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.
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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