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The hike to Nanue Falls is very short and only 18 miles north of Hilo.  Although this hike is short and doesn’t require much time, it is challenging as there is no trail and you must rock hop along slippery boulders up the creek. The waterfall is beautiful and worth the trek, but even the most sure-footed hikers are likely to take a slip and end up getting wet at some point.




Time Required: 1 Hour

Location: 18 miles north of Hilo

Distance: Less than a mile

Highest Elevation: 300 ft

Elevation Gain: Minimal

Difficulty: 4/10 – Slippery boulder hopping necessary

Season: Year round

Additional Requirements: N/A



From Hilo: Take Hwy 19 north of Hilo for 18 miles and take your first left passed mile marker 18. (If you’re coming from the north, after mile marker 19, you will cross two bridges, after crossing the second bridge, take your first right) follow this road for 2.5 miles past the World Botanical Garden registration area. 75ft after crossing a small bridge there is an area on the right just passed a guard rail to pull over and park your car.



  • Comfortable Footwear you can get wet: Your shoes will very likely get wet. Water shoes would be a good option.
  • Water: This hike is short but it is always smart to bring a little bit of water.
  • Snacks: A snack might be necessary if you plan to stay at the falls for any length of time.
  • Weather appropriate clothing: Check the weather forecast and plan accordingly.
  • Sunscreen:If it is sunny and you’re like Mattson, who easily burns, bring sunscreen!
  • Insect Repellent: Insect repellent can greatly improve your hiking experience. There were a lot of mosquitoes on this hike so definitely pack some bug spray.
  • Camera: There are numerous photo opportunities you won’t want to miss.
  • This Guide: Print a copy of this guide to reference throughout the hike.



Cliff Jumping: Always be cautious when jumping off cliffs into water. Know your limits and check the water below you thoroughly before jumping to make sure it is deep enough.

Flash Floods: This area of the Big Island receives over 100 inches of rain annually. Heavy rains can cause flash floods in streams and rivers. If there is flooding and fast moving water, attempting to cross streams and rivers can be very dangerous and potentially fatal.

Leave No Trace: It is important that we enjoy the outdoors responsibly and sustainably. Some key principles to consider when hiking to “Leave No Trace” are:

  • Plan ahead and prepare: Proper planning allows adventurers to hike safely while minimizing damage to the land.
  • Travel on durable surfaces: Stick to the trail when possible. If there is no trail, or you must travel off trail, stay on durable surfaces to reduce your impact.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out.
  • Leave what you find: Leave rocks, plants, archaeological artifacts and other objects of interest as you find them.
  • Respect wildlife: Observe wildlife from a distance. Never feed wild animals.
  • Be considerate of other visitors: Be courteous to others to allow everyone to enjoy their outdoor experience.

To learn more about “Leave No Trace” visit



Summary: The hike to Nanue Falls is short and straightforward. From the Nanue Bridge the hike follows the Nanue stream upstream to Nanue Falls.


Nanue Falls Adventure Map - Hawaii Big Island - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 1: Nanue Falls Adventure Map


Step-By-Step Guide:

When you’ve passed the bridge, and found your spot to park beyond the guard rail (Route marker #1 on the map), take a walk back onto the bridge. This isn’t part of the hike, but the bridge is pretty neat. It was built in 1930 and has the word “Nanue” etched into the concrete. Running underneath this bridge is Nanue stream. Take a look upstream as that’s where you’ll be going.


Nanue Falls - Hawaii Big Island - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 2: The Nanue Bridge


Over the guard rail you parked beside on the norht side of the road is a path through some thick overgrowth down to Nanue stream. Once you hit the stream, take a right and walk under the bridge. Be careful walking under the bridge as the ledges don’t have a lot of area to walk on. If you want to enbrace getting your shoes wet, jump in and just walk up the stream through the water. You’re bound to slip on a rock and get your shoes wet at some point, might as well embrace it early.


From the bridge, this hike is pretty straight forward, just head upstream until you reach the waterfall. Hop along the rocks whichever way you think is easiest or if you have already got your shoes wet, head straight up the creek. The rocks can be slippery so be a little extra wary as to where you plant your feet.  Beware of spider webs, there are a lot of them.


Nanue Falls - Hawaii Big Island - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 3: Mattson descending to the stream
Nanue Falls - Hawaii Big Island - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 4: Anderson heading upstream


From the bridge to the falls is no more than 800 yards. After rounding a bend, you’ll be able to see the falls and a nice pool to swim in at the bottom (Route marker #2 on the map).  Enjoy your time at the falls but be very careful if you choose to jump!  We thoroughly checked the depth of the pool prior to cliff jumping but the depth of the water can change and newly fallen rocks can create unseen cliff jumping hazards.


Nanue Falls - Hawaii Big Island - Epic Trip Adventures
Image 5: Nanue Falls




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Have fun out there!