on December 28, 2006
Akaka Falls must be one of the most romantic spots in the world. It's well worth a visit, if you're on the Hilo side of the island - I've returned to it three or four times. The turnoff to the falls from Highway 19 is about 11 miles north of Hilo and is well-marked. First you drive through the town of Honomu, which is a good place to stop for refreshments or to browse the few small shops. The falls are about four miles up the road. Park in the lot and take the trail from there. There are actually two waterfalls, Kahuna and Akaka. You can walk directly to either, or do both as a loop. We did the loop, heading to the right to Kahuna Falls first. The walk is not long - the whole loop is less than half a mile - and is full of wonderful scenery. There is giant golden bamboo. We saw some broken stalks with moss growing on them, beautiful. There is also giant ginger, the tallest I've ever seen, maybe 15 feet high. One area had a thicket of large trees in a formation that looked like an enchanted forest. Flowers were everywhere, all different kinds, and we could hear birds singing.There were also a lot of tourists. We stopped to admire Kahuna Falls, which falls an impressive 400 feet. The overlook is a small platform, and everyone had to take a short turn on it, to watch the falls and of course take photos. We stayed through several groups of tourists, until we had it to ourselves and could admire the falls at our leisure. Then on to Akaka Falls, which is an even more impressive 420 feet. The overlook there is larger, so people can watch it as long as they want. You have a great view of the falls, from the top to the beautiful blue pool the water falls into. Stunning.On the way back, we crossed a bridge over a stream and saw below a small woven basket holding several brightly-colored pieces of fruit. I don't know what spirit, if any, it was an offering to, but it seemed to express thanks for nature's bounty, which is evident in the area.Back in the parking lot, a man was weaving baskets, birds, and hats from palm fronds and "talking story." He was a big hit with the tourists who stopped to watch him, and sold what he made quickly. A family set up a table to display and sell beautiful opihi shell necklaces. They called the opihi the “most dangerous shell to get”. The man talked about how he harvests them, many at cliffs with crashing waves. Then he polishes them, and the woman turns them into jewelry. It was nice to have the local flavor at the park.
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