Waiale Falls (Wai'ale Falls)

near Hilo (The Big Island), Hawaii, USA

Rating: 2     Difficulty: 1
Wai'ale Falls

TABLE OF CONTENTS



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INTRODUCTION

Waiale Falls (or Wai'ale Falls) is a lesser known waterfall further upstream from both Pe'epe'e Falls and the popular Rainbow Falls near downtown Hilo.

The falls itself actually consists of two tiers. The lower tier appears to be man-modified with a wall built beneath the falls flow. I still have yet to figure out why man-modification was done for this waterfall though I speculate it either has to do with erosion control or flow regulation further downstream. The upper tier doesn't appear to have this type of treatment.

Besides a roadside view of both waterfall tiers, an overgrown, sometimes faint 0.25-mile "trail" leads to pools at the top of the falls. When I tried this faint trail, I had no intention of swimming so I didn't finish the scramble as I realized the views of the upper waterfall got more overgrown and obstructed the further I went.

It has been said that Waiale Falls has noticeably greater water flow than Pe'epe'e Falls a short distance downstream. This may be because of water seeping into the more porous lava under the river near Pe'epe'e Falls. Also, there is downstream water diversion just above Pe'epe'e Falls for the Waiau Hydro Plant.




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PHOTO JOURNAL

Hilo made for a fairly convenient base to go seek out flowing lava at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park since it's around an hour's drive south of Hilo.  However, how much effort to exert to see lava totally depends on where the flows are atHilo made for a fairly convenient base to go seek out flowing lava at Hawaii Volcanoes National Park since it's around an hour's drive south of Hilo.
While we're on the topic of volcanoes and flowing lava, we took it another level to get really close to flowing lava but that required hiking in the dark on the slippery lava surfaces of past flowsWhile we're on the topic of volcanoes and flowing lava, we took it another level to get really close to flowing lava but that required hiking in the dark on the slippery lava surfaces of past flows
As opposed to going south of Hilo, had we gone far north of town, we would arrive at the Waipi'o Valley (shown here)As opposed to going south of Hilo, had we gone far north of town, we would arrive at the Waipi'o Valley (shown here)
Another look at Wai'ale Falls from the road bridgeAnother look at Wai'ale Falls from the road bridge

Me scrambling through the overgrowthMe scrambling through the overgrowth

I managed to get this view of the upper tier of Wai'ale Falls as the trail became too overgrown for me to confidently proceedI managed to get this view of the upper tier of Wai'ale Falls as the trail became too overgrown for me to confidently proceed

Wai'ale Falls in a very swollen stateThe falls in a very swollen state during an intense rain storm during Super Bowl XLII Weekend


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS


Fixated on the raging falls from the bridge


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DRIVING DIRECTIONS

From the Hilo Airport at the Hwy 19 and Hwy 11 junction with Banyan Drive in Hilo, we headed west on Hwy 19 for about 3 miles to Waianuenue Ave. Then, we turned left and took Waianuenue Ave west until we got about a half-mile past its junction with Hwy 200 (Saddle Road), the Pe'epe'e Falls Street (there's a Boiling Pots sign) turnoff and crossing the bridge over the Wailuku River. Immediately after crossing the Wailuku River bridge, there is a large pullout for Wai'ale Falls.

To give you some geographical context, Hilo was 79 miles (under 2 hours drive) east of Kailua-Kona via the Saddle Road. Otherwise, taking the more conventional route along Hwy 19 through Waikoloa, Waikoloa Village, and Waimea, this drive would be 96 miles long taking over 2 hours.




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ITINERARIES

For more information about our itineraries involving this waterfall, check out the following links.




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MAP OF THE FALLS



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TRIP REPORTS

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




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES



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NEARBY WATERFALLS




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Waiale Falls - Hilo, Big Island - 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 waterfall pictures and have taken …

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