10 Best Waterfalls in Hawaii

Best Waterfalls in Hawaii

Who doesn’t know Hawaii? This Pacific island paradise is known for its magnificent scenery and immaculate beaches. The cascading waterfalls are among the most breathtaking features of its natural treasures.

Hawaii is home to various captivating waterfalls, from thundering cascades to secret jewels nestled away in lush jungles. This article lists the 10 best waterfalls in Hawaii, each of which offers an unforgettable experience.

Akaka Falls

Best Waterfalls in Hawaii

Akaka Falls is located on the Big Island of Hawaii. This 442-foot waterfall is surrounded by lush vegetation in Akaka Falls State Park. The waterfall is fed by the Kolekole Stream, which originates from the slopes of Mauna Kea.

A short half-mile loop trail takes you through a tropical rainforest, leading to stunning viewpoints of the falls. The paved trail is well-maintained and accessible.

Akaka Falls has a legend behind it. It is named after a warrior who loved a maiden named Lehua. His brother killed him in a fight, and he became the waterfall. Lehua became a flower that grows near the falls.

It provides an enjoyable hike. Visitors often praise the beauty of Akaka Falls, calling it a serene and magical place.

Also, explore the nearby Kahuna Falls and the botanical wonders at the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden. The botanical garden will provide you with a chance to learn about the rich flora of the region. 

Wailua Falls

Best Waterfalls in Hawaii

On the island of Kauai, Wailua Falls reigns as a picturesque double-tiered waterfall, plummeting over 150 feet into a pool below. This iconic waterfall can be seen from the roadside, making it easily accessible to visitors.

However, for a closer view, a short hike down the trail will reward you with a breathtaking vista. Wailua Falls is famous for being featured in the opening credits of the TV show “Fantasy Island.”

It is also where ancient Hawaiian men used to jump from the top to prove their courage, but this is very dangerous and not recommended. 

After marveling at the falls, explore the nearby Wailua River and enjoy kayaking, paddle boarding, or a boat tour to the famous Fern Grotto.

Rainbow Falls

Best Waterfalls in Hawaii

Situated just a short drive from Hilo on the Big Island, Rainbow Falls lives up to its name by often displaying vibrant rainbows in the early morning hours.

The falls are also associated with a Hawaiian legend that says that the goddess Hina lives in a cave behind the waterfall. With an 80-foot drop into a large turquoise pool, this natural wonder is truly captivating.

A paved path leads to a viewpoint where visitors can admire the beauty of the falls. Visiting Rainbow Falls after rainfall is advisable to witness its true magnificence. 

While in Hilo, take the opportunity to explore the nearby Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, the Mauna Loa Macadamia Nut Factory, and the Liliuokalani Gardens.

Manoa Falls

Best Waterfalls in Hawaii

This waterfall is located in the Manoa Valley of Oahu. Manoa Falls offers a serene escape from the bustling city of Honolulu.

This 150-foot waterfall is set amidst a lush rainforest, accessible via a moderately challenging 1.6-mile trail.

The rainforest is home to many native and endangered species, such as the Oahu Repair, a small forest bird, and the Hawaiian happy-face spider, a yellow spider with a smiley face pattern on its abdomen. Remember to wear sturdy shoes and bring insect repellent for an enjoyable trek.

Waikiki Beach is near the falls. You can take time to relax, soak up the sun, and indulge in various water activities.

Hanakapiai Falls

Best Waterfalls in Hawaii

Nestled along the Napali Coast of Kauai, Hanakapiai Falls is a hidden gem accessible via the challenging Kalalau Trail.

This 8-mile round-trip hike takes you through lush valleys, bamboo forests, and majestic cliffs, providing stunning coastline views.

At the end of the trail, the 300-foot Hanakapiai Falls awaits, surrounded by a tranquil pool. Due to the hike’s difficulty, it is recommended for experienced hikers and adventurers.

