far side of the crossing in low water. I wouldn't have made the attempt if the river's flow was any higher than this. Julie didn't join me so she held the keys and wallet (keeping me from drenching them accidentally). I just kept the camera high over my head trying my best to make sure not to fall and accidentally dunk it like I did in the past.

Once I got to the other side, I had to scramble a bit more before I finally got to the plunge pool right across from the Peepee Falls (see photo at the top of this page). To the left of it, I saw another waterfall that would otherwise be hidden from anyone who didn't make this scramble. I did notice a handful of folks scramble all the way to the backside of the falls, which was something I chose not to do.

Directions: From Hwy 19 in Hilo, head west on Waianuenue Ave, which has "Boiling Pots" signs to help guide you. About 2 miles past the Hwy 200 junction (1.5 miles west of Rainbow Falls turnoff), turn right from Waianuenue Ave onto Pe'epe'e Falls Street and continue to the Wailuku River State Park car park on your left.

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At the Boiling Pots, people have been known to jump from one pool to the next when conditions allow
The Wailuku River between Pe'epe'e Falls and Boiling Pots under benign conditions
The Wailuku River between Pe'epe'e Falls and Boiling Pots under flooded conditions
About an hour's drive south of Hilo (or less) is Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where we saw flowing lava, lava tubes, and even eccentric sea arches like this one
The car park for Wailuku River State ParkThe car park for Wailuku River State Park

Looking downstream at the Boiling Pots from the overlookLooking downstream at the Boiling Pots from the overlook

Distant look at Pe'epe'e Falls from the overlookDistant look at Pe'epe'e Falls from the overlook

The falls still looked pretty far awayThe falls still looked pretty far away

Zoomed in on a distant view of the Pe'epe'e FallsZoomed in on a distant view of the Pe'epe'e Falls

Joining a bunch of people to scramble closer to Peepee FallsJoining a bunch of people to scramble closer to Peepee Falls

Getting closer to the fallsGetting closer to the falls

Hidden waterfallHidden waterfall

Looking across the plunge pool at Peepee FallsLooking across the plunge pool at Peepee Falls

Starting to head backStarting to head back

Boiling Pots were really churning on that day!Boiling Pots were really churning on that day!

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Fixated on the falls with the sound of an aircraft overhead

Left to right sweep starting at the Pe'epe'e Falls and ending at the churning Boiling Pots

Left to right sweep of the Wailuku River and the falls itself

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For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.

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Garden of Eden 
When I first saw this scene, it looked like what I would imagine the Garden of Eden would look like. I too, love water fall pictures and have taken …

Pe'epe'e Falls, The Big Island, Hawaii 
By far my favorite on the islands, because you can actually park your car, hike to the falls and swim in the amazing pool. Its a short, 40 minute, but …

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