Akaka Falls State Park

akaka falls

As a family that loves to discover new places and make memories together, we were thrilled to visit Akaka Falls State Park on the beautiful Big Island of Hawaii. From the moment we stepped into the lush surroundings of the park, we knew we were in for an unforgettable adventure. If you’re looking for unique things to do on the Big Island, Hawaii, this park is a must-visit destination that will captivate both young and old. Let’s dive into our journey and share the wonders of this remarkable place!

akaka falls path waterfall
Path leading to the Akaka Falls.

Unveiling the History of Akaka Falls State Park

Before we get into the exciting activities, let’s take a quick trip back in time to understand the history of Akaka Falls State Park. This incredible park holds stories from ancient Hawaiian times, when the land was rich with native plants and wildlife. The indigenous people of Hawaii believed that these lands were sacred, and they would gather here for various ceremonies. The park’s name, “Akaka,” even originates from a Hawaiian word meaning “a rent, split, or crack,” describing the stunning gorge that the waterfall flows into. Imagine standing where generations of Hawaiians once stood, surrounded by the same natural beauty!

akaka falls trail banyan trees
Banyan tree along the trail.

Hiking Amidst Spectacular Beauty

One of the most exciting things we did at Akaka Falls State Park was exploring the hiking trails. The “Akaka Falls Loop Trail” is a family-friendly pathway that winds through lush rainforest, leading us to not one, but two breathtaking waterfalls! The first waterfall, Kahuna Falls, stands at an impressive 100 feet tall. The misty atmosphere around it makes you feel like you’re in a magical wonderland. And then, the main event, Akaka Falls, cascades an astounding 442 feet! The sound of the water rushing down and the cool breeze on our faces left us in awe.

staircase akaka falls
There are a lot of stairs on this little trail!

Combining the Hawaiian heat and tropical forest, the air feel pretty thick and moist. We were surprised at the level of difficulty because of the amount of stairs. Don’t get me wrong, it is not a tough hike. However, the trail is not accessible for strollers or wheelchairs and the hike would be difficult for people with health problems or young children.

Discovering Unique Plant Life

The park is also a fantastic place for budding young scientists. We found ourselves surrounded by a diverse range of plants, including ferns, orchids, and colorful flowers. Some of these plants are found only in Hawaii, making this a perfect opportunity to learn about unique flora. The cool, damp environment of the rainforest nurtures these plants, creating a vibrant and captivating scene that’s like no other.

akaka falls beefsteak heliconia
Beefsteak heliconia line the trail.

Connecting with Nature’s Wonders

Our family had a blast connecting with nature in this beautiful setting. We spotted colorful birds flitting between trees and even glimpsed a few playful geckos. It was a great chance to teach our kids about the importance of preserving the environment and protecting these amazing creatures and their habitats.

akaka falls fallen bambo
Mossy textures on fallen bamboo along the trail.

Practical Tips for Your Visit

Before you head to Akaka Falls State Park, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Allotted time: 1 hour – You should be able to enjoyably walk the trail and take pictures within an hour.
  • If you are short on time or maybe too out of shape to do the entire loop, make sure you take a left at the start of the trail. This is the shortest route to the waterfall.
  • Be prepared to get wet. Anytime you are outside for any length of time on the Northeastern side of the Big Island you can expect to get rained on.
  • As of this writing the fees for the state park were $5 per car OR $1 per person.  They use the honor system, so don’t cheat.

Visiting Akaka Falls State Park was truly an unforgettable experience for our family. We immersed ourselves in the history, marveled at the waterfalls, and connected with the unique plants and animals that call this park home. If you’re looking for a family-friendly adventure filled with awe-inspiring sights, make sure to add Akaka Falls State Park to your list of unique things to do on the Big Island, Hawaii. It’s a journey that will leave you with cherished memories for years to come.