Top 10 Best Hawaii Waterfalls: A Comprehensive Guide To Waterfalls In Hawaii

by | Jul 6, 2024

Have you ever wondered what makes Hawaii so magical? Among its many treasures, the Hawaii waterfalls are a spectacular highlight, casting enchantment over each island.

From the roaring cascades of Oahu’s Manoa Falls to the serene beauty of Maui’s Wailua Falls, these natural wonders paint a picture of paradise.

This guide unveils the 10 best waterfalls in Hawaii, each offering unique adventures and stunning backdrops. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual traveler, there’s a waterfall with your name on it.

We’ll provide all the details you need, including the best times to visit and safety tips to ensure your experience is as breathtaking as the falls themselves.

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This best Hawaii waterfalls post is written by Bryan Murphy, an expert in Hawaii travel and a top-rated podcast host. The post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission if you use the provided links. Learn more on my privacy policy page.

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📱 Mobile Tour App: Our favorite is Shaka Guide

Now, let’s explore the lush landscapes and cascading waters that make Hawaii a bucket-list destination for nature lovers around the world.

Key Takeaways of Hawaii Waterfalls

  • Hawaii is full of stunning waterfalls across its islands, like Waipo’o Falls in Kauai and Waimoku Falls in Maui, each offering unique hikes and breathtaking views.
  • Many Hawaii waterfalls are easily accessible for all ages and skill levels. Wailua Falls in Kauui requires no strenuous hike, while Twin Falls on Maui offers an easy trail perfect for families.
  • Safety is key when exploring Hawaii’s waterfalls. Always wear sturdy shoes, stay on marked trails, and follow local advice to ensure a safe adventure.
  • The best time to visit most of Hawaii’s waterfalls is from April to October for optimal weather conditions. However, some falls like Manawaiopuna on Kauai can only be seen through helicopter tours available year-round.
  • Entry fees vary by location; Akaka Falls State Park has a small fee while visiting Rainbow Falls is free, making these natural wonders accessible to everyone looking for beauty without a high cost.

Recommended Waterfall Tours

Best Waterfalls in Kauai

Kauai holds secrets of nature’s beauty, hidden in its lush landscapes. You’ll find enchanting cascades, like Waipo’o Falls and Wailua Falls, waiting for you.

1. Waipo’o Falls

Waipo’o Falls Kauai - Hawaii Waterfalls

Waipo’o Falls cascades down 700 feet in Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. This makes it one of Kauai’s standout waterfalls to visit. You’ll find it flowing strongest during the wet season, presenting a majestic sight.

Its height and location within the canyon offer breathtaking views, making your hike worthwhile. Families and those seeking adventure love this spot because it suits all levels of hikers.

The trail leading to Waipo’o Falls takes you through some of Kauai’s most scenic landscapes—lush valleys and towering canyon walls envelop you as you make your way toward the waterfall.

The journey is as memorable as the destination itself, ensuring a full day of exploration in one of Hawaii’s most beautiful settings on the island.

2. Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls Kauai - Hawaii Waterfalls

Wailua Falls, a stunning double-barreled waterfall, awaits you in Wailua River State Park. Famous for its appearance on the television show “Fantasy Island,” this triple flow cascade is more than just a sight to see.

You’ll find it easily accessible, making it perfect for all visitors wanting to experience one of Hawaii’s beautiful waterfalls without a strenuous hike.

For an adventure closer to the water, take a hike to the base. The journey is short and sweet—less than 1 hour covering 0.5 miles with an elevation gain of only 80 feet.

Moderate foot traffic means you won’t be alone in enjoying swimming and photo opportunities that feel straight out of a fantasy.

Whether looking up from below or admiring from afar, Wailua Falls encapsulates the breathtaking beauty found only on the Hawaiian Islands.

Waterfalls in Maui

Maui is home to breathtaking cascades that will fill your day with awe. You’ll find hidden gems like Waimoku Falls, a towering spectacle surrounded by lush forests, and Twin Falls, where the cool waters invite you for a refreshing dip.

