Waiānuenue (Rainbow Falls) – Hilo, Hawaii - Atlas Obscura

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Waiānuenue (Rainbow Falls)

This legendary urban waterfall creates a dazzling display of rainbows. 


This breathtaking 80-foot waterfall is located inside Wailuku River State Park, which is located in the city of Hilo. The natural wonder was thought to be the home of the Hawaiian moon goddess known as Hina. Legend has it that Hina lives in the lava cave behind the falls, only coming out on certain nights. 

The falls are known as Waiānuenue in the native Hawaiian language. The word roughly translates to “rainbow water,” and it’s easy to see why. Almost every morning at around 10 a.m., when the sun faces the waterfall, the falls produce a dazzling series of rainbows. The falls provide a peaceful oasis and a reminder of the Big Island’s deep connection to Hawaiian mythology.

There’s a viewing platform right next to the parking lot and another one at the top of Rainbow Falls. When visitors climb the stairs towards the top, they’ll notice a small pathway. Hidden behind the lush vegetation are some amazing banyan trees.

Just a mile upstream of the Wailuku River is another viewing platform. This one overlooks the boiling pots, a series of terraced pools in which the turbulent water appears to be boiling, and allows visitors to catch a glimpse of yet another waterfall called Pe’epe’e Falls.



Know Before You Go

The best view of the falls can be had by climbing up a steep set of rocky stairs to a viewing area. It's popular with both tourists and locals, although locals tend to go earlier in the morning or later in the day to avoid the crowds. 

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