Where is Akaka Falls State Park
Akaka Falls State Park is not the most accessible option in the United States, but for visitors to Hawaii, it is a wonder. The smaller state park is located on the Big Island of Hawaii, just off the “Hawaii Belt Road” at the end of Hawaii Highway 220.
Located a mere 11 miles from the town of Hilo, Akaka Falls is a must-visit for vacationers to Hawaii. The park is situated just inland from the Big Island’s northeast coastline and offers a look at one of Hawaii’s most impressive waterfalls, Akaka Falls.
How Big is Akaka Falls State Park
In comparison to most state parks across the continental United States, Akaka Falls State Park is certainly on the smaller side. The park is truly designed to highlight the amazing Akaka Falls US State Park and only encompasses a few miles of protected land, including the famous waterfalls located inside the park.
When it comes to size, the way Akaka Falls State Park impresses is in the height of these falls. The park’s Akaka Falls soar to a spectacular 422 feet, making this one of the island's highest waterfalls. Other tall waterfalls include Waiilikahi Falls on the Island of Hawaii, Honokohau Falls on Kauai, and Oloupena Falls on Molokai. In comparison, Hawaii’s tallest waterfall, Oloupena Falls crashes down from a staggering 2,953 feet.
Akaka Falls State Park Weather
The eastern side of Hawaii is known for rain. This tropical paradise only maintains its reputation by receiving roughly 130 inches of rain a year. That is nearly 3.5 times more rain than falls in Seattle or Portland each year and more than the Amazon receives, on average. This makes Akaka Falls State Park a beautiful rainforest.
Some visitors to Akaka Falls State Park question if it ever stops raining here, and the response is yes. However, what makes Akaka Falls State Park an enjoyable trip rain or shine is the consistent year-round temperatures. The daily high temperature is rarely above 85°F or below 65°F, making this part of Hawaii the perfect destination during colder months in the Northern Hemisphere.
When did Akaka Falls Become a State Park
Akaka Falls State Park was established by the Division of State Parks, a branch of the Department of Land and Natural Resources in Hawaii to protect the natural wonder and spectacle of Akaka Falls. As one of the state's biggest waterfalls, Akaka Falls has long attracted visitors, and the state park designation ensures trails and conversation are respected, while environmental impact is mitigated.
Things to do in Akaka Falls State Park
Our State Park Visitors Guide lists the most notable and popular adventures found in the park below:
Each year thousands of people visit Akaka Falls State Park for one specific purpose, to view the 422 waterfalls. However, what Akaka Falls State Park lacks in variety of sights and things to do, it makes up for with one spectacular activity.
The hike to Akaka Falls is a .4-mile trail, starting and ending at the state park’s only parking lot. Visitors must pay a $10 fee per vehicle or $5 fee per walk-in. This fee is waived for all Hawaii residents, making it a morning or afternoon excursion from Hilo.
Once parked, visitors are welcomed by more of the lush rainforest that is famous along the Hawaii Belt Road. The Hawaii Belt Road is known as the Māmalahoa Highway to many locals and comprises state routes 11, 19, and 190. As the name suggests, driving these rights completes a full loop of the Island of Hawaii, including a stop of Akaka Falls State Park.
The word akaka means split or crack in Hawaiian and is an apt term to describe the tall and narrow Akaka Falls. Akaka Falls appears from a split in the dense jungle. From a distance, the inspiration for the waterfall’s name becomes even more apparent, as the falls are a slender descent amidst the tropical plants and mossy rocks.
Unfortunately, swimming or wading are prohibited at Akaka Falls, so visitors must be content to look and photograph the gigantic waterfall.
When to go to Akaka Falls State Park
In 2019, the Islands of Hawaii crossed a crucial milestone, 10 million visitors in a single year. This was a record number of people to vacation on the tropical islands and showcases one of the best reasons to visit Hawaii, there is rarely a bad time of year to visit. No matter the month or week, Hawaii has something to offer.
