Both the “Hanapueo Falls” and the “Lower Umauma Falls” (informal names I’m giving them after their respective stream names according to our Topo map) are visible from a bridge along Highway 19.
These falls basically got our attention as we were zooming along the highway and rubbernecked towards the gulch as we crossed over the road bridge crossing high above the gorge. I can only imagine how many more motorists miss these falls just zooming along unaware of the scene here. To further add spice to the scene here, we were even able to see Mauna Kea behind these falls on a clear day!
As for trying to get a closer look, we looked around from the large pullout on the south side of the bridge. However, we weren’t successful finding a way to get closer to either of the falls. That doesn’t mean such paths don’t exist. It’s just that we couldn’t figure them out (assuming they exist).
To see the pair of waterfalls from the Hwy 19 bridge over Umauma Stream (while appear to lie outside the garden boundaries), look for the first Hwy 19 bridge north of the 16-mile post. This bridge is over 15 miles (under 30 minutes drive) north of the Hilo Airport in Hilo.
As you’re heading north, use the pullout on the left (mauka) side of Hwy 19 just before the bridge. Once you leave the car, you’ll have to walk along the bridge (fortunately the walkway is wide enough that you don’t have to worry too much about becoming roadkill) until you’re satisfied with the view.
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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