Both spots offer trails that lead you through vibrant tropical scenery, making every step an adventure. Whether you’re hiking up to see the powerful drop of water from great heights or enjoying the scenic beauty from below, Maui’s falls create unforgettable memories.

3. Waimoku Falls

Waimoku Falls Maui - Hawaii Waterfalls

You’ll find Waimoku Falls at the end of a rewarding 4-mile round-trip hike on the Pipiwai Trail. This majestic waterfall towers at 400 feet, making it one of Maui’s tallest and most breathtaking natural attractions.

Situated within Haleakala National Parks Kipahulu District, this area is a treasure trove for nature lovers.

The journey to see Waimoku Falls takes about 2.5 hours to complete, offering more than just a stunning destination. Rated a 2.5 in difficulty, it might challenge you slightly but remains accessible to many hikers.

Along the way, you’ll walk through a lush bamboo forest before reaching this towering cascade. Swimming near the falls can be risky due to falling rocks and hidden boulders in the water below.

Parking is shared with visitors heading to the Lower Pools of ‘Ohe’o—another gem worth visiting while you’re in Haleakala National Park. As you plan your adventure, keep in mind that exploring Hawaii’s natural wonders like Waimoku Falls allows you to experience some of its most beautiful landscapes up close.

4. Twin Falls

Twin Falls Maui - Hawaii Waterfalls

Moving from the striking beauty of Waimoku Falls, we find ourselves at Twin Falls, another gem in Maui’s crown. These falls are not just a sight to see; they’re an experience waiting for you.

Unlike other waterfalls that might ask for a lengthy hike, Twin Falls offers an easy trail. This makes it perfect for families with small children or anyone looking to enjoy nature without too much effort.

Twin Falls stands out as one of the best waterfalls on Maui because of its accessibility. You can easily see these beautiful cascades from the road, making it a must-visit spot on your Hawaiian adventure.

The path leading up to them is gentle and welcoming, guiding every step toward this natural wonder. Whether you’re here to dip your toes in the cool waters or simply take in the lush scenery, Twin Falls promises a memorable visit full of tropical charm and ease.

Best Waterfalls in Molokai

Molokai hides some of the most stunning cascades in Hawaii. Discover Hipuapua and Moaula Falls, where the adventure leads to breathtaking views.

5. Hipuapua Falls

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Hipuapua Falls drops more than 500 feet over its majestic, multi-tiered cascade. It’s nestled on Molokai, an island known for untouched beauty and towering waterfalls. To see this spectacular sight, you start on a 5.8-mile hike roundtrip from Hālawa Beach Park.

This journey is not just about the destination; it’s an adventure through lush landscapes that showcases the island’s natural splendor.

Controversy has stirred among tour operators and hikers regarding access to Hipuapua Falls, yet those who make the trek find it worth the effort. A deep swimming hole waits on the right side of the falls, inviting you for a refreshing dip after your hike.

Always exercise caution and prioritize safety due to challenging terrain and variable weather conditions—this ensures your visit to one of Molokai’s best waterfalls remains memorable for all the right reasons.

6. Moaula Falls

Moaula Falls Molokai - Hawaii Waterfalls

You’ll find Moaula Falls tucked away in Molokai’s lush Halawa Valley. This waterfall is a sight to see, with water cascading down 250 feet over two majestic drops. It stands out as the more accessible of the two major cascades in the valley, making your journey here a bit easier.

To get up close, you start an adventure from Hālawa Beach Park, covering a roundtrip distance of 5.8 miles.

The trek to see Moaula and its sister falls Hipuapua is part of what makes visiting this place so special. As you walk through the valley, you’re surrounded by stunning tropical flora that feels like stepping into another world.

The pathway itself is an experience, guiding you through breathtaking landscapes until you reach these incredible Hawaiian waterfalls found only in tales of old Hawaii.

Best Waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii

Big Island dazzles with its cascades. Akaka Falls plunges down a lush cliff, while Rainbow Falls lights up with morning colors. These spots delight visitors and photographers alike, making them must-sees on your Hawaii adventure.

Get ready to explore trails that lead you through vibrant jungles and open up to these natural wonders. Whether you’re in for a leisurely hike or a photo hunt, Big Island’s waterfalls won’t disappoint.

7. Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls Big Island - Hawaii Waterfalls

Akaka Falls will captivate you with its breathtaking beauty. This stunning cascade drops 420 feet into a lush, green gorge within Akaka Falls State Park on the Big Island of Hawaii.

A visit here offers more than just viewing the falls from afar. You get to explore a well-maintained trail that leads to both Akaka Falls and Kahuna Falls, offering double the natural wonder during your adventure.

For a small entrance fee, this experience is within reach, allowing you to immerse yourself in one of the most beautiful waterfalls on the island.

The path to see Akaka Falls winds through a tropical rainforest filled with exotic plants and trees that make every step towards the waterfall an experience in itself. Flowing year-round, it’s a sight that never disappoints any visitor looking for majestic Hawaiian landscapes.

The steady sound of falling water and the cool mist enveloping the area create an enchanting atmosphere that feels miles away from everyday life.

If exploring some of Hawaii’s most awe-inspiring natural sights is on your list, make sure not to miss this easily-accessible attraction located in Hilo; it’s truly one of Hawaii’s jewels.

8. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls Big Island - Hawaii Waterfalls

Moving from the stunning Akaka Falls, you’ll find another Big Island gem, Rainbow Falls. This beautiful waterfall is nestled in Hilo and offers a delightful experience year-round. It stands at an impressive 80 feet tall and is known for its accessibility.

You can get to this spot easily from downtown Hilo, making it a convenient stop on any adventure.

Rainbow Falls gets its name from the magical rainbows that form in the mist of the falls when visited in the morning sun. These moments create perfect photo opportunities that you won’t want to miss.

Best of all, visiting these falls won’t cost you anything—it’s free! This makes Rainbow Falls an ideal destination for families or anyone looking to experience some of Hawaii’s natural beauty without spending extra money.

Oahu’s Best Waterfalls

Oahu hides some of the most breathtaking waterfalls in Hawaii. You’ll find trails leading to Manoa Falls and Waimea Falls, promising lush views and a peek into natural wonders.

9. Manoa Falls

Manoa Falls Oahu - Hawaii Waterfalls

Manoa Falls stands out as one of Oahu’s tallest waterfalls, offering a spectacular view after a walk through a vibrant rainforest. This journey to see the falls is easy and takes you through scenes filled with jungle terrains, bamboo groves, and banyan tree arches.

You don’t need tickets or reservations to enjoy this adventure—there’s no entrance fee.

As you trek towards Manoa Falls, take note that swimming at the base pool isn’t allowed for safety reasons. Yet, this spot remains unrivaled for those who love nature walks amidst lush surroundings.

10. Waimea Falls

Waimea Falls Oahu - Hawaii Waterfalls

Moving from the lush trails of Manoa Falls, we find ourselves at Oahu’s Waimea Valley, home to the breathtaking Waimea Falls. This spot isn’t just about the stunning waterfall; it’s a journey through Hawaii’s rich history and culture.

You can explore ancient archaeological sites that give you a glimpse into traditional farming practices long before modern times. Cultural demonstrations here bring Hawaiian traditions to life right before your eyes.

Waimea Falls stands out for its historical context and offers you an unforgettable experience—swimming in its refreshing waters! Imagine taking a dip in this historic site, surrounded by verdant beauty and learning about the island’s past.

The valley also offers private shuttle guided tours focusing on either botanical wonders or cultural heritage, making your visit both educational and exhilarating.

Whether you’re exploring on foot or taking part in one of these insightful tours, Waimea Falls promises a mix of natural splendor and cultural depth unmatched by other waterfalls on Oahu.

Essential Tips for Visiting Hawaii Waterfalls

Before you pack your bags and head out to see Hawaii’s stunning waterfalls, keep a few key tips in mind. First, plan your visit for the early morning or late afternoon when the crowds are thinner and the light is perfect for photos.

Next, always wear sturdy shoes since trails can get slippery. Safety comes first – listen to local advice and follow signs at all waterfall sites. These steps will ensure you have an amazing and safe waterfall adventure in Hawaii!

