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LOCATION _ THE BIG ISLAND

KOHALA WATERFALLS ADVENTURE

Duration 6-7 hrs Rated Easy

$215 Adults_ $190 Children under 12

A PRIVATE HAWAIIAN SWIMMING HOLE

Experience the exclusive waterfalls, quiet streams, dramatic coastlines, and rugged terrain of North Kohala. Your adventure kicks off with a direct off-road drive to our unique hiking start point.

Venturing into Kohala is your best bet to experience Hawaiʻi’s extremes. Perfect sunny skies and white sandy beaches up the dry desert coast, and lush tropical paradise around the north eastern edge of the island. Come to Kohala for the history; it’s the oldest of the five volcanoes on the island where ancient Hawaiians perfected the agricultural practices that sustained them. Come to Kohala for the views; the valleys carved out of this basalt lava rock make for some dramatic cliff shots. But most of all, come for the private trails made just for you and exclusive access to splash under refreshing Hawaiian waterfalls.

 

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Ramble off-road to an exclusive trailhead
  • Take a relaxed, guided walk through a private nature reserve
  • Cool off with a swim under one of several cascading waterfalls
  • Walk through a restored ancient Hawaiian agricultural site
  • Enjoy a private picnic lunch with views of soaring seacliffs and remote valleys, at one of the island’s best scenic lookouts

Lush tropical paradise around the northeastern edge of the island

Schedule

Daily tour departs from Hawaii Forest & Trail Headquarters, Waikoloa Queen’s Marketplace, Shops at Mauna Lani, and Kohala Zipline Headquarters. Tour time is about 8 hours round trip

What’s Included

Deli-style lunch with assorted beverages. Sunscreen and bug spray are also available upon request.

Gear Provided

Towels, walking sticks, and rain jackets

What to Bring & Wear

Comfortable walking shoes or reef walkers, a bathing suit, hat, sunscreen, a light jacket or sweatshirt, and a reusable water bottle

Restrictions

Guests should be able to hike on uneven or rocky terrain. We sometimes encounter cool, wet, or muddy conditions. Other tour restrictions may apply

 

REVIEWS

4.9 STARS

Recommended by 98% of travelers
(204 Reviews)


 
Robert Parker
★★★★★

Amazing tour guide. Fun experience. Great day with family. Fun hike, the waterfalls were awesome, plus we learned a great deal of history.

Kim Sanchez
★★★★★

Garry made this hike and waterfall tour worth the money. He was an excellent driver and narrator, wanting to make sure no question went unanswered. While the hike wasn’t very long, the waterfall swim was unique (and cold). The picnic lunch was perfect and the view was amazing and jaw-dropping. Thank you, Hawaii Forest and Trails for a fun adventure

Brook Jones
★★★★★

Bucket list experience! – This tour was really cool. The falls were beautiful, the hike was fun, and the lunch spot view was breathtaking. What made the tour stand out was our guide, Mark. He was a born “people person,” knowing exactly what to say and ensuring our safety. He made us feel included and genuinely cared about our experience. His hunger for knowledge and appreciation for life were contagious. I’ve never been so impacted by someone in such a short time. He taught me unforgettable things about the island and life.

Luke Jefferson
★★★★★

Our guide, Mark, was GREAT, and the hike was nice, but the falls were a little disappointing. The best part of the tour was the magnificent overlook location where we had our lunch.

 
 
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HOME OF KING KAMEHAMEHA _ UNIFIER OF THE ISLANDS

Youʻve probably seen the name already: Kamehameha. Heʻs the man responsible for creating the Kingdom of Hawaiʻi. Born of royal descent in Kohala in 1758 under a stormy sky and while Halleyʻs Comet flew by — omens that a great leader had shown up.

Kamehamehaʻs uncle, Kalaniʻopuʻu, was in charge of the island of Hawaiʻi. So, after his death in 1782, the ruling power was passed down the line to Kamehmehaʻs cousin, Kiwalaʻo. But Kamehameha wasnʻt completely left out of the spoils. He was told to look after the war god Kūkāʻilimoku, one of the four main gods in the Hawaiian religion. This cemented Kamehamehaʻs future as a great warrior and laid the path for unification.

