But if you’ll be staying on the Kona coast during your time on the Big Island, as long as you recognize it involves more driving time (maybe 1.5 to 2 hours each way) and don’t mind it, then it can be reasonable to make a trip to Akaka Falls from Kona too.
You can find a few more things to do in the area of Hilo and along the way from Kona to Akaka Falls (and back) to make the trip worth it.
Top things to remember for your visit to Akaka Falls State Park
1. Take the “circle route” trail to Akaka Falls
For a slightly longer nature walk and a more dramatic approach to the waterfalls
2. Walk into the banyan trees
For some fun walking through trees!
3. Enjoy the views of Akaka Falls!!
With a 400 ft drop
More below about how to spend your time at Akaka Falls State Park!
Here's some info on Hawaii trip prep!
- Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii
- The perfect type of shirt for swimming in Hawaii
- Do you need water shoes for Hawaii?
- THE top things to pack for Hawaii
The best of the Big Island:
- Things to do in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
- Where to see lava fields on the Big Island
- The big list of things to do on the Big Island
More about WHY to remember these things when you go see Akaka Falls!
aka how to spend a perfect hour at Akaka Falls state park
You can get a glimpse of Akaka Falls for free by showing up to the state park.
But there’s an entry fee to the best overlook area.
It’s $1 per person to walk on the Akaka Falls trail. See updated entry fee info here.
So once you’ve paid your entrance fee (and maybe a parking fee depending on where you park – park outside the state park for free), you can start on the trail by taking the stairs down.
Within a minute or so, you’ll come across a sign with trail route options to get to Akaka Falls.
You can choose to go directly to the waterfalls to get here quickly.
Or you can go on the circle route for the slightly longer way to get to the waterfalls.
If you have an hour (or really even 30 minutes if you want to be quick), then definitely go for the circle route of the Akaka Falls Trail!
Akaka Falls Trail circle route
And then there’s another waterfall overlook on this trail that you’ll reach before you see Akaka Falls.
You comes across a small little outlook area for Kahuna Falls.
You don’t really get a good view of it, but you can hear it.
According to Hawaii state parks, Kahuna Falls is:
A cascading falls that drops 300 feet (100 meters) into Kolekole Stream.
Then you’ll keep walking and soon you’ll find yourself in the area to access the banyan tree trail.
Walking into banyan trees
As I approached the banyan trees, I saw some people basically climbing into a bunch of trees.
It turns out, there’s what looks like a small little trail that you can take to have a short little walk through banyan trees.
And it is a short little walk!
There’s no real destination, except to be surrounded by the trees.
It’s more or less for the experience of walking through a network of trees that can be a fun little thing.
So once you’ve had your fill of being inside banyan trees, you can walk back out the same way you came.
And then continue on the trail.
Approaching the waterfalls
Coming from the way of the circle route means that you can start to see the waterfalls from further away, and then you get closer and closer to them.
Waterfalls overlook area
You’ll reach the same waterfalls overlook area that you can get to on the quicker more direct trail.
This is the closest you’ll be able to get a view of Akaka Falls.
Enjoy seeing one of the best waterfalls on the Big Island!!
According to Hawaii state parks, Akaka Falls is:
A straight fall of 442 feet
Finish the rest of the trail
And once you’ve had your fill of waterfalls, you’ll finish the rest of the trail to make a loop back around to the parking lot.
Can you swim at Akaka Falls?
You won’t be able to access the bottom of Akaka Falls so you can’t even attempt to swim at these waterfalls.
There are streams that are accessible at the state park that cross the Akaka Falls trail, but there’s no swimming there too.
As a side note, if you decide to swim at other waterfalls in Hawaii, one of the dangers in Hawaii when swimming in fresh water is the bacteria called leptospirosis. So it’s best not to go swimming with open wounds.
How much time do you need at Akaka Falls?
Drive up to the state park, get a small glimpse of the waterfalls without hiking the trail.
This will be free.
Pay the $1 entry fee.
Then once on the trail, go for the direct route to get to the main waterfalls overlook spot.
30 minutes to an hour
If you give yourself 30 minutes or longer, you can take your time as you walk the circle route of the Akaka Falls trail and through green scenery!
Visiting Akaka Falls when it rains
I made a trip to Akaka Falls on a rainy day in Hilo.
So in case you’re wondering what to do on the Big Island in rainy weather, a visit to Akaka Falls can be a good idea!
Rain means increased water for the waterfalls, and it can also be nice to walk through a little rainforest-like area in the rain too!
With the Hilo side being the “rainy side” of the island (what can make it more green!), it’s very possible that it’ll rain on the day you want to go see the waterfalls too.
Don’t let this kind of weather stop you from visiting the waterfalls!
More things to do near Akaka Falls
Once you’ve finished up with Akaka Falls, a few minutes drive from the waterfalls is a place you can drink coconut water and other tropical fruits.
You’ll see this on your way to Akaka Falls too.
It’ll be on your left side as you’re driving TO the state park, so it’ll be on the right side as you’re driving FROM the state park.
And then, you might consider sticking around somewhat near Hilo!
Give a look to these things to do in Hilo:
- Rainbow Falls (for a waterfall day)
- Kaumana Caves (for a cave hike through lava tube caves)
- Carlsmith Beach Park (for a nice beach park with a chance to see turtles)
- Richardson Ocean Beach Park (for a black sand beach with a chance to see turtles)
If you’re making it a day trip to Akaka Falls from Kona, and you want to take a different route back (recommended – it might be a longer drive but it’ll give you another taste of the Big Island!)… or if you’ll be driving from Hilo to Kona on the day you visit Akaka Falls… then you can also consider taking the northern route to get to Kona. That way, you can stop by either Waipio Valley or Pololu Valley… or both depending on how much time you have! For more about each of these places, have a look at the best beach hikes on the Big Island or black sand beaches on the Big Island.
Also see some more Hawaii state parks worth visiting on the Big Island!
HAPPY AKAKA FALLS VISIT!
Top things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!
The ultimate beach towel for travel?!Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
Possibly among the best Big Island maps for tourists!The Franko maps of Hawaii have a high level of detail for activities and it's beachproof aka waterproof. There's an "adventure" guide map and a "snorkel/dive" guide map. Plus a wall map for home to get you excited for your upcoming trip to Kona!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phoneYou can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're snorkeling.
Be sure to take a look at the reviews of these amazing tours on the Big Island:
- Sailing the ocean with a sail + snorkel trip
- Kona's most popular tour: Swimming in the ocean at night with manta rays (likely to sell out)
- Star gazing at Mauna Kea volcano
- Dream Hawaii helicopter flight: Circle the Big Island to see Hawaii's volcanoes from above
- Sail the ocean in the evening on the Captain Cook historical sunset dinner cruise (likely to sell out)