Tag Archives: Waterfalls

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).

Boiling Pots

Boiling Pots is part of Hilo’s Wailuku River State Park. In this photo, the pots can just be made out through the tree in the center. It looks serene here, but it’s a dangerous spot. The river is prone to flash floods and when it’s roaring, the water in the pots looks like it’s boiling, hence the name. People have been sucked under and trapped in hidden caves and lava tubes. There are lots of warning signs, but many people still think they know better. Not all of them are right.

First Big Island visit

Pololu beach

Turtle at PunuluuTropical foliageLava flowingThis week’s Friendly Friday challenge theme is ‘Turning point.’ (See more responses here.) Since this is a photo blog about the Big Island it seems appropriate to post some photos from my first visit here in 2010, a visit which was the catalyst for the move to the island. There was no ‘ah ha’ moment, but these photos give a general idea of some of the things that appealed.

The top photo is Pololu beach on the North Kohala coast. Second photo is a Hawaiian green turtle resting on the black sand beach at Punalu’u County Beach Park. Third photo is tropical foliage next to a small cascading stream. Fourth photo shows some small lava breakouts in the flow that was active at that time. Conveniently, that activity was about 100 yards from the parking area and only 10 feet or so beyond where I was standing. The bottom photo is a view of Two Step, a popular snorkeling spot, from Pu’uhonua o Hōnaunau National Historical Park.

Two Step from Place of Refuge

Waipi’o Valley

Waipio Valley

Waipio Hi'ilawe FallsThis week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Bucket List Images.’ (See more responses here.) Since I don’t have a bucket list that posed something of a problem for me, so I plumped for this image of Waipi’o Valley, since I might never see this view again.

Waipi’o is a valley on the northeastern slopes of Kohala Mountain. The valley is about one mile wide at the mouth and about six miles deep with walls that are around 2,000 feet high. It’s accessed by a steep, one-lane road that’s for four-wheel-drive vehicles only. On the left of the top photo, and in the second photo, is Hi’ilawe Falls which tumbles almost 1,500 feet into the valley.

Waipi’o means ‘curved water’ in Hawaiian and the valley is known as the “Valley of Kings.” It was the home of Hawaiian royalty until the 15th century and was a stronghold of King Kamehameha, who united the Hawaiian islands under one leader. In its heyday, the valley was home to somewhere between 4,000 and 10,000 people.

Those numbers dropped over time, but the valley remained well-populated until 1946 when a magnitude 8.6 earthquake in the Aleutian Islands triggered a massive Pacific-wide tsunami with waves ranging from 45–130 ft. high. Waipi’o Valley was hit by this tsunami, and though no-one was killed, most of the structures in the valley were destroyed. Today, the population is around 50 residents, though many more visit on a daily basis.

Kohala waterfall

Kohala Waterfall

This week’s Sunday Stills challenge theme is ‘Photo-editor.’ See more responses here.

A few weeks ago I posted a composite photo of a rainbow here, which would have been a good choice for this challenge. But I also had more recent photos, of a waterfall in the Kohala Mountains, that I wanted to combine.

I couldn’t capture the full drop of this waterfall, probably somewhere between 500 and 1,000 feet, in one image, so I took two photos. This presented a couple of challenges. First was to combine the image of the top of the falls with the one of the bottom of the falls. The second challenge involved dealing with the horizontal offset of these two photos. Since I was in a helicopter at the time, we’d moved forward between shooting the images.

I’m pretty happy with the final image, especially the capture of the mini rainbow at the base of the falls. Anyway, feel free to see if you can spot where the two photos are connected.

Thanks to Sunshine Helicopters for the tour.

Signs: Boiling Pots

Signs-Boiling Pots dangers

Boiling Pots is part of Wailuku River State Park, in Hilo, along with Rainbow Falls. It features a series of small falls and pools. So why the name? When the river runs fast, those pools roil and bubble as if boiling.

The park overlooks these pools and access to the pools is forbidden, hence these signs. However, people go down there all the time and a few die every year. When people do get swept away, rescue divers usually spend 24 to 48 hours searching the river, at some considerable risk to themselves. Sometimes the body turns up several weeks later, swept into some unlikely spot. Sometimes it’s never found.

Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls and rainbow

Rainbow Falls and offeringRainbow Falls are located in Wailuku River State Park, in Hilo. They get their name from the fact that, in the mornings, rainbows often form in the mist from the falls (above).

Center, someone left an offering, possibly to Hina, mother of the demigod Maui, who is said to have lived in the cave behind the falls.

And below, someone who has inadvertently walked past the 83,000 ‘Danger’ and ‘Warning’ signs to wander around at the top of the falls. Flash floods occur often and people die here every year.

Rainbow Falls