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Can You Swim In Rainbow Falls, Hawaii? (Rules + Best Time)

The Rainbow Falls in Hawaii got its name from when the sun reflects off the falls at the right angle creating a spectacular rainbow. Waiānuenue Falls, a name that it also goes by, is an 80-foot waterfall that is just a marvel to see, but can you swim there? Or is that just a pot of gold at the end of the rainbow?

Are you fascinated yet? Then continue reading to see if there is a treasure at the rainbow’s end. Look at the best times to visit, cost, other spectacular waterfalls nearby, and other captivating points about Rainbow Falls.

Is it legal to swim in the wonderfull Rainbow Falls of Hawaii
Rainbow Falls is located in Hilo on the Big Island, Hawaii

Can You Swim In Rainbow Falls? (How Safe?)

Rainbow Falls is unsafe for swimming. However, this depends on the quantity of rain that occurred upstream in the preceding days. The falls would be raging, or they may only resemble a trickle. As long as the weather is calm and dry and the river is not in flood season, the pools above the falls are safe for swimming but not promoted. 

Individuals should take all necessary caution when wading or swimming in waterfalls, as they are generally susceptible to flash flooding.

There is infrastructure in place which restricts individuals from taking a swim in the falls. There is no assignment of lifeguards in this area. Avoid the edge of the waterfall. Rainbow Falls has a deep, large pool at the foot of the waterfall, measuring 100 feet in width. Albeit swimming is not illegal or prohibited, it is at your own risk.

Several pools suitable for swimming and a smaller waterfall and boulders for taking in the sun rays are accessible from beyond the mouth of the waterfall.  

The area towards the banks of the Wailuku River has swimming holes for the enjoyment of all, once there were no torrential rains, leading to flooding. 

Individuals with open sores or cuts should stay clear of swimming in freshwater, such as what cascades off the Rainbow Falls. Furthermore, infections occur through the mouth, nose, and eyes when individuals swim with their heads submerged. 

Even though the waters of the rivers and waterfalls were freshwater sources for the early inhabitants of the island, it is not advisable to drink water like that from a waterfall without first treating it with chemicals or boiling it.

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Best Time To Visit Rainbow Falls 

The waterfall is a year-round attraction, but the ideal time to experience the falls is generally early in the morning. The earlier, the better, before the crowds arrive and the car parks fill up. The suggested time is because the viewing platform is east of the waterfall. So, to see the rainbow form over the waterfall, one has to be there when the sun rises. 

Another preferred time to visit is after there has been torrential rainfall. Subsequently, the waterfall rushes over the edge with countless gallons of water. This wonder creates a tremendous waterfall that is a splendor to witness. Take caution as this is not the ideal time for taking a swim.

Early morning and late afternoon are also excellent times to visit, especially if you intend to go hiking. This way, you avoid the crowd and the sun. 

For cave exploration, the best time would be before any heavy rainfall, as the entrance to the cave becomes blocked by heavy downpours. Early morning is ideal as adequate lighting is necessary to view the rock formations. Accessing the entrance to the cave is slippery and rocky, so suitable footwear is a must.

Other Swimming Spots Close To Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls is one of the waterfalls found in the town of Hilo. The other two are Boiling Pots and Six Tons. 

  • Boiling Pots is just a short distance upriver from the Rainbow Falls. Both Boiling Pots and Rainbow Falls are part of the Wailuku River State Park. No entrance fee for this state park is required, making it free to see both locations. The water at Boiling Pots races downstream via lava rock formations and pools, connected by underground cascades. The waters appear to be boiling as it rolls in and out of the water pools. 
  • Six Tons is an excellent place for swimming. It is a relatively small waterfall and swimming hole. The locals love to visit this location and enjoy a refreshing dip in the waters when the river is calm. 

Waterfalls On The Big Island Suitable For Swimming

The Umauma Falls is a triple-tier waterfall ideal for swimming, but it is on private property. While on the property, visitors can experience this natural wonder via zipline and various other tours, such as ATV and horseback riding. 

Hi’ilawe Falls towers roughly 1,300 feet and is also on private property. What is more, the waterfall is only visible from in the air or via the valley. Hiking down the canyon or taking a helicopter tour are your options. Driving is not a recommendation.

Government Rules & Regulations

Fishing at Rainbow Falls is regulated. Each fish species has its own unique set of guidelines. The regulations governing fishing in Hawaii fluctuate during each season. These regulations stipulate the quantity and maximum size of fish individuals can keep and when you can fish, amount other things.

Although swimming is allowed but not encouraged, diving is prohibited. It is against the law to jump off the edge of Rainbow Falls. The Division of State Parks has numerous signs warning individuals against venturing too close to the edge. 

There is a reason for the regulations. In 2017, a man cheated death, only sustaining injuries when he decided to jump from the edge of Rainbow Falls. 

Types Of Fish Found In Rainbow Falls 

The main fish species caught in these waters are Giant trevally and Sixfinger threadfin. Fishing enthusiasts can also catch Abalone, Bass, Bonefish, Catfish, Flagtail, and Goatfish.

Kayakers Over Rainbow Falls

In 2021, although not a world record, professional kayakers Dane Jackson and Hayden Voorhees became the first individuals to complete the 80-foot fall over the right channel of Rainbow Falls. 

Permits are required to film anything such as this. The two daredevils indicated that they did not apply or thought they needed one.

Rainbow Falls Fatalities

In February and March 2018, the waters of Rainbow Falls took the lives of Kelly Mrowinski and Myles Osgood, respectively. The day after receiving the report, the search party found the body of Myles, while locating the body of Kelly took the search party approximately two weeks. [source]

More recently, the body of a 37-year-old Adam Broom got discovered floating face down in the water on March 28, 2022. No evidence of foul play was found, according to the police department. [source]

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