Catch a glimpse of Hawaii’s stunning waterfalls along this scenic route. Minimum 6 hours.
– From Big Island Motorcycle Co., take a left at the traffic signal, heading north on Hwy 11.
– After about 10 miles you will come to a T. Take a right, heading toward Waimea.
– Waimea is a good stopping point for snacks/coffee/gas (10 miles from the T intersection). Honoka’a (20 miles from T intersection) is also good and they have Tex Drive-In, famous for malasadas, aka Portuguese donuts.
– Continue along Hwy 19 toward Hilo. The highway takes you in and out of several gorgeous gulches, some of which have waterfalls streaming down the middle. CAUTION: if you feel the need to pull over and take pictures, please remember that this is a highway with a speed limit of 55mph. Slowing down or coming to a stop in this road is extremely dangerous. Please find an appropriate pull-out before stopping along the road.
– After passing the Laupahoehoe lookout you will see signs for a “Scenic Route” to your right. Take it! This road takes you along the old highway and through sugarcane fields of the past.
– Look for the signs for World Botanical Gardens and Gardens Visitor Center toward the end of the scenic route. Inside the gardens is Umauma Falls (pictured above), Kamaee Falls, and of course a wonderful array of tropical plants. Entrance fee is $13 per adult and is well worth it.
– Get back on Hwy 19 heading toward Hilo. Watch for the signs to Honomu and Akaka Falls after a few miles, it will be a right turn. There are a couple turns after exiting the highway, but there is signage to help you.
– At Akaka Falls State park there are two waterfalls, Akaka and Kahuna Falls. There is a moderately easy 1/2 walking trail to the falls viewing areas. At the time of writing entrance was free, however this is slated to change soon.
– Hop back on Hwy 19 toward Hilo. After a couple miles you will see signs for another scenic route to your left, take it! This road takes you through dense jungle, and passes some baby waterfalls along the way. Please use CAUTION on this road as it is often wet, slippery, and has some very tight turns. Best to take this road slow and easy.
– The scenic route will take you back to the Hwy 19, continue toward Hilo. The hwy brings you right into downtown Hilo, which is worth a stop to walk around. We especially love Lilioukalani Park and Banyan Drive. You will want to get gas here, there is no gas where you are heading next.
– Find Waianuenue Avenue (your first right from the hwy), also the main road that cuts through downtown Hilo heading west. Look for the signs to Rainbow Falls, turn will be to your right. Admission free.
– Get back on Waianuenue (heading west) which turns into State Hwy 200, aka Saddle Road. CAUTION: there is a 3 mile strip of road along Saddle that is unpaved (hard-pack gravel). It is fine to take the motorcycles on this road, but use caution. If, after visiting Rainbow Falls you get hit with a lot of rain or foggy conditions, it will only get worse along the Saddle, so you may want to consider re-tracing your steps to get back. This is true if it is getting dark, there are no street lights on Saddle and it gets DARK. Also, Saddle Road gets very high in elevation so it’s gets darn chilly, bring a jacket (provided with rentals).
– If you took Saddle Road, take a left at the T intersection after about 30 miles, then an almost immediate right toward Waikoloa. Descend down this road 10 miles until you hit another T at Hwy 11. Take a left at the light then a right at the next light to reach Big Island Motorcycle Co.