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Best Waterfalls

The waterfalls of Hawaii are nearly as famous as its beaches. From towering Akaka Falls on the Big Island to an intimate roadside waterfall on the road to Hana on Maui, from the open-air falls on Kauai to the cloistered tropical sanctity of Manoa Falls above Honolulu, Hawaii offers endless possibilities for waterfall lovers. This overview tour will highlight some of the top easily-accessible waterfalls on the four main Hawaiian islands.

BEST WATERFALLS ON KAUAI

Kauai receives the most rain of the four main islands, so it isn't surprising that it includes a few great waterfalls despite its small size. In fact, Mount Waialeale, near the center of the island, is the wettest place on earth. The waterfalls in this central area are some of the most stunning waterfalls on Kauai, but most are visible only after strenuous and long hikes. Some are visible only from a helicopter tour.

There are some waterfalls on Kauai that you can just drive up and look at, though. Two great ones are located in the eastern part of the island, near Kapaa north of Lihue. The Wailua Falls waterfall is an impressive double falls with a large pool at the bottom. Opaekaa Falls, though smaller than Wailua at only 40 feet, is a beautifully-shaped waterfall in the side of a very green hill. It is often possible to see flowers blooming. On the west side of the island, Waipoo Falls is visible from the Waimea Canyon Overlook.

Kauai's Na Pali coast also has a number of beautiful waterfalls that drop directly into the ocean from cliffs high above the water. To see these, you really need to take a boat or zodiak raft tour of the Na Pali coast.

Explore Kauai's waterfalls further on our Kauai Waterfalls page.

BEST WATERFALLS ON OAHU

Oahu probably has fewer waterfalls than the other islands of Hawaii, but the ones that are here are great. Probably your best bet as a waterfall lover on Oahu would be the Manoa Falls trail above Honolulu. This trail is located at the end of a neighborhood on a hill overlooking Honolulu, about 15 or 20 minutes away from Waikiki. It is a tropical jungle experience (bring bug spray and an umbrella), but the trail is generally well-maintained. The waterfall at the end is pretty because of the rocks and moss all around, but the water itself is often a murky brown.

Another beautiful waterfall is located at the end of the Waimea Valley on the North Shore of the island (photo, above). For several years the Waimea Valley waterfall was managed by the Audubon Society. However, this area has recently changed hands and you will need to ask the new owners about access.

Explore these waterfalls on our Manoa Falls waterfall page and our Waimea Valley page.

BEST WATERFALLS ON MAUI

Maui is probably the best of the four main Hawaiian islands if you are a waterfall lover and don't want to hike a long way. Most of the best waterfalls in Maui are clustered along the eastern (windward) coast, which receives more rain than anywhere else on Maui. This is the "Road to Hana" area and includes countless small waterfalls, many without names. Among the named waterfalls, the best are probably Haipuaena Falls, Waikani Falls, Wailua Falls, and the waterfalls around Oheo Gulch.

Haipuaena Falls is a relatively small waterfall, but can be quite beautiful because of the proximity of ferns to the water. Waikani Falls is a triple waterfall and is also known as "three bears falls" because of the way the three flows decrease in size. It is in a very attractive grotto surrounded by lush foliage, and can become a single large waterfall after a heavy rain. At 95 feet, Wailua Falls is a spectacular sight and is one of the most photographed waterfalls in Hawaii. Finally, the waterfalls in Oheo Gulch are located in a wider valley in the Kipahulu/Coastal section of Haleakala National Park past the town of Hana. There are also several waterfalls in the area that you can hike to see.

Explore Maui's "waterfall coast" on our Road to Hana page.

BEST WATERFALLS ON THE BIG ISLAND

Most of the waterfalls of the Big Island called Hawaii are located along the windward (east) coast, in the vicinity of Hilo. Rainbow Falls and the Boiling Pots waterfall are located on the outskirts of Hilo itself. Rainbow Falls got its name from the fact that when the sun is right (typically early in the morning) it is sometimes possible to see rainbows in the water. Boiling Pots is an area of turbulent water with a waterfall nearby.

By far the most spectacular waterfall on the Big Island is Akaka Falls. It is over 440 feet high and is easily viewable from a short, level trail. When you see photos of the Akaka Falls waterfall, you will probably realize that you have seen it before in photos on travel publications. In addition to its astounding size, Akaka Falls is beautiful because of the rich greenery that adorns its cascading waters.

Explore the waterfalls of the Big Island on our Big Island Waterfalls page.

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