Rainbow Falls, Big Island

Rainbow Falls, Big Island

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

Shaka Guide

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.

  • Start the tour in Kona, Waikoloa or Hilo and travel clockwise or counterclockwise. Both directions are the same tour so pick the one that’s best for you!
  • Entrance to the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden is $25 for adults and $12 for children 6-15; it’s free for children under 6.
  • There’s a $10 parking fee and $5 per person entrance fee to Akaka Falls. This is a must-see spot! 
  • Entrance to tour Umauma Falls and Gardens is $12 per person.
  • Wear layers and bring a jacket, temperatures vary drastically across the island.
  • The road to Mauna Kea’s summit and visitor center are open, however the Visitor Center’s stargazing program has been discontinued and the center is currently closed due to COVID 19.
  • The best food stops are in Honoka’a, Waimea and Hilo.
  • If you’re doing the Waipio Valley Hike know that it’s one of the steepest in the world. Because of this, do not drive down into the valley even with a four-wheel drive vehicle. Rather just opt for the hike. 
  • We don’t recommend combining this tour with any of our other Big Island tours, there’s just too much to see and do. 
  • Waipio Valley Road is currently CLOSED to pedestrians. You cannot hike or drive into the valley - please view this spot from the lookout. 


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, lava tubes 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 four optional hiking trails on this tour and they range from easy to moderate. If you’re planning on doing the family-friendly hikes -- Onomea Trail, Akaka Falls and Umauma Fall -- you could do all of these in about 2 hours. But if you want to embark on the Waipio Valley Hike, plan to spend a minimum of 3 hours on this journey alone. It’s one of the steepest roads in the world and the 2-mile trek from the valley back to your car takes about an hour and a half.

4. To Hit the Beach

While the tour visits a few beaches, there’s only one beach that we’d recommend swimming at and it’s located in Hilo across from a fishpond -- don’t worry, we’ll guide you there. This family-friendly watering hole located is perfect for a dip.

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 Inn for lunch in Honoka’a before you visit the Waipio Valley overlook. You can also stop at one of our personal favorites -- Two Ladies Kitchen in Hilo for some handmade mochi.

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 Kamahama; and played a huge role in Hawaii’s sugarcane plantation history. You’ll leave with a deeper understanding of the Big Island and Hawaii as a whole. 


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

  • $10.00 per person: Lunch
  • $5.00 per person: Local snack
  • $10.00 per car: Umauma Falls View and Garden
  • $5.00 per car: Akaka Falls
  • $20.00/adult and $5.00/child per person: Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden
  • $10 per person: Ann Ranch Historic Home Tour
  • $19.00/adult, $12.99/child 12-4, free/children under 4: Imiloa Astronomy Center

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 Layers, temperatures vary drastically across the island
  • Water Bottle
  • Bug Spray (rainforest = mosquitoes)
  • 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 Hawaii, 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

RELATED: 10 Ways to be a Safe and Responsible Traveler in Hawaii

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




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