Opened to the public only in late 2009, Kamae'e Falls is one of Hawaii's most beautiful waterfalls.
As you drive up the access road from the World Botanical Gardens main entrance, you can see the dormant Mauna Kea volcano over the green pastures of the paniola cattle ranch. Arriving at the Kamae'e Falls overlook, you can view the stream as it tumbles over small waterfalls and winds its way through sunlit pools before cascading nearly 100 feet down a sheer rock cliff covered with ferns and other native vegetation to a crystal clear pool below. Look for blooming gingers and hibiscus clinging to the steep slopes above the waterfall.
Walk to the right and you can follow a trail to the stream right at the top of the waterfall just before it plunges over the cliff. Looking downstream, you can watch the stream meander through the rain forest valley amongst giant boulders that were washed over the waterfall during floods. Look past the verdant valley and you can see the Pacific Ocean and even a humpback whale or two in the winter.
Most waterfalls on the Big Island are fueled by runoff from the area's heavy rainfall. But the stream which feeds Kamae'e Falls descends from a lava tube which drains water that has percolated for years through the volcanic soils of Mauna Kea. As a result, Kamae'e Falls always has a steady stream of water, even in dry months. Although its flow increases substantially after heavy rains, the water remains amongst the cleanest in the area.
The stream feeding Kamae'e Falls is also home to the o'opu alamo'o. The fish, a member of the Hawaiian gobie family, can climb waterfalls by using its fins.
Gardens, Waterfalls & Maze
Mile Marker 16 on Highway 19 31-240 Old Mamalahoa Highway
Hakalau, Hawaii 96710
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