Wailele is the Hawaiian word for waterfall. The literal translation—leaping (lele) water (wai)i—gives you a good sense for the majesty and ethereal beauty of these natural phenomena.
On the Big Island, you’ll find the majority of the island’s waterfalls on its eastern side. Hawaii’s tradewinds blow from the East and Northeast, which means that the damp, ocean air makes first landfall on the eastern coast of the Big Island. As it meets the slopes of the volcanoes that created the island, the air forms condensation and, eventually, rain. All this precipitation has made Hilo and its surrounding areas into a lush, verdant landscape, dotted by botanical gardens and, of course, waterfalls.ii
If you’re spending your time near Hilo and you’d like to see these leaping waters for yourself, we’ve put together a guide to all the waterfalls in the area. Additionally, if you’re up for a little road trip, we’ve also included a few outliers that are worthy of some drive time.
Waterfalls in and Around Hilo Town