Boiling Pots – Hilo

Boiling Pots – Gaze into Dangerous Beauty in Hilo While Reflecting on Local Legends
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

When you want to marvel at the sheer beauty and danger of riverside landscapes in paradise, put Boiling Pots on your itinerary. Although it’s officially called Peepee Falls, its common name sums up the show you’ll see when you arrive. The rainfall works with the underwater lava formations in the Wailuku River to create bubbling cauldrons, creating a true sight to behold – from afar.  

- The Local Expert Team

If you want to marvel at the dangerous beauty of Hilo landscapes, put Boiling Pots on your radar, for sure. Also known as Peepee Falls, this natural landmark shows the sheer power of the Wailuku River in all its glory. After heavy rainfalls, the lava formations turn the river into a series of bubbling caldrons that you must see to believe. For the greatest impact, you’ll want to reflect on the local legend – dubbed the Story of Hina – while viewing the spectacular show.

As the story goes, Hina, the mother of Maui, once lived in the cave by the riverside. When Maui would go on his travels, a suiter, Lono-Kaheo, would come by to try to win Hina’s heart. When she refused his advances, he threw her into the river to drown, but she was rescued by Maui. Then, Maui turned Lono-Kaheo into the lava rock along the river where he ferociously bubbles up the water to this day.

While adding to the drama of the bubbling waters, the story also serves as a cautionary tale. Just like with Hina, the remnants of Lono-Kaheo threaten to drown all who come within his reach. So, with that in mind, it’s best to stay far away from the edge of the river near Boiling Pots. Even accidentally slipping into the water could spell disaster, after all. When viewed from afar, however, the seemingly boiling water proves a magnificent sight, allowing you to add the true beauty and power of paradise to your photo collection.

Before you come by, however, you’ll want to check the weather carefully for any sign of rainfall or other stormy weather. Flash floods can prove deadly, even when standing far back from the river’s edge. Skip the trip altogether if the weather doesn’t look outright pleasant. If the conditions are favorable, you can find this waterfall about a mile up the road from Rainbow Falls.

You’ll find the public parking area where Wailuku Drive and Peepee Falls Road meet. A bathroom, picnic tables, and trash cans are located near the parking lot. Once you leave your car, you can see Peepee Falls from the lookout point along the road. But the boiling caldrons will still prove elusive. To get a better look at the pots, carefully make your way down the trail on the right side of the lookout point.

Since the path can prove slippery, wear grippy hiking shoes at the very least. You might also want to bring your hiking poles for a little extra support as you traverse the trail. Wear locally sourced bug spray, reef-safe SPF 50+ sunscreen, and a sunhat as well. Sunglasses can prove beneficial, too, especially since the bright sunlight often reflects off the water into your eyes. Then, watch your footing as you travel along the trail, making sure to avoid any rocks jutting up out of the surface.

Upon reaching a point where you can view the pots, stop on the trail and simply enjoy the fantastic view. You don’t want to get any closer than you need to, after all, as the riverside can prove quite dangerous. Reflect on the tale of Hina and even share the story with people around you upon getting the chance. Don’t forget to take a few pictures of your trip as well, so you can remember your trek forevermore. Once you’re done, hike back up to safety and continue on with your Big Island adventures.

Insider Tips:
-If it hasn’t rained recently, there’s no point in trying to walk down the trail to see the boiling pots.
-When the pots start bubbling up, the trail is definitely muddy and rather slippery to boot.
-Even when the water looks calm, never try to swim in this part of the river.