Best Times to Visit Waterfalls in Hawaii

To catch Hawaii’s waterfalls at their best, timing is everything. From April to October, you’ll find perfect conditions for waterfall hunting. During these months, the weather cooperates beautifully, making your adventures more enjoyable.

Maui stands out because its waterfalls welcome visitors all year round. You won’t have to worry about missing out on gems like Waimoku Falls or Twin Falls no matter when you visit.

For Kauai’s stunning cascades like Waipo’o and Wailua Falls, aim for the drier months. This strategy helps avoid slippery and muddy trails, ensuring a safer hike. In contrast, Big Island’s waterfalls, including Akaka and Rainbow Falls, are also highlights not to miss during this optimal season.

If an exclusive experience calls to you, keep in mind Manawaiopuna Falls on Kauai can only be reached by helicopter tours available any time of year – offering a unique view of the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” As safety should always come first in your waterfall explorations, let’s move on to some important safety tips to keep in mind.

Safety Precautions

After deciding on the best time to visit Hawaii’s spectacular waterfalls, it’s crucial to focus on safety measures to ensure a memorable and secure experience. Always use bug spray and wear long sleeves and pants to keep insects away.

It’s essential for your safety and comfort while exploring nature.

Make sure you follow all pedestrian instructions available in various languages. These guidelines help keep you safe as you walk near the falls. Keep your belongings safe too. Don’t leave valuables unattended; protect them to avoid any loss.

Staying on marked paths is vital when visiting waterfalls in Hawaii. Going off-trail can be dangerous and harm the environment. Visitor Aloha Society of Hawaii (VASH) is there for assistance should you need it during your adventures.

Listen for emergency broadcasts too. They provide critical information about weather or other emergencies that could affect your plans.

Best Waterfalls of the Hawaiian Islands Wrap-Up

As we’ve journeyed through the lush landscapes of Hawaii, it’s clear that the waterfalls of the islands are some of the most stunning natural wonders.

From the towering heights of Akaka Falls on the Big Island to the serene ambiance of Wailua Falls in Maui, these cascades offer something special for every visitor.

Whether it’s the adventurous trails leading to Hanakapi’ai Falls or the easy access of Opaekaa Falls on the side of Kauai, Hawaii’s waterfalls truly cater to all.

As we conclude, remember that each waterfall, whether it flows during the wet season or lies hidden on the road to Hana, tells a story. Exploring them not only connects us with nature but also with the rich cultural tapestry of Hawaii.

So, pack your bags and make your next trip as majestic as the waterfalls themselves.

 

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Frequently Asked Questions: Top 10 Best Hawaii Waterfalls

1. What are some of the best waterfalls in Hawaii?

Hawaii is home to many stunning waterfalls, including Wailua Falls on Maui, Sacred Falls, and Hanakapiai Falls.

2. Where can I find one of the tallest waterfalls in Hawaii?

One of the tallest waterfalls in Hawaii can be found on the Big Island of Hawaii, known as Kahiwa Falls.

3. Which waterfall is often referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific”?

The waterfall that is compared to the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” is Waimea Falls on Kauai.

4. What is a must-see waterfall on the Big Island?

Manawaiopuna Falls, also known as Jurassic Falls, is a must-see waterfall on the Big Island of Hawaii.

5. Are there any famous waterfalls on the island of Oahu?

Yes, one of the famous waterfalls on Oahu is Manoa Falls located in the Manoa Valley.

6. Can you hike to most of the Hawaii waterfalls?

Many of the Hawaii waterfalls are accessible via hiking trails, offering a rewarding experience for nature enthusiasts.

7. How tall is Papalaua Falls in Hawaii?

Papalaua Falls is a majestic 400ft waterfall located on Molokai, adding to the beauty of the Hawaiian Islands.

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Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy, owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel, is a certified Hawaii destination expert from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He actively participates in the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as a member and has a strong educational background focused on local culture and sustainability. As the host of “Hawaii’s Best Travel,” a top-30 US travel podcast, Bryan combines his years of experience with valuable insights. He connects with a broad online community, reaching nearly half a million people, and offers a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.