Waterfalls in Hawaii

A Waterfall Trek on Hawaii’s Big Island

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Toward the end of our time on the Big Island, we went on an outing with Hawaii Forest & Trail. The company is one of the biggest adventure operators on the isle and offers a number of different excursions—from volcano treks to coffee plantation tours. But we had another focus entirely: waterfalls.

It’s funny that much of the island is volcanic rock, then you arrive on the far northern coast and BOOM! Lush rainforest, gushing waterfalls. Another interesting thing to note about the Big Island is that it has 20 of the world’s 22 climates (only lacking desert and Arctic), so while where we were staying on the Kohala Coast never rains—one resident said, “it might rain two days a year here…if that”—obviously, this isn’t the case in the north, where the waterfalls flow freely.

But first: We had to get there.

The company picked up all 12 passengers at our various resorts, then transported us to the small town of Hawi. From there, we boarded our new mode of transport: a 6WD Pinzgauer. (Don’t worry, I had never heard of such a contraption either until I went in one. SVV probably had, but then again, he’s a geek when it comes to dude stuff like cars, planes, space and Pinzgauers.)

Here’s where I made a huge mistake and decided to be the last one to board. (I’m severely claustrophobic and try to be as close to an escape route as I can get, always.) Well, the back of the bus had no handrails to hold onto, so I was bouncing around freely—just one seatbelt strap containing me from flying out the open window—as we made our way through fields and sugar cane roads to the departure point of our hike. I’m glad I took Bonine before we left: Bouncy rides are so much more fun when you’re not the one vomiting out the back! (As was the case on our recent whale-watching excursion out of San Francisco.)

We walked through fields of taro and sweet potatoes (my favorite), along rivers and ravines. One of our fellow trekkers was even a fellow Vol fan—from Australia, at that! Anyone sporting Big Orange is someone with whom I’d like to be stuck in a rainforest.

We hiked a total of two miles round trip (in a three-hour period). And hike was an overstatement. It was more like “a leisurely stroll through the forest with a few sloping inclines.”

There were bridges to cross over—including a suspension one (who doesn’t love suspension bridges? other than my acrophobic mother, of course)—and we visited six waterfalls throughout the trek.

Two of them we could swim under. One of them we could jump off.

Er, not that one. Though I would have tried if they’d let me!

Rather…this one! When our guide paused and said “it’s swim time!” SVV and I were the first ones to strip down to our skivvies and launch ourselves off of the ledge and into the water. Eventually, one other man joined us, but the rest of our group members were wimps. It was cold, but then again, it’s not every day you get to swim in waterfalls in Hawaii.

By the second swim stop, however, my teeth were chattering, so SVV manned up and went in solo.

(I posed for photos instead.) But the most scenic part of our day was yet to come.

We arrived back at the Bouncemobile after roughly three hours “in the wild,” climbed in and bounced back to the main highway. We bounced over through a gate onto private property. We bounced through fields of wild…donkeys. (Did I mention our ride was bouncy?) And then we stopped—just at the right moment, too, as we’d reached a cliff.

Hawaii Forest & Trail has exclusive use to this plot of land and takes some of its tour groups here for a post-hike picnic. Not shabby, right? REI actually shot the cover of a recent catalog in this very spot! I can’t help but think it reminds me of the dramatic South African coastline.

Can you think of a better setting for a spot of lunch?

COMMENTS
  • April 27, 2011

    gorgeous photos kristen! the 2nd bridge pic and your “off limits” pic are my faves…and i may have to borrow that idea 😉 haven’t been to hawaii yet but this looks like so much fun!

    • April 27, 2011
      Kristin

      My butt has NO place on the Internet. I prefer to be fully clothed when appearing in a public forum, heh =)

  • April 27, 2011

    AH I want to go to Hawaii!! I totally would have jumped in the water with you- cold or not- it’s a freakin’ waterfall!

    • April 27, 2011
      Kristin

      Oh I totally know you would have been in there with me–probably would have beaten me in, in fact =)

  • April 27, 2011

    Can’t get away from the big orange 🙂

    • April 27, 2011
      Kristin

      Or rather, don’t want to!

  • April 27, 2011

    I’m pretty sure that coast line is the photo on my credit card…you know, the inspirationaly one to remind me to save my pennies for a fantastic trip instead of blow them on shoes and books and lunches. 😉

    xox

  • April 27, 2011

    I’d love to go to Hawaii. I planned to go last year but then I got pregnant. It sounds so beautiful!

