There is a short (1/2 mile) loop trail (from the parking lot) that includes Kahuna Falls. You could take the trail just to Akaka Falls, but round trip it is almost as long as doing the loop trail. The trail is fairly easy.
As of two weeks ago the "loop" trail was closed for maintenaince. You can still get to Akaka falls with a 5 minute walk but no loop (at least a few weeks ago.
The falls are easy to get to, maybe 5 minutes off of the main loop around the island. There are plenty of signs.
you've had your question answered, but I think you need a good guide book and a map of the island. If you were working with those you wouldn't have been in doubt where Akaka lies on the island.
These are essential tools for trip planning!
The Drive Maps that come with cars are indeed useful once you arrive.
But for $20 or so you can have a guide at your side.
I like Lonely Planet for a small easy to pack book that is jammed with info. There are numerous books, geared for different travelers' needs.
Whatever you buy, get one dedicated to Big Island alone, not an all-Hawai`i book.
We walked the Akaka Falls loop in September with two small children (2 and 4 yrs old). It is the perfect distance for children that age, although we picked up the 2 year old a few times. The asphalt is bumpy in places and narrow, so not stroller accessible. We had a great time and the kids loved seeing the falls and walking in the steamy rainforest.
Akaka Falls is not far from the highway (maybe 11 miles). You'll pass by a cute town.
That cute town is Honomu and you should make sure to stop there and explore those little shops. You will find lots of things there that you can't find anywhere else.
Thanks, TT! I had forgotten the name of the town and was too lazy to look in my journal for it! Honumu has some great little shops (clothing, antiques, etc.) and restaurants. There is also a little stand (Mana's Aloha Fruit Stand?) along the road leading to Akaka Falls that sells unique tropical fruit you won't see elsewhere. Have fun!
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