Waiale Falls

Hilo, Hawaii, USA

About Waiale Falls


Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2007-03-09
Date last visited: 2008-02-02

Waterfall Latitude: 19.7153
Waterfall Longitude: -155.14025

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.

Waiale_Falls_004_03092007 - Wai'ale Falls
Wai’ale Falls

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.

Waiale_Falls_018_03092007 - Closer look at the upper drop of Wai'ale Falls
Closer look at the upper drop of Wai’ale Falls

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.

Authorities

Wai’ale Falls resides in Wailuku River State Park on the Big Island of Hawaii. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) website.

Waiale_Falls_009_03092007 - Another look at Wai'ale Falls from the road bridge
Waiale_Falls_008_jx_03092007 - Me scrambling through the overgrowth
Waiale_Falls_016_03092007 - I managed to get this view of the upper tier of Wai'ale Falls as the trail became too overgrown for me to confidently proceed
Waiale_Falls_006_jx_03092007 - During our first visit to this waterfall back in March 2007, someone had set up a flower memorial on the road bridge
Waiale_Falls_001_03092007 - Last look at Wai'ale Falls from the road bridge as we left
Waiale_Falls_011_02022008 - Wai'ale Falls in a very swollen state during an intense rain storm during Super Bowl XLII Weekend. Compare this photo with the previous one just to see how intense the flooding can get

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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.

Fixated on the raging falls from the bridge

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Tagged with: hilo, hawaii, big island, waterfall, roadside, scramble, bridge, waiale, wai'ale, wailuku river



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Johnny Cheng

About Johnny Cheng

Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of 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.
Read More About Johnny | A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls.