Big Island bodies of water

A view of Waipi'o Valley taken from the mouth of the river
Waipi’o Valley
Kohala waterfall
Rainbow Falls, Hilo
Lake Waiau.

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Bodies of Water.’ (See more responses here.) Last Sunday, I posted photos of the Kohala valleys. This week, I’m posting a bit about what goes on in them and elsewhere on the island.

The top photo is shows the mouth of the Waipi’o River looking back toward the cloud shrouded Kohala hills. The river, is fed by water passing over Hi’ilawe Falls and other waterfalls deep in the fingers of the valley. Like all water courses on the Big Island, its flow is greatly increased by the often heavy rainfall.

The second photo shows a waterfall, farther down the coast, cascading into a pool at the bottom before flowing out to the ocean. Some of these waterfalls drop more than a thousand feet. Some cascade into valleys, some directly into the ocean. During dry spells, the water flows are greatly reduced and many falls, those that are entirely rain fed, disappear for a while. When rains are heavy, the water flow is so great that some falls blend together to form a sheet of falling water.

On the east side of the island is Wailuku River, the longest river on the island. This flows down to the ocean in Hilo, and on its way, tumbles over the aptly named Rainbow Falls (third photo). The falls and rainbows are best seen in the early morning. This stretch of the river is very dangerous with flash floods being common. People get swept away here every year.

Finally, the bottom photo shows the biggest lake on the island, which can be found at the top of Mauna Kea! Lake Waiau is fed by rainwater and snow melt, mostly in the winter. That it exists at all is something of a mystery. The ground on Mauna Kea is highly permeable, and it’s not fully understood what the layer is beneath Lake Waiau that enables it to retain water. Lake Waiau is not just the biggest lake on the island, it’s the only one. Green Lake, the biggest lake previously, disappeared during Kilauea’s 2018 eruption (photos and story here).


7 thoughts on “Big Island bodies of water

  1. Cathy

    Fabulous photos! I could spend a lot of time enjoying the veiw in the first one, it’s gorgeous. The waterfalls are beautiful too. I love the sort of rainbow effect in the second one. I didn’t realise how high it was until I noticed the figure on the top.

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  2. Susanne Swanson

    The first picture totally surprised me! I thought for sure it was from the Pacific Northwest1 I love all the photos, especially the one of the mysterious lake; the contrast in colors is wonderful. I can’t wait to get back to the Big Island when the coast is clear again!

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    1. Graham Post author

      I’m not surprised you thought it was the Pacific Northwest. There’s a few places here like that. There’s so much variety on the island that visitors, from all over, are reminded of places they know.

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