–  B I G   I S L A N D    O F    H A W A I I  –

canyoneering hawaii

Mauna Kea rises triumphantly from the depths of the Pacific Ocean to a height of 13,796 feet above the surrounding sea; it is by far the tallest volcano of the Hawaiian Islands and dominates its surroundings. The western slope sees little rain but the eastern flank receives 250 inches of precipitation a year, making it one of the rainiest locations to be found in the northern hemisphere. As a result the surrounding forest supports a vibrant, thriving ecosystem choked with dense vegetation and countless creeks and streams that are slowly cutting their way through ancient volcanic rock to an eventual confluence with the sea. The course and character of the majority of these creeks has remained unexplored and a mystery to this day due to the difficulty of travel, distance from roads and many other logistical challenges. However a quick glance at topographical maps and satellite photographs of the region clearly reveals a landscape riddled with deep gorges, remote waterfalls and massive pools that resemble an idyllic paradise usually found only in books and dreams.

Honili’i Creek (Upper)

Much of this route down the Honili’i River can be jumped, and will include nearly a dozen jumps of various size.  However, several of them will likely require ropes for a majority of crews.  This is a long, strenuous trip with one of the most lengthy total distance covered by any route on the Hamakua

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Pahe’ehe’e Creek

I listed this route primarily for its lower waterfall than an actual canyoneering route, however there are several nice waterfalls along the way if yo choose to do the full loop.  The lower waterfall is accessible from the highway and is a classic waterfall that characterizes the Hamakua Coast well.  Above this, there are two

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Honomu Creek

Another short but really quite fascinating route on the Hamakua Coast.  This creek gets its name from the nearby town of Honomu.  The lower section of the canyon is by far the best part and though the route is an easy one, the canyon enters a narrow slot canyon including a tunnel built back in

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Waikaumalo Creek

Waikaumalo Creek is a classic technical adventure and offers easy entry and exit options.  As well, it is a manageable day which should take you between 6-9 hours.  Starting from your car park at the lower end of the canyon, you make your way up the steep road to your drop in point higher up

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Haole Creek

Unnamed on maps, this creek is commonly passed by hundreds of tourists every single day thru Akaka Falls State Park.  This route is a great but rough loop that takes you down three beautiful waterfalls to the junction with Kolekole Creek.  From here, a steep scramble and bushwhack gains you back to the trail.  But

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Honokoa Gulch

Honokoa Gulch is an extremely deep, classic slot canyon located on the western slopes of Mount Kohala.  Typically a formation found in the desert southwest of the United States, this canyon in particular is unique to the area.  There are no other canyons like it on the Big Island.  Over eons of flash flooding, the

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Ka’ahakini Creek

A nice and relatively easy route that is a easily accessed and can be done in a few hours.  The first and last drops are both quite nice and is a pleasant, low key route that is a tributary of Kolekole Creek.  This is a minor tributary so can feasibly be done during periods of

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Ka’awali’i Gulch

  There are three big gulches as you head up the Hamakua coast up highway 19 out of Hilo and Ka’awali’i Gulch is the final of the three.  It features 5 great rappels up to 190 feet as well as a massive keeper pothole that can be avoided with some difficulty.  This is a unique

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Kaiwilahilahi Creek

With 4 drops up to 80 feet, this is a very nice route that can be completed at a casual pace.  Though the route initially appears to be quite long compared to others in the area, the terrain in the creek itself consists more of solid bedrock than loose and slippery rocks, which are common

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Kalaloa Creek

Kalaloa Creek is a short, one rappel canyon that is great for practicing on getting your feet wet on Hawaii style rappels.  It features one 40 foot drop right down the watercourse, and is a great free-hanging rappel by the end of it.  This route will take you probably than an hour round trip.  When

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Kame’e Creek

Kame’e Creek is a tributary of Hakalau Creek, one of the major watersheds on the Hamakua Coast.  This route drops you down a steep gorge that crashes its way to an eventual, dramatic confluence with Hakalau.  There are 5 major waterfalls including a two tiered, 170 foot plunge and several other quality spots.  This creek,

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Kapili Creek

This is one of the better routes on the Hamakua Coast.  On our first descent, I was pleasantly surprised to find a deep gorge incised with many beautiful waterfalls and punchbowls.  On both the satellite images and topo maps this route did not looks particularly promising but ended up being a fantastic route.  This is

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Kawainui Creek

This is a relatively short canyon that has a couple nice rappels.  Kawainui Creek is a major drainage of Mauna Kea and can reach flood levels very quickly.  It has two sections; that above Highway 19 and the short but nice gorge below the Onomea Scenic Route.  Below the scenic route, there are two outstanding

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Kilau Creek

This is a 6 hour route down a Kilau Creek that will drop you out at Lapahoehoe Point.  If this route were to be hit during the wet season it would end up being a beautiful route with waterfalls up to 115 feet.  Unfortunately, on our descent, this thing was running bone dry and the

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Maili Creek

Maili Creek is another nice route on the Hamakua Coast.  It has only two rappels but they are both quite nice.  The first one is about 90 feet and the last is around 50 feet or so.  This canyon has a great access point in the form of a county road, and the exit really

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Mana Creek

 In all my years as an explorer and adventurer I have never seen a route as unique and incredible as what is contained within the depths of Mana Creek.  This is a world class canyon with unprecedented scenery.  Yet the experience does not come easily; the price of admission on this one is particularly high. 

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Maulua Gulch

Maulua Gulch is one of the best routes on the Big Island of Hawaii.  The waterfalls that you gain access to in Maulua Gulch are world class.  The rappels are very exciting and features 13 drops in total, including one fantastic 180 foot plunge.  This is one of the few canyons that enters a deep,

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Nanue Creek

Nanue Creek is one of the classic routes on the Hamakua Coast.  There are numerous sections of the canyon that are very exciting.  Though it never really seems to enter a gorge or form any narrows, the rappels in the canyon are first class and there are several opportunities to show off your jumping skills. 

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Paukaa Creek

This is the first creek adventure that we had on the big island of Hawaii.  In retrospect it was quite the pathetic and lame adventure but we had to start somewhere, and this was it.  Though it probably doesn’t warrant its own description, the photos are here in case anyone is interested in this route,

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Umauma Creek

Though not particularly narrow by any means, Umauma Creek offers you many beautiful waterfalls with relative technical ease.  We hit three solid drops up to 90 feet though there are many downclimbs and jumps along the way.  Like many other canyons in the area, the final section of the creek before it ultimately drains into

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Waimanu Valley

Waimanu is one of those places that leaves you in a state of wonder, and is a feeling that only grows as you leave.  The bottom of this valley isnt even overly difficult to reach; it require a 9 mile, one way hike that takes you across terrain equally beautiful to Waimanu Valley itself.  There

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