    • April 27, 2011
      Kristin

      Well, luckily, it’s still a doable flight from Sydney! Nine hours, I think? Versus the two connecting flights (an hour to LA, an hour layover, five-and-a-half hours to Kona) for me, so not a whole lot of difference! Maybe when the babies are older 😉

      • April 27, 2011

        Oh yes, I’m sure I’ll make it some day. My travelling days aint done yet! But I think exploring Australia some more is in my immediate future before I jet off to Hawaii.

  • April 27, 2011

    All of these pictures are breathtaking…but that bridge shot? AMAZING!

    • April 27, 2011
      Kristin

      Thanks, lady!

  • April 27, 2011

    Gorgeous! We hiked to an amazing waterfall in Kauai and saw many, many others from boat and car. I just love Hawaii…I wanna go back!

    • April 27, 2011
      Kristin

      I always think of waterfalls when I envision Kauai, but was surprised to see them in such abundance on the “volcanic isle.”

  • April 27, 2011

    Wow what a fun day! I love the last pic of you and SVV!!! What a gorgeous spot.

  • April 27, 2011

    I had no idea that the Big Island had so many different climates! That’s pretty impressive. And the views don’t look bad either.

  • April 28, 2011

    Gorgeous! You’re seriously making me ache to plan a return Hawaii trip. Too funny, when we were there last year, I also encountered a fellow Vol while exploring the Road to Hana. 🙂

  • April 28, 2011

    “the bouncemobile” haha

  • April 28, 2011

    I will now have that TLC song stuck in my head for the rest of the day. Thanks for that. 🙂

  • April 28, 2011

    Lovely! Those pics bring back alot of memories for me!

  • April 28, 2011

    Well as soon as I read your post title th TLC song immediately started buzzing about in my brain! (thanks!).
    It sure seems like you had a great day-you must have been so tired at the end of it though!
    Oh and by the way….i HATE suspension bridges!! I have crossed my fair share of them both times on our treks in Nepal and still hate them…..why does Anthony always have to jump up and down on them while I am walking across them!?!?
    Great photos of the day too! 🙂

    • April 29, 2011
      Kristin

      Hehe, all a part of my evil plan to bring TLC back! (Or not. I’ve moved on…though the Glee remix of “Unpretty” this week did bring back memories!”)

  • April 28, 2011

    Holy. Asscrackers. Gorgeous. Just freaking gorgeous.

  • April 28, 2011

    My husband where’s a “Power-T” hat all the time and because of it, we meet fellow Vol fans everywhere we go – from trails in Acadia to the airport in Athens, Greece. It never fails. And now that I’ve moved to the rainy Pacific Northwest, Hawaii is on the radar…particularly the less rainy area you mentioned in this post. Thanks for all the Hawaii-info but I can’t say I’m thankful for the TLC song that is currently stuck in my head. Happy travels!

    • April 29, 2011
      Kristin

      I’m sure that we will meet somewhere on the road then, as we’ll be able to spot each other across a crowded airport thanks to our husbands in their glaring orange Power-Ts! (SVV didn’t go to UT, but as means to fit into the fam, he’s adopted the Big Orange way of life. I couldn’t be more proud.)

      And yes, you CAN get to Hawaii for cheap from the Pac NW. I see fares listed as low as $99 each way (though we used Alaska Airlines miles for ours). Look into flying to Honolulu, as it’s much cheaper and then taking Hawaiian Air inter-island flights if you want to see other islands.

  • April 28, 2011
    Joan van Velsor

    Love the photos and the story, “bouncemobile” indeed. The off limits symbol is genius, now how do I put it on family photos? Last shot of you and Scott is gorgeous…power couple!

    • April 28, 2011
      Kristin

      I can give you an easy Photoshop tutorial 😉

  • April 28, 2011

    Definitely giggled at your OFF LIMITS censored shot. I totally would have jumped in as well!

    • April 29, 2011
      Kristin

      I’m modest…what can I say? I hate being in a bikini period, let alone on the Internet!

  • May 1, 2011
    JeJe

    kinda looks like LOST…

  • May 4, 2011

    The nature at the pics looks amazing! The best one is off limits 😀

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