Windward Waterfalls

The wet side of the island. That means rainbows and waterfalls to us.

Most famous is Akaka Falls It's the farthest point on a waterfall tour, and includes a half-mile trail looping through jungle vegetation. Akaka Falls itself will amaze and mesmerize. The real charm of the park, though, is in the smaller scenarios you encounter along the trail.

We can make Akaka Falls the midpoint of our adventure.

It's nice to get an early start with a waterfall day to avoid glare. Depending on our mood and the weather, we might zip right up to Akaka Falls. Taking in its sister waterfall farther down the stream at the ocean, we can visit Kolekole beach park. Then a leisurely meander back along the Four Mile Scenic Drive. This relic of the old road winds down from the highway, through a series of gulches and over picturesque one-lane bridges. It should start with a snack at the What's Shakin' smoothy shack. The smoothies are good and the farm where they grow their ingredients worth a view. Then the drive, with Onomea Bay in the middle. Endless layers of green surround us: ferns growing on vines growing on trees surrounded by ginger, all embraced by mossy mini-worlds.

Dropping back down into Hilo, we have two more locally famous waterfalls to enjoy: Waianuenue (Rainbow) Falls and Pe'epe'e Falls better known for its Boiling Pots, a series of bubbling pools below the falls.

We'll set out to see waterfalls, and enjoy the treasures we find along the way. That's how we do things in Hawaii. The streams along the Hamakua coast have cut deep gulches in fertile volcanic soil over the years. Every plant possible crowds their steep sides. Add in some moss-covered turn-of-the-century bridges... ...visions of waves below... ...possible surfers, whales, or turtles in the water...

...and we might just have to extend our drive to take in Laupahoehoe Point and the Waipio Valley Overlook. All of which might necessitate a stop at Tex Drive In for some mango-filled malasadas. Because why not?