The Five Best Waterfalls to Visit in Hawaii

There are several beautiful waterfalls in Hawaii which visitors should see. They’re located on the Big Island of Hawaii, and on Kauai, Maui, Molokai, and Oahu. It’s only possible to swim at some of them, and some of the best ones are accessible via good hiking trails. One exception, which may be worth the helicopter ride, is Manawaiopuna Falls, which was made famous in the film Jurassic Park. The 360-foot waterfall is located on private property. Another exceptional one only accessible by helicopter is the spectacular Kaliuwa’a Falls on Oahu. Known as the Sacred Falls, this is 1,100-feet of scenery in Kaluanui State Park. At one time it was possible to reach the swimming pool at the bottom, but a landslide killed several people in 1999 on Mother’s Day and the state has closed the trail indefinitely. It is one of Hawaii’s jewels, but it can cost several hundred dollars for the ride to see it.

Waimoku Falls- Maui

The beautiful path leading to the Waimoku Falls is considered one of Hawaii’s best. It’s the Pipiwai Trail, and hiking along it gives visitors the chance to explore a bamboo forest and the 185-foot Makahiku Falls. The waterfall is situated in the Haleakala National Park, in the Kipahulu District of protected lands. Another plus is that it’s possible to experience the falls right at the base and the water flows all year long. Visitors should plan to spend anywhere from two to four hours at this destination. Following downstream from this 400-foot wonder, hikers will arrive at the chain of pools and cascades of the Oheo Gultch.

Wailua Falls-Kauai

This is one of the most picturesque locations in Hawaii for waterfall chasers to enjoy. You can drive to the falls and park in the adjacent parking lot for a full view from its adjacent lookout. There is a trail which leads to the foot of the falls, but it should be taken with caution and is generally advisable for the most experienced hikers due to the possible danger involved. Hawaiian legends tell that this is where Hawaiian royal men would risk their lives diving over the cliff to fling their bodies 80 feet below into the shallow pool at the base. It’s a top spot for visits because it is easily accessible without hiking and it became famous on the TV show Fantasy Island when it was part of the opening credits for the popular series.

Moa’ula Falls- Molokai

Tucked at the back of the Halawa Valley, this waterfall is accessible only by booking a guided cultural hike. The falls is on private property. There are many tiers and the main plunge is about 250 feet. It takes about a half-day to participate in the cultural hike, but it can easily be included in a day trip from Molokai. The money generated by the cultural hike supports the restoration of traditional taro farming done by the original Polynesian settlers of the island. The hike is a fairly easy 4.5-mile return along flat terrain for the most part. There are two streams to cross along the way and the mosquitos can be fierce. It does provide swimming at the basic of the falls.

Rainbow Falls-Hilo side of the Big Island of Hawaii

Often photographed for its lush tropical beauty, Rainbow Falls is part of the longest river in the state, which is Wailuku River. It’s not far from downtown Hilo and its popularity may stem from the legend that says that King Kamehameha buried his father’s bones in the alcove tucked behind its base. Another legend states that the mother of Maui, Hina, lived in the alcove. It’s a short 50-foot walk to the fall’s main lookout and very easy to access of stone steps which reach the top of the falls. Spotting rainbows there depends on the amount of available sunlight, the time of day, and the angle of the sun in relationship to the falls. It is such a beautiful spot that tour buses bring tourists on a regular basis.

Akaka Falls- Big Island of Hawaii

This stunning waterfall is easily accessible. It’s much like others located in steep gulches and inaccessible terrain only accessible by helicopter. The water flows all year long, which is another definite plus. Situated in Akaka Falls State Park, there is a smooth road which is easy to drive by car and a nice car park upon arrival at the loop trail. It’s about ½ mile round trip to see the falls and this takes on average about 30 minutes. On clear and sunny days its possible to view the peak of Mauna Kea volcano and the Keck Observatory perched on its summit. Akaka Falls has Kahuna Falls about 800 feet away when following the loop trail. The waterfall latitude is 19.85302 and its longitude is -155.15668. Akaka Falls is just north of Hilo in the tiny town of Honomu.


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