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Day 1 – Rainbow Falls, Akaka Falls and Onomea Bay

Day 1 – Rainbow Falls, Akaka Falls and Onomea Bay

This is a part of our 9-day Big Island Itinerary.

Monday, December 25. We slept longer today, because it’s Christmas and some of the places we would see otherwise will be closed. We are driving north from Hilo, along the scenic Hamakua coast.

Our first stop stop is Rainbow Falls, a 10-15 minute drive from the hotel. The waterfall view is just a few steps away from the parking lot. We took a trail on the left going up the waterfall. The trail took us through a “banyan forest” with a large majestic banyan tree in the center – absolutely amazing. We spend around 30 minutes admiring the banyan from different angles and taking photos. Then we walked to the top of the Rainbow Falls, and looked down from the top – and we caught a shimmering rainbow from this angle!

View from the top of Rainbow Falls, Hilo
View from the top of Rainbow Falls, Hilo

Our next stop was at Honoli’i Beach Part – a magnet for those who surf or bodyboard. There is no parking lot but we found a parking spot along the road after 5-7 minutes of wait. We had to do some hiking down to the beach and then back up of course. The surf is good there, but the beach is very rocky. There is some grass to lie down and a couple of tables with benches. Nice spot to surf or have a picnic while watching others surfing.

Back to the car and on our way to Onomea Bay. We passed Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden on the left – it is closed on Christmas. A little further north, we noticed the sign for Onomea Trail. We parked the car along the road, and went to explore the sights along the Donkey Trail. It was raining just slightly on and off and we noticed a few mosquitoes. The trail follows Onomea steam. It is just over a mile round trip with about 160 feet elevation change, and it reaches Onomea Bay where the stream flows into the ocan. Onomea Bay doesn’t have any beaches, and I wouldn’t want to swim in the stream because it is known to have bacteria. Other than that, Onomea Bay is well worth visiting and the end of the trail is a very scenic and secluded spot!

Onomea Bay - the sign and the view at the end of the Donkey Trail
Onomea Bay – the sign and the view at the end of the Donkey Trail

Next stop – Akaka Falls State Park. This famous Big Island waterfall – Akaka Falls – at 442 feet tall is twice as high as Niagara Falls, but much more narrow of course! A paved loop trail goes through a lush rainforest, through bamboo groves and wild orchids. with open views of the surrounding mountains. We started walking to the right, past 100-feet tall Kahuna Falls, and after 20-25-minute slow walk reached Akaka Falls. From the viewing area we saw the entire Akaka Falls top to bottom with its pool. Spectacular views! Great photos and selfies too

Akaka Falls - the paved walk with the waterfall in the background
Akaka Falls – the paved walk with the waterfall in the background

After Akaka Falls, we started to drive north again towards Honoka’a – the largest town on Hamakua coast. Honoka’a has a rich history of sugar plantations and cattle ranches, and is a good destination to see some historical buildings and to buy unique souvenirs… but not today. Having remembered that it’s Christmas, we decided to turn back to the hotel. Walking in empty city with closed businesses didn’t appeal to us. We will add Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden and Honoka’a town to our wish list for the next Big Island vacation.

We stopped at the fruit stand, and had a large coconut cut open. We drank the water and then they removed and cut the meat to take home with us.
We stopped at the fruit stand, and had a large coconut cut open. We drank the water and then they removed and cut the meat to take home with us.

Previous: Arrival – Grand Naniloa Hotel Hilo and the Banyan Drive

Next: Day 2 – Puna District, Hot Ponds, Walk from Kalapana to Active Lava Flows

Back to 9-day Big Island Itinerary

 

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