One of my favorite things to not only visit while travelling through the wilderness, but also one of my favorite sights to photograph, is a waterfall. Waterfalls are always a unique display of nature, some trickling, some with water flows on an unimaginably large scale. Depending on where the waterfall is, the surrounding landscape is always shaped in a fantastic way from the water.
That being said, not all waterfalls are made equal. Presentation of a waterfall can make the difference between a spectacular view and a terrible one. While the falls themselves may be beautiful, viewing them from far away, or way up high is usually some of the worse ways to see a waterfall. Unfortunately it seems that the way Akaka Falls state park on the Big Island of Hawaii made both of these mistakes.
Akaka Falls is a good 1.5 hour drive from Kona where we stayed, and since our flight wasn’t scheduled to depart until very late, we took some time on the last day to pay a visit to the falls. Arriving, we were asked to pay for parking… despite having to park on the road since the actual parking lot was full… with 10 cars or so. Luckily the charge was less than if we had parked in the lot, but I still find it funny to charge for parking roadside.
Starting down the stairs, you quickly come to a split in the walkway, we took the left split, don't worry if you take the right one, it loops right back around on itself. The whole area is a rainforest like environment, lots of streams, vegetation and mini waterfalls all around. Taking the left path is the quickest way to the main falls… and boy is the presentation terrible. Coming up on the falls, you are almost level with the top of the dropping water. It’s an unimpressive way to present such a beautiful natural creation, and on top of this, you are across the valley from it. Don’t get me wrong, the falling curtain of water is beautiful, surrounded by greenery growing from the mists of the crash of the water. It is an undoubtedly impressive site, but shown off in such a poor way that it’s very disappointing.
If you continue on, the path brings you to one more set of water cascades, but these are even more unimpressive and hard to see from the presented angle. Only a few people can get in the lookout at one time and you need to look through a narrow area, at a set of falls with less water, in an area farther away. Really I can’t say this was a good use of time on the island. For us it was a decent way to kill some time before our flight, I almost wish we had tried to see the Green Sand beaches or something else, this was not an impressive place to visit, and I would actually suggest skipping this one. It looks great in photos, but me and my fiance both agreed that this wasn’t really what we had hoped it to be.
Generally I’d suggest finding a better use of your time, if you are hitting it up on your way to another attraction, by all means check it out, but I wouldn’t make it a specific destination.
Rocket Scientist, Travel Junkie, and Ruler of the 4th Moon of Omicron Persei 8