Hawaii is a dream vacation for many, and there are many touristy sights and destinations that will take your breath away. It isn’t often that you get across something in Hawaii that’s surprising because many of the touristy locations here have been overexposed to visitors. However, there is one place in Hilo that’s unique and a bit off the beaten path. It’s called Pe’epe’e Falls (pronounced Peh-eh Peh-eh), also known as the Boiling Pots of Hawaii. The Boiling Pots is a section of the Wailuku River that’s been shaped by erosion and lava formations over the years. The result is an area of terraced pools that become turbulent or “boiling” when the river water rises. If you’re a curious wanderer and would like a visit to the Boiling Pots of Hawaii, here are some things you should do and some you shouldn’t while you’re there.
1. Do the extra drive
Most tourists spend time in Rainbow Falls, the section of the Wailuku River that’s most popular. We’d have to admit that Rainbow Falls is spectacular, and it’s worth spending a good amount of time in. Even if you are tired from an entire day spent at Rainbow Falls, take the drive just about a mile and half up the road to see the Boiling Pots. You might not ever get to go back to that area, and you definitely don’t want to miss this sight.
2. Don't go for a swim
In fact, you should never go for a swim in the Boiling Pots. Although it’s inviting, the waters here are extremely treacherous. A flash flood can happen anytime, and you wouldn’t want to be caught in the currents when that happens.
3. Do enjoy the cement overlook
There is a section by the water that will allow you the best view of the Boiling Pots. This is the most recommended location for viewing and enjoying the area. Not only will you get some good photos here, you’ll also be safe. The cement overlook is just a short walk from the paved parking lot.
4. Don't wear the wrong footwear
Whether you’re planning a quick visit or planning to hike that day, make sure you’re wearing the proper footwear. Seeing the Boiling Pots in action, you’re going to want to get a better look. If you want to do some exploring around the area, wear the right shoes to prevent any accidents—especially if you plan to do the next thing.
5. Do a hike to the edge of the river
If you are particularly adventurous and want to get a little more out of your Boiling Pots visit, go ahead and hike down to edge of the river. Just because you can’t go for a swim doesn’t mean you can’t get closer to the water. Getting down to the edge will give you a different point of view of the river. Just make sure you are taking extra precautions on your way down and that you’re wearing proper shoes.
6. Don't hike up the riverbed
Many visitor to the Boiling Pots are drawn to hike up the river bed to get close to the falls, but visitors are warned not to do this. Make sure not to try to go to the river gulch either. The weather in the area is unpredictable, and the dangers are also plentiful. In fact, there have been many fatalities here from people falling over the cliffs or from the flash floods. It’s true that views by the waterfall are incredible. But they aren’t worth getting hurt from.
7. Do have a picnic
One of the many ways to enjoy the Boiling Pots and the view is by enjoying it during a picnic. This means that you’ll have to pack something with you to enjoy. There are a couple of picnic tables in the area for use, but you can always bring a blanket to set a picnic down wherever you want. Just make sure that you set up somewhere flat and away from the gorge.
8. Don't leave any footprints
As a general rule of enjoying nature, make sure you take photos and nothing else. Make sure you don’t leave anything either—whether that’s trash or other personal belongings. It’s our collective responsibility to care for the beauty that surrounds us, and something as awesome as the Boiling Pots and the Pe’epe’e Falls should be preserved and respected.
9. Do read up on the history and myth
Hawaii is rich in culture and folklore, and it’s one of the things that make it so stunning. There’s a legend that tells the story of the Hawaiian goddess of the moon, Hina. She dwells in the bottom of Rainbow Falls, and her story continues at the Boiling Pots. Hina is the sister of the now famous Maui, who tried to save his sister and mother from a dangerous enemy, a lizard named Mo’o Kuna. Maui chased Mo’o Kuna down to the bottom of the Boiling Pots, but couldn’t find the enemy. So Maui called upon the goddess of fire, Pele, to throw hot stones into the river. The water then started to boil and continues to do so to this day.
10. Don't go without checking the weather
Although the Boiling Pots are good to visit any time of the year, make sure you check the weather just before your visit to make sure there’s no storm looming in the horizon. The worst time to view the river is after a serious winter or summer tropical storm. The waters might be too difficult to predict. It can rain anytime in the area, and light rainy conditions are okay. You might even get to see the much sought-after rainbow here. Just remember that a little precaution goes a long way.
Written by Dana Hanson
Read more posts by Dana Hanson