About Waiulili Falls
Waiulili Falls is the second of the ocean-bound waterfalls accessible via the sacred Waipi’o Valley (the other being Kaluahine Falls).
While the falls didn’t look all that tall from the ground, we were fortunate to see the falls from a helicopter. That was when we realized just how tall this waterfall really was. I don’t have the figures of this one, but for sure it seemed to span the entire height of the cliff!
As for hiking towards the falls from Waipi’o Valley, I only became aware of this option after reading about it through the Blue Bible. After undertaking this hike, I have to say that this was an excursion that definitely had its share of risks. Let me get into the hike description and tell you about the risks as they come.
First, I had to descend the steep access road into Waipi’o Valley. As mentioned on the Hi’ilawe Falls page, that was a road you definitely would NOT want to drive in a rental car. Plus, it was not an easy hike on the way back up.Once I was down in the valley, I was immediately faced with a junction. Turning right at this junction, the muddy road eventually led to the beach at the mouth of Waipi’o Valley. At that point, the coastal boulder scramble towards the waterfalls began.
Initially, the boulder scramble went a short distance towards what seemed to be a small gully that would normally harbor a stream. However, both times I’ve been here, this gully was dry. I believe this was supposed to be the Kaluahine Falls, but I wonder if it was merely an ephemeral waterfall that just so happened to be named.
I couldn’t believe that this was supposed to be the same waterfall that was in a scene for Kevin Costner’s Waterworld (I haven’t seen the movie so I can’t verify that claim). Apparently the falls were flowing back then, but definitely not these days as far as my experience goes.
After the disappointment of Kaluahine Falls, I continued onwards. At this point, the space between the churning ocean and the vertical cliffs got narrower. So as the slow progress on the loose boulders persisted, I was constantly faced with being plucked by a rogue wave on the makai side and being hit with falling rocks on the mauka side. Indeed, being out here definitely did not feel very safe, and in the back of my mind, I kept thinking I’d much rather be out of here than lingering around to see a waterfall.
In any case, I went far enough to catch an angled view of the Waiulili Falls. I believe this was about 1/4-mile of awkward boulder scrambling beyond the Kaluahine Falls (which itself was a very short distance from the mouth of Waipi’o Valley).
While it appeared that I could’ve gone closer to the Waiulili Falls, I just didn’t feel like pushing my luck given the everpresent hazards that were all around me. So the photos you see on this page were as good a view as I was going to get.
This waterfall shares the same trailhead as that of Hi’ilawe Falls. So see that page for driving directions to Waipi’o Valley Lookout.
For context, the Waipi’o Valley Lookout was 51 miles (over an hour drive) north of Hilo, 23 miles (about 30 minutes drive) east of Waimea, 41 miles (about an hour drive) east of Waikoloa, and 62 miles (90 minutes drive) northeast of Kailua-Kona.
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