Westerners first started coming to these islands extensively in 1778. They brought a lot of things in those early years: goats, diseases, and new species of vegetation. But what Kamehameha was most interested in were their weapons. He befriended George Vancouver, who made multiple trips to the islands and was also able to commandeer a ship with its weaponry. With these muskets and cannons — and the knowledge of how to use them from his new buddy — Kamehameha was able to dominate the other islands and eventually unite them all under his rule in 1810.

KING KAMEHAMEHA HIMSELF SPENT HIS LATER YEARS GARDENING IN KOHALA

On the drive up Akoni Pule Highway in Kapaʻau, you’ll notice a statue of the King himself. This was the original statue commissioned in the late 1800s, cast in France, and shipped to Hawaiʻi. Except the boat caught on fire on the way over. For about two years the statue was at the bottom of the ocean until it was recovered, recast, and installed in Kamehamehaʻs hometown in 1883. A replacement statue had long been remade and shipped to Honolulu. Thomas Ridgeway Gould, an American living in Italy designed the bronze casting. Check out its Romanesque sandals: an homage to Classical Roman pieces? Or a cultural disconnect with a designer who just couldnʻt fathom the custom of a great King going barefoot?

OLA I KA WAI _ WATER IS LIFE

The district of Kohala on the northern tip of Hawaiʻi Island has a dense history of agricultural activity. Even the Hawaiian creation chant tells us this is where Wākea and Hoʻohōkūkalani buried their first-born son. Up sprouted taro or kalo, which became the brother of the Hawaiian peoples. Ancient Hawaiians built complex loʻi, or terraces, along natural streams for growing the staple crop. Advanced farming techniques were key in supplying the needs of an entire island population. Many of the practices have been lost over time, unknowingly bulldozed or overgrown and left unrecognizable.

Land in ancient Hawaiʻi was divided into ahupuaʻa, long thin strips going from mauka to makai — from the inland mountains to the ocean — with boundaries generally matching the lines of a watershed. Water collects in vegetation-rich higher elevations of the wao akua, the realm of the gods, and funnels downhill. Water, wai, is sacred in Hawaiʻi. Those dependent on the land viscerally recognized that water is life.

Communities that grew kalo had a vested interest in maintaining the cleanliness of the waters used to irrigate their terraces. This was also the source of their water for day-to-day cooking and drinking. Water used for loʻi was taken in gratitude and reverence, water returned to the stream was done with respect.

This adventure will take you through a gulch where water once flowed. Hawaiian families, bare feet sinking into the mud, would tend their loʻi patches to grow enough kalo for themselves and extra to trade with other families in their ahupuaʻa. Wild pigs were hunted up the mountains, crops were grown in gulches, and seafood was harvested along the coast. The thread running through these lands was water

King Kamehameha himself spent his later years gardening in Kohala, the landscape of his youth. He used a section of a diverted stream to water his own kalo patches. Stories conflict over when exactly the Waiʻāpuka Tunnel was built, an engineered canal siphoning off a section of the Waikama River, but Kamehameha was able to water his loʻi through its flow. Nineteen vertical columns were dug through lava rock about twenty feet deep and four feet wide to the level of a stream. They were then connected to allow water to flow through in an elaborate system fit for a king.

 
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HAWAII FOREST & TRAIL _ YOUR GUIDE TO BIG ADVENTURE

Hawaii Forest & Trail started in 1993 with an emphasis on conservation and education. They’ve got island-wide partnerships to get guests into private lands and wildlife refuges. Specialized trips stretch across the geological, ecological, and cultural diversity of Hawaii. The Kohala Waterfalls Adventure takes you to private land exclusively available to Hawaii Forest & Trail guests. Meet up at their headquarters about 10 minutes from the hotel. The whole day will be under seven hours. Youʻll hike about a mile loop through an ancient Hawaiian kalo patch and alongside natural waterfalls. Make sure you brought your swimming suit, because you wonʻt want to miss a refreshing swim in the cool Hawaiian waters. They’ll supply all the gear: reusable water bottles, drinks, day packs, lunch, snacks, and walking sticks. Most importantly, they’ve got the keys to get you onto the private land.

MOST IMPORTANTLY, THEY’VE GOT THE KEYS TO GET YOU ONTO THE PRIVATE LAND