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Hiilawe Waterfall

Lower part of Hiilawe Falls in Waipio Valley, Hawaii
Lower part of Hiilawe Falls in Waipio Valley / Paul Hirst, Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 2.5

WorldBlue  In short

One of the most spectacular waterfalls in Hawaii is Hiilawe Waterfall – spectacular 442 m tall waterfall majestically sliding down along the steep cliff.

4.2 out of 10 stars 42.0%

GPS coordinates
20.0964 N 155.5962 W
Location, address
Oceania, United States, Hawaii, near the north-eastern coast (Kohala Coast) of Hawaii Big Island, in Waipio Valley
Alternate names
Hi’ilawe Falls
442 m
Highest drop
366 m
Ëś 15 m

Map of the site

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WorldYellow In detail


Hiilave waterfall is a very tall, nearly vertical waterfall. It has a smaller upper drop and a giant, 366 m tall lower drop.

Thanks to the fertile soil and almost never-ending rain the walls and bed of Waipio Valley are covered with rainforest thus making the scenery even more beautiful. Unfortunately for the most part of the year, the valley is hidden in clouds and fog.

Near Hiilawe waterfall is another, much smaller waterfall – Hakaloa Falls – which for most time is dry.

In order to access the base of falls one should cross private property. This is allowed only with guides who have appropriate permission.

Hiilawe Waterfall, Hawaii
Hiilawe Waterfall / Les Williams, Flickr / CC BY-SA 2.0

Man made changes

Local sugar company changed the local hydrography in 1989. There was made a ditch which diverted the stream of Hakaloa Falls to Hiilawe Falls. Unfortunately due to dams the stream of both former falls became weaker and as a result now Hakaloa Falls are dry for most part of the year and Hiilawe Falls also seem to be weaker than before. Nowadays these dams and ditches seem to be less needed but no one thus far has restored the original situation.


Most places in Hawaii have their own legends but Waipio Valley in this respect is a special place. It is known also as the Valley of the Kings – here was raised King Kamehameha I and other local kings before him. During the times of Kamehameha, this valley was declared to be a place with special spiritual power. According to local beliefs, people who live in this valley will not experience bad events during their life.

Hiilawe Waterfall, Hawai'i
Hiilawe Waterfall / Image from 1880, Hawaii State Archives, Wikimedia Commons / public domain

Nevertheless, according to local legends the waterfall was created through bad events. Once upon a time a young couple – Hiilawe and Kakalaoa were hiding in this valley from god Lono who wanted to separate them during his search for Hiilave – his intended bride. Young people decided that they will stay together forever: Hiilawe turned into a giant waterfall but Kakaloa – into an enormous boulder next to the base of falls. Hiilave is permanently weeping its tears on Kakaloa.

Another legend tells that the name of the waterfall is taken from the name of local chief Hiilawe. As Hiilawe was dying, his body turned into a large boulder but his spirit was turned into the waterfall and its mist. The mist keeps an eye on the people living in Waipio Valley.

Well, there are other creepy legends – for example about night marchers – ghosts of ancient warriors marching through the valley in some nights. That’s how it is in Hawaii – a land of legends.

Hiilave Falls are included in the following article:

WorldYellow Linked articles

Waipoo Falls in Kauai
Waipoo Falls in Kauai / Garden State Hiker, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Wonders of Hawaii

The Hawaiian Islands belong to the most remote islands in the world. Hawaii is characterized by a tropical climate, mountainous relief, volcanism, and isolation. If compared to most islands in the Pacific, several Hawaiian Islands have comparatively large landmasses. All these factors have led to the development of numerous impressive and unique natural attractions and some impressive monuments of culture.

Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite Valley
Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite Valley./ Jorge Láscar, Flickr / CC BY 2.0

Wonders of the United States

The United States of America is one of the largest countries in the world and offers a wide array of diverse attractions: many are unsurpassed in the world. Highlights of the United States are cliffs, canyons, and rock formations, several impressive downtowns of cities with numerous skyscrapers as well as a rich array of geothermal features, and the giant forest of California.

Virginia Falls, Canada
Virginia Falls / Paul Gierszewski, Wikimedia Commons / public domain


Some of the most fascinating and awe-inspiring natural monuments are waterfalls or locations where a river abruptly changes its elevation.

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