Are you looking for a list of the most breathtaking Hawaii waterfalls? This guide from a Hawaii local has everything you need to know.
Hawaii waterfalls are easily some of the most beautiful in the world. Flowing through gorgeous, lush mountain ranges, these stunning waterfalls can be found most of the Hawaiian Islands. While many of these Hawaii waterfalls can be accessed by car or on foot, there are also quite a few gems that can only be seen by sea or by air. Here are 23 breathtaking Hawaii waterfalls.
The Best Hawaii Waterfalls on the Big Island
One of the most famous Hawaii waterfalls is Akaka Falls. Because of that, the state of Hawaii has created the Akaka Falls State Park. That means there are tons of paved paths for you to wander around, making it the most kid-friendly waterfall on this list! Kahuna Falls is also in the park, but, honestly, it doesn’t stand a chance in comparison to the 442-foot Akaka Falls.
If you’re spending a day or two in Hilo, here are seven more waterfalls that you can visit.
At 2,600 feet, Waihilau Falls is the thirteenth tallest waterfall in the world and the third tallest in Hawaii! It is still kept in pristine condition, because Waihilau Falls is MUCH very difficult to access.
Located in the greenery-filled, cliff-ridden Waimanu Valley, Hilo locals are pretty much the only people with the knowledge to access this breathtaking Hilo waterfall. So if you’re a skilled hiker with a friend from Hilo, consider adding Waihilau Falls to your Big Island bucket list.
Officially located in Wailuku River State Park, Rainbow Falls, also known as Waianuenue Falls, is just a few minutes away from the city center of Hilo. The best time to visit Rainbow Falls is in the morning, as the sun may shine on the falls and make it look like it is wrapped in a rainbow! But, honestly, this 80-foot waterfall is breathtaking at any time of day.
Although the Hilo side of the Big Island is known for its waterfalls, Kona has a few that are worth your time. If you happen to be lucky enough (in other words, if it has rained enough recently), Kaluahine Falls might be flowing in Waipio Valley. Even better, it might be flowing right into the ocean! AND it’ll be flowing right into the ocean directly next to a black sand beach and bright green cliffs. It’s one of the most picturesque scenes in the world!
Do note that getting to Waipio Valley can be quite the challenge. Between the 4WD, extremely steep roads, hikes, and rainy weather, there are a lot of factors that may not work in your favor.
The Best Hawaii Waterfalls on Maui
One of the highlights of Maui’s famed road to Hana is the Oheo Gulch, also known as the Seven Sacred Pools. However, the highlight of the Oheo Gulch is actually Waimoku Falls.
At the end of the Pipiwai Trail and past the 185-foot Makahiku Falls lies the 400-foot Waimoku Falls. The four-mile round-trip hike to Waimoku Falls is surprisingly easy and well-maintained. So if you’re up for a bit of exercise, strap on your hiking shoes and check it out!
At 1,100 falls, Honokohau Falls is the tallest waterfall on Maui. This two-tiered waterfall is known to be one of the most breathtaking waterfalls in the Hawaiian Islands, and its aerial pictures are actually used in quite a few Hawaii tourism advertisements. Honokohau Falls is only accessible by air but be sure that your particular helicopter company will take you to these falls (as not all of them will).
Upper Waikani Falls
Upper Waikani Falls, also known as Three Bears is another stunning waterfall on the road to Hana. Located between mile markers 19 and 20, this specific waterfall is a little bit different. If you park just before the bridge and look over the edge of the bridge, you’ll actually be able to see Upper Waikani Falls from above!
Despite the fact that there are dozens of waterfalls on the road to Hana on Maui, my personal favorite is Waikamoi Falls (just before mile marker 10). There is no designated parking area for Waikamoi Falls, and nothing to indicate that it is the right waterfall.
To see it, you’ll have to pull over on the side of the road. (There is a bit of extra space to park a couple of cars before the bridge). Due to this limited parking, very few people will be visiting this waterfall at the same time as you! After walking for a minute or two from your parking spot, you’ll basically be at the foot of Waikamoi Falls!
The Best Hawaii Waterfalls on Oahu
Hamama Falls is a secret waterfall on Oahu, because it is on private property. The hike to this 30-foot waterfall is a little over three miles long, but it is not too strenuous. Keep your eye out throughout this Oahu waterfall hike for little swimming holes along the way, as the pool at Hamama Falls is not quite deep enough to swim in. The highlight of this waterfall is the fact that you likely won’t encounter anyone else on your hike! (Don’t worry, the path is still clearly marked.)
*Bonus: if you’re up for a little bit more adventure, there is another Hawaii waterfall just a bit off of the path to Hamama Falls: Waihee Falls. Do your research before you head off to find this secret Oahu waterfall!
If you’re interested, here are seven more amazing Oahu waterfall hikes.
Let me paint a picture for you. H-3 is a highway that winds through the luscious, plant-laden Koolau Mountain Range on Oahu. Even when it’s a drier time of year, the mountains are still bright green. Then, imagine during rainy season, when the water is pouring out of the sky and into each and every crevice of the Koolau Mountain Range. This creates dozens, if not hundreds, of waterfalls.
