Rainbow Falls, Big Island

Rainbow Falls, Big Island

Know Before You Go, Shaka Guide's North Island Jungle Adventure Loop

Shaka Guide

Map of North Island jungle adventure loop showcasing trails, landmarks, and points of interest.

Start Planning!

You’re about to go on an awesome adventure, but there are a few things you should know about the tour before you get started.

  • You can start the tour in Kona, Waikoloa or Hilo. If you begin in Kona or Waikoloa, the tour goes clockwise. If you begin in Hilo, the tour goes counterclockwise. Both directions include the same stops and stories. And no matter where you start, we designed the tour to end at Mauna Kea, so you watch the sunset and stay for the nighttime display of stars!
  • Entrance to the Hawai'i Tropical Botanical Garden is $30 for adults and $22 for children 6-12; it’s free for children under 6.
  • There’s a $10 parking fee and a $5 per person entrance fee to Akaka Falls. This is a must-see spot! 
  • Entrance to tour Umauma Falls and Gardens is $5 per person.
  • Wear layers and bring a jacket, temperatures vary drastically across the island.
  • The best food stops are in Honoka’a, Waimea and Hilo.
  • Waipi'o Valley Lookout is open and offers a stunning view of this storied valley. However, Waip'o Valley itself is currently closed to the public. Please obey the road signs and do not drive or hike down into the valley.
  • This tour packs a lot of stops into one drive. If you'd like to explore at a slower pace, you can easily split this tour into two days by driving the loop on one day and exploring Hilo the next. 

What to Expect

1. To Get An Early Start

We recommend starting the tour before 9:00 a.m. There’s just so much to see and do! You won’t want to miss any spots because they close before you get there.

2. To Spend 8-12 Hours Exploring

This tour has roughly four hours of driving without any stops. It circles the entire north half of the island cutting through the island via the Saddle Road.

Along the way, you’ll visit multiple hikes, waterfalls, scenic spots and quaint small towns.

Don’t worry if you don’t get to everything you want to see in one day. The tour never expires! Just come back another day.

3. To Be Active

There are a couple of easy hiking trails on this tour--the Onomea Trail and the Akaka Falls trail. We highly recommend both!

4. To Visit the Beach

While most of the beaches we'll stop at are not great for swimming due to rough surf conditions, you'll have a chance to get in the water at Coconut Island in Hilo. We'll also point out a few popular swimming holes on the tour. 

5. To Try Local Food

There are three main towns where you’ll want to stop for a bite to eat: Honoka’a, Waimea and Hilo.

If you want to try an authentic plate lunch and malasadas, we recommend Tex’s Drive In for lunch in Honoka’a after your visit to the Waipi'o Valley Overlook.

You can also stop at one of our personal favorites -- Two Ladies Kitchen in Hilo for some handmade mochi.

Check out the highlighs in our app for more restaurant recommendations.

6. To Learn

The Big Island is actually the youngest in the Hawaiian Island chain but this doesn’t mean it’s lacking history!

This island is home to Mauna Kea, a site of deep cultural significance to the ancient Hawaiian people; it’s the birthplace of King Kamehameha; and it played a huge role in Hawaii’s sugarcane plantation history.

You’ll leave with a deeper understanding of the Big Island and Hawai'i as a whole. 

download shaka guide


How much you spend truly depends on what you do along the tour route, but here’s a breakdown of some costs:

  • $15-20/person: Lunch
  • $5/person: Local snack
  • $5/person: Umauma Falls View and Garden
  • $5/person + $10/car: Akaka Falls
  • $20/adult and $5/child: Hawai'i Tropical Botanical Garden

Start Packing

Here’s our packing list for this tour. It may seem a little long, but remember, what you bring depends on the activities you choose to do for the day.

  • Sneakers
  • Hiking Clothes
  • Jacket or Warm Clothes (for visiting Mauna Kea)
  • Water Bottle
  • Bug Spray (rainforest = mosquitoes)
  • Flashlight/Headlight (to explore Kaumana Caves)
  • Towel
  • Bathing Suit
  • Sandals
  • Sunscreen
  • Sun Glasses and/or Hat
  • Snacks
  • Cash
  • Car Charger *Very Important*
  • Phone Mount 

Malama 'Aina

In Hawaiian the word malama means “to take care” and the word 'aina means “land."

When you’re in Hawai'i, we ask that you practice this and pick up your trash; respect the marine life, plants, and animals; and avoid spots that are unsafe.

Hawaii’s natural resources are precious. It’s up to all of us to help preserve these resources for generations by respecting the aina when you visit.

We hope that we’ve given you all the information you need to make the most of your day. Your vacation is extremely important to us so if you have any questions feel free to reach out at aloha@shakaguide.com.

For more help planning your day check out our North Island Jungle Adventure Loop suggested itinerary.


10 Ways to be a Safe and Responsible Traveler in Hawaii

The Ultimate Big Island Travel Guide

Which Big Island Airport Should You Fly Into?

Which Big Island Tour Is The Best?

17 Family-Friendly Activities on Big Island

Big Island Waterfalls Guide

Best Big Island Farmers Markets

The Best Snorkel Spots on the Big Island

16 Must-Visit Historic Sites on the Big Island

Must-See Scenic Spots on Big Island

Best Places to Catch a Sunset on the Big Island

33 Things to Do on Big Island

Big Island Maps



shaka guide app qr code

Download The Shaka Guide App

Get The
Shaka Guide App