For visitors wanting to explore Hawaii’s volcanos and waterfalls, the news is even better. Most visitors to Hawaii skip over the Big Island, where a Akaka Falls State Park and other impressive waterfalls are located. That isn’t a reason to sleep on this destination, with 130 inches of rainfall, Akaka Falls State Park is thundering all year long and worth the trip.
The best time of day to visit Akaka Falls State Park is in the morning. The state park opens at 8:30am, but most visitors take their time driving from Hilo, Honomu, or even Waimea to visit. Arriving before 11am can mean you have a few minutes at the falls all to yourself before crowds arrive.
Must-Have Things to Bring to Akaka Falls State Park
Akaka Falls State Park is the perfect destination for a relaxing morning or early afternoon excursion. While people don’t tend to spend more than two hours marveling at the waterfalls and exploring the tropical foliage, it is still best to come prepared. List of Parks suggest the following items should be considered by every visitor traveling to Douthat State Park.
First timers to the Big Island of Hawaii may wonder if there are ever days without rainfall, which is reason enough to grab your raincoat before heading to Akaka Falls State Park. There is precipitation 253 days a year, so even when it starts out sunny in the morning, clouds can quickly roll off the coast.
For visitors that forgot to pack a rain jacket, an umbrella is a good alternative. The trail out to Akaka Falls isn’t overly steep, allowing for visitors to carry an umbrella while you hike.
Gym or Tennis Shoes
While the trail to Akaka Falls is paved, the steps and incline up to the falls can be slippery when wet, which is most of the time. It is wise to have a pair of gym or tennis shoes to tackle the short loop.
Even for a short visit, bring some water for the hike. Hawaii’s high humidity can be deceiving to visitors, who forget to drink enough water in the damp environment.
Where to Stay in Akaka Falls State Park
There are no accommodation options within Akaka Falls State Park and overnight camping or parking in the visitors’ lot is prohibited. Instead, visitors to Akaka Falls State Park can check out accommodation options in Honomu, just up the road, or nearby Hilo.
Honomu has a handful of oceanfront and ocean adjacent options for those on a budget, including Hamakua Guesthouse and Camping Cabanas and Honomu Inn. The Palms Cliff House Inn and Mahana House Country Inn are additional options.
In HIo, there is a full range of hotels and accommodation. If you are planning to visit Akaka Falls State Park, Hilo is a reliable option for villas, traditional hotels, and even hostels. Prices for accommodation likewise varies from $60 a night for a shared room to hundreds a night for a private villa.
Food Nearby Akaka Falls State Park
There are not any restaurants, convenience stores, or shops located within Akaka Falls State Park. In fact, visitors are asked to pay by using an app, in lieu of the park having a visitor’s center or entrance gate. It is necessary to venture to Honomu or Hilo for a snack or meal.
Honomu is a very small town, with a permanent population of 509 people. There is a coffee shop called Hilo Sharks Coffee Honomu for caffeine and quick eats and Mr. Ed's Bakery for a sweet treat in the morning.
More variety is in Hilo, about 11 miles away from the park entrance. There you can find options like Hawaiian Style Cafe Hilo, Puka Puka Kitchen, Hilo Lunch Shop, and Moon and Turtle, among so many other restaurants for lunch or dinner.
Airports Near Akaka Falls State Park
The Island of Hawaii has two international airports. Ellison Onizuka Kona International Airport or KOA is in Keahole Point, the most western point on the Big Island. KOA is a long drive around from Akaka Falls State Park, but it is the primary airport for the island and has the majority of inbound and outbound flights a day.
In comparison, Hilo International Airport is a short drive away from Akaka Falls State Park but is far more limited in the flight options. This may cause a conundrum for certain visitors balancing timetables and flight options, but for many the drive from KOA is worth it. Along the way are active volcanoes, stunning coastline, and the waterfalls that bring people to Hawaii in the first place.