While in Kauai, don’t miss out on exploring the Na Pali Coast by boat or helicopter to witness its breathtaking beauty from different perspectives.

Opaekaa Falls

Best Waterfalls in Hawaii

Another gem on the island of Kauai, Opaekaa Falls, is easily accessible, offering a spectacular sight for visitors. It can be seen from a roadside lookout on Kuamo’o Road.

The name Opaekaa means “rolling shrimp” in Hawaiian because the stream used to be full of shrimp that rolled in the turbulent water at the base of the falls.

Located just a few miles from Wailua Falls, this 151-foot waterfall cascades down a lush mountainside into a calm pool.

A viewing area near the parking lot provides a great vantage point to capture beautiful photographs. Surrounding Opaekaa Falls are panoramic views of the Wailua River Valley, adding to the site’s allure.

While in the area, take a trip to the nearby Smith’s Tropical Paradise, where you can enjoy a riverboat tour, botanical gardens, and traditional Hawaiian cultural performances.

Waimoku Falls

Best Waterfalls in Hawaii

In the Haleakala National Park on Maui, Waimoku Falls is a breathtaking sight that rewards hikers who brave the Pipiwai Trail.

This 4-mile round-trip trail takes you through a bamboo forest and past streams and offers awe-inspiring views of the lush landscapes. The trail is moderately strenuous.

At the trail’s end, the towering 400-foot Waimoku Falls awaits, cascading down a sheer lava rock wall. Be prepared for some muddy sections and uneven terrain along the way. Waimoku Falls is one of the most scenic and rewarding hikes in Maui.

After the hike, take a scenic drive along the famous Road to Hana, where you can explore numerous waterfalls, beaches, and tropical gardens.

Hiilawe Falls

Best Waterfalls in Hawaii

Hiilawe Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Hawaii. This majestic waterfall drops over 1,200 feet into a lush valley in Waipio Valley.

The waterfall is fed by a stream originating from the slopes of the Kohala Mountains, the oldest of the five volcanoes that make up the island. Access to Hiilawe Falls is challenging and requires permission from the landowners.

Alternatively, you can view the falls from a distance by taking a helicopter tour or hiking to an overlook. The waterfall is also revered by Native Hawaiians, who believe it is home to Hiilawe, a vital water spirit who controls the flow of water and grants desires to those who honor him.

While on the Big Island, explore the Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, where you can witness the power of an active volcano and hike through lava fields.

Waipoo Falls

Best Waterfalls in Hawaii

Waipoo Falls on Kauai, located in Waimea Canyon, sometimes known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” is a breathtaking sight for visitors.

This 800-foot waterfall cascades down the canyon walls into a vibrant green valley. The hike to Waipoo Falls is approximately 3 miles round trip and rewards hikers with panoramic canyon views along the way.

The trail can be steep and challenging sometimes, so come prepared with sturdy footwear.

While in Waimea, explore the stunning views of Waimea Canyon, visit the Kokee Natural History Museum, and take in the beauty of the nearby beaches.

Umauma Falls

Best Waterfalls in Hawaii

Situated on the Hamakua Coast of the Big Island, Umauma Falls offers a triple-tiered waterfall experience that is truly unforgettable. The falls are surrounded by lush tropical vegetation and offer scenic river valley views.

This privately owned waterfall lets visitors view it from a well-designed zipline and adventure park. Soar through the air and witness the beauty of Umauma Falls from a unique perspective. Afterward, you can relax and swim in the natural pool at the base of the falls.

While on the Big Island, make sure to visit the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, the nearby Akaka Falls, and the historic town of Hilo.

Conclusion

The natural beauty of Hawaii is brilliantly displayed by its spectacular waterfalls. From the lush green valleys of Kauai to the dramatic landscapes of the Big Island, each waterfall provides an unforgettable experience. Each of these 10 best waterfalls in Hawaii is a must-visit spot. So gather your belongings, lace on your hiking boots, and set out to discover the spectacular splendor of Hawaii’s waterfalls.

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