Akaka Falls, Lilipuokalana Gardens and Panaewa Rainforest Zoo – Big Island – Hawaii

Akaka Falls Hawaii

Some of Hawaii’s most breath-taking and accessible waterfalls can be discovered along the North Eastern coast of the Big island, on the Hāmākua Coast North of Hilo. This is the greenest and most fertile part of the island, blessed with amazing tropical rainforests and botanical gardens. We only have a day here so we chose to visit the Akaka Falls, Liliʻuokalani Gardens and the tigers at the Panaewa Rainforrest Zoo.

Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls State Park, located along the North Eastern coast of the Big Island of Hawaii. About a 30 min drive North of Hilo. Here you can see two beautiful waterfalls on one short hike.

it is a pleasant self-guided walk from the carpark through lush tropical vegetation, orchids, bamboo groves and draping ferns takes you to scenic lookouts overlooking the cascading Kahuna Falls and the free-falling ‘Akaka Falls, which plunges 442 feet into a stream-eroded gorge.

The loop footpath is less than a 800 metres there are plenty of steps so does requires some physical exertion.

Akaka Falls is arguably the island of Hawaiʻi’s most famous waterfall. Easily accessible, this hike takes less than an hour.

Lilipuokalana Gardens

Liliʻuokalani Gardens are apparently the largest authentic ornamental Japanese garden outside of Japan.

You could easily believe you’re in Japan as you stroll through peaceful Gardens. The Gardens are named after Hawaiʻi’s last reigning monarch, Queen Liliʻuokalani. This authentic, 24.67-acre Japanese garden was dedicated in 1917 as a tribute to Hawaiʻi’s first Japanese immigrants who worked in the island of Hawaiʻi’s sugar cane fields.

Banyan Tree Trish at Lilpuokalana Gardens
Trish is standing next to the Banyan Tree

This beautifully landscaped park features arching bridges over fishponds, rock gardens, pagodas, Japanese stone lanterns and a teahouse. Views of Hilo Bay and Mokuola (Coconut Island) enhance this peaceful setting.

Trish particularly loved the huge Banyan? trees.

Panaewa Rainforest Zoo

Panaʻewa Rainforest Zoo is located 6 km from Hilo. This small 12-acre zoo is the only one in the United States located in a rainforest. Inside, you can find a variety of rainforest animals and endangered Hawaiian animals such as spider monkeys, lemurs, nene geese (the Hawaiian State bird), and over 80 other animal species.

The Pana’ewa zoo is also a botanical garden and is filled with orchids, bamboos, 100 varieties of palms, and a water garden.

The zoo is easy to get around and you only need one to two hours to walk around checking out the animals and plants / flowers.

You can catch the Hele-On Bus from Hilo to the Zoo via Route 403.