Onomea Falls

Hamakua Coast, Hawaii, USA

About Onomea Falls

Hiking Distance: 1/4 mile round trip (to falls only)
Suggested Time: 15-30 minutes (to falls only)

Date first visited: 2007-03-09
Date last visited: 2007-03-09

Waterfall Latitude: 19.81043
Waterfall Longitude: -155.09523

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Onomea Falls is a cascading waterfall with multiple small tiers making for a nice little photo op.

As of our last visit in 2007, it was nestled in the Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden on the 4-mile scenic drive through Onomea Bay.

Onomea_009_03092007 - Onomea Falls
Onomea Falls

Although we found this waterfall to be both attractive and a reason for us to come, I thought the main draw of the garden was its impressive collection of tropical flora from around on the world as well as some exotic birds.

Indeed, it looked like this garden was almost a world onto itself given its size and the various flora on display throughout.

I later read that Hawai’i Tropical Botanical Garden opened in 1984.

But prior to that, it was a dense jungle when Dan Lutkenhouse purchased the land about 7 years earlier.

During work to turn the jungle into a garden while providing bridges and footpaths, Lutkenhouse and company discovered the falls.

I recalled the walk to the waterfall was a few minutes going downhill then towards the left once we were deep into the garden.

Onomea_014_03092007 - True to its name, Boulder Creek literally was a stream full of boulders
True to its name, Boulder Creek literally was a stream full of boulders

I’d imagine with the price of paid admission, that waterfall wouldn’t be the only thing you’d be seeing on a visit here so detailing walking directions for it won’t be necessary.

Deeper into the park on Alakahi Stream was a 10ft waterfall called Boulder Creek Falls.

And true to its name, the diminutive falls tumbled into a boulder-filled stream.


Onomea Falls resides in private property on the Big Island of Hawaii. It is currently administered by the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting their website or Facebook page.

Onomea_014_jx_03092007 - The entrance to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens
Onomea_003_jx_03092007 - Strolling in the botanical garden
Onomea_006_03092007 - Direct look at Onomea Falls in the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens
Onomea_008_jx_03092007 - Some of the interesting exotic flora in the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens
Onomea_009_jx_03092007 - More of the exotic flora at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens
Onomea_012_jx_03092007 - Some kind of bell inside the grounds of the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Gardens
Onomea_010_03092007 - Another look at the attractive Onomea Falls
Onomea_012_03092007 - Boulder Creek Falls deep inside the botanical garden
Onomea_020_03092007 - A couple of colorful captive exotic birds

From the Hwy 19 and Hwy 11 junction by the Hilo Airport in Hilo, take Hwy 19 (Mamahaloa Hwy) north. Just north of the 7-mile post, take the “Scenic Drive” turnoff on the right. Follow the narrow 4-mile Scenic Drive (Old Mamahaloa Way) for 1.5 miles to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden car park.

Shortly before the car park is an opening with good views of Onomea Bay and the collapsed Onomea Arch. The car park, registration, and gift shop are on the mauka side of the Scenic Drive. The garden entrance is on the makai side of the road.

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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Tagged with: onomea, hawaii tropical, botanical gardens, big island, hawaii, hilo, waterfall, boulder creek falls, rainforest, scenic drive, alakahi, hamakua

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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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