In the land of surfing and sunshine, a different type of adventure exists for those who seek its secret. The Wailuku River forms in the saddle between the two biggest volcanic peaks on the planet before rapidly dropping to the Pacific Ocean below.
The Wailuku can often lie dormant and tranquil as the river trickles over countless ledges into their pools below, however, when it awakes this river displays its true nature in a torrential flash of power. Translating to the “River of Death” in the native Hawaiian language, the Wailuku has a dark past, filled with legends of the Hawaiian Gods. As it rushes to life down the side of the mountains, the Wailuku River flows through Hilo, Hawaii, one of the rainiest cities in the United States.
If one exerts the patience necessary, this river will host some of your best days on the river. A complete descent of the Wailuku from Waiale Falls to the ocean is only a few miles long, but enclosed within its canyons is something for every waterfall seeking kayaker. Easy portages exist around 70ft tall PePe Falls, 55ft Raptor Falls, 110ft Rainbow Falls and 35ft Pterodactyl Falls.
Outside of these four larger waterfalls, the chasms of the Wailuku surround you with a feeling none other than that of Jurassic Park. Dropping you one perfect waterfall at a time deeper into columnar basalt walls overgrown with tropical foliage dangling above.
More than 25 clean waterfalls ranging from 5 to 25ft tall are dispersed throughout the section down to Rainbow Falls, and then again from Rainbow Falls to the ocean. The only obstacle in your way from true endless joy are the water levels and the health of your own spine.
Pack your gear, be prepared to lifestyle, and when it rains, get ready for a kayaking experience so incredible you’ll swear you are in the midst of an old Hawaiian legend.