Located on the island of Oahu, the hike to Lulumahu Falls is about two miles long. It is on the Hawaii Board of Water Supply’s property, so it’s not quite legal. That said, it is still a relatively well-trafficked hike. The falls themselves are absolutely stunning, as Lulumahu Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls on Oahu. And you won’t have to worry about the crowds that you might catch at other Oahu waterfalls, such as Manoa Falls and Waimea Falls.
At the end of a narrow canyon in the small town of Hauula on Oahu lies Sacred Falls. Nestled in the greenery of the Hauula Forest Reserve, this two-tiered waterfall is truly breathtaking. However, as of a tragedy on Mother’s Day in 1999 when eight people were killed and 50 people were injured, accessing this 80-foot waterfall is actually illegal due to safety concerns. However, you can safely see Sacred Falls on a helicopter tour.
Book Here: Sacred Falls Helicopter Tour
The Best Hawaii Waterfalls on Kauai
As one of the most famous Kauai waterfalls, Wailua Falls has truly made a name for itself. Despite the fact that the island of Kauai has dozens of waterfalls that are worth a visit, this 140-foot waterfall still garners hundreds of thousands of visitors each year. If you want to get the best view of Wailua Falls, head over to this natural beauty in the morning, as, if the sunlight hits it right, you’ll get to see this powerful waterfall wrapped in a rainbow!
One of the most amazing things to do on Kauai is hike the Kalalau Trail to see the Na Pali Coast. Due to the grueling nature of this hike, most people just decide to turn back, rather than taking a two-mile detour to see one of the most stunning Hawaii waterfalls: Hanakapiai Falls. After following a path filled with bamboo and mountain apple trees, you’ll be able to bask in the beauty of the 300 feet of descending water.
Getting just as many visitors each year as Wailua Falls is Opaekaa Falls. Unlike the majority of the Hawaii waterfalls on this list, you can easily drive up to a lookout point and stare in awe of this 150-foot Kauai waterfall.
If you’re looking for an adventurous, yet legal waterfall hike to tackle in Hawaii, Makaleha Falls is the one for you! Located near Kapaa, Kauai, the hike to Makaleha Falls is a surprisingly heavily trafficked trail. After plunging through mud and a bit of rock climbing, the two-tiered Makaleha Falls becomes a refreshing oasis for adventurous hikers.
If you’re more of a water-based adventurer rather than a land-based one, Secret Falls is the perfect Hawaii waterfall for you to visit. Located on the waterfall-filled island of Kauai, Secret Falls, also known as Uluwehi Falls, requires a four-hour kayaking adventure to get there! This stunning 100-foot waterfall is definitely worth the effort.
*Full Disclosure: Secret Falls isn’t much of a secret anymore, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a visit!
Book Here: Secret Falls Kayaking Tour
Along the flowing Kapaa Steam on Kauai lies the three-tiered Hoopii Falls. While the first two tiers are great sights to see, the third waterfall is the true gem. As one of the widest Hawaii waterfalls on this list, Hoopii Falls offers something a little different than the rest.
While the vast majority of Hawaii waterfalls are located within a luscious green jungle, Waipoo Falls offers something a little bit different. Located in Waimea Canyon on Kauai, this 800-foot waterfall cascades through the red dirt strata of the canyon. The best place to catch a glimpse of Waipoo Falls is from the Puu Ka Pele Lookout.
The island of Kauai is known for its breathtaking waterfalls. The only reason these stunning waterfalls are able to exist on the island is due to the heavy rainfall that pours onto Mount Waialeale every year. Known as one of the wettest spots on earth, Mount Waialeale receives an average of 450 inches of rain per year!
One of the greatest showings of this massive amount of water is the Weeping Wall. Located in an area known as the Blue Hole, this gem of Mount Waialeale is home to dozens of waterfalls that are thousands of feet tall! These waterfalls all cascade into a refreshingly cold pool. It’s truly magical.
Made famous by one of the opening scenes of the movie Jurassic Park, Manawaiopuna Falls on Kauai is now commonly referred to as “Jurassic Falls.” This 400-foot tall waterfall in the Hanapepe Valley is actually only visible by helicopter. However, unlike the other waterfalls on this list that are only visible by air, Island Helicopters is actually allowed to land at the base of Manawaiopuna Falls for an up-close experience!
The Best Hawaii Waterfalls on Molokai
Often confused with the towering Oloupena Falls or the nearby Kahiwa Falls, Papalaua Falls on Molokai doesn’t get much credit. At 1,250 feet, it is still one of the larger Hawaii waterfalls, but it is only consistently seen during the rainy months of November to March. If you want to check out Papalua Falls, a helicopter tour is your only option. (It is even difficult to see these falls from a boat!)
As the third tallest waterfall in the world, the tallest waterfall in Hawaii, and the tallest waterfall in the U.S., Oloupena Falls on Molokai’s north shore is truly a sight to see. At nearly 3,000 feet tall, this amazing waterfall flows right into the ocean from the cliffs of the Pelekunu and Wailau valleys. Because of the remote location of Oloupena Falls, the only way to get a glimpse of it is either by sea or by air. There are no hiking trails to these falls.
Are there any other Hawaii waterfalls that you think should have made it onto this list? Let me know in the comments!
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