15 Best Waterfalls In Hawaii You Need To Visit

When picturing Hawaii, you probably imagine the enchanting beauty of the serene beaches and the vibrant Hawaiian culture and people.

As well as the glistening waters, the white sandy beaches, and ominous volcanoes lie some of the world’s most jaw dropping and incredible waterfalls.

15 Best Waterfalls In Hawaii You Need To Visit

Tucked away in the lush valleys of Hawaii, you can find over 100 waterfalls. Many are the result of serrated, eroded mountain peaks and a fair amount of rainfall.

Up against the tropical jungles and lush green landscape, these waterfalls cascade with tranquility and power.

Of course, exploring each and every waterfall is not an easy feat. That is why we have selected 15 of the best waterfalls in Hawaii for you to visit on your next trip. From the Big Island to Kauai, our list of mesmerizing waterfalls are a must-see!

1. Sacred Falls, Oahu

We start with one of the most majestic waterfalls in all of Hawaii, maybe even the world! Sacred Falls, located in Oahu, is not the easiest to get to, however.

There is a 4.5-mile journey which includes a two to three-hour walk atop some unstable cliffs and along a tight gorge. Yep, it’s not for the faint-hearted and is considered a very dangerous hike by foot.

Because the trail is so dangerous, it is closed to the public. Anyone caught along the trail could face a large fine and even some jail time. So, KEEP AWAY from the trail!

“Okay, so how do we get there?” Although the trail and the 1,110-foot-tall waterfall is closed to the public, you can still catch a glimpse of its rare beauty.

This is done via a tour (there are several to choose from) where you can get a ride in a helicopter and see the waterfall from above. A sacred experience for a sacred waterfall!

2. Manoa Falls, Oahu

For those seeking a relatively easy hike or a quick adventure, the one-mile trail leading to Manoa falls is highly recommended. It is particularly suitable for beginner hikers and those who prefer a shorter up-and-back trek.

And, don’t worry, it’s not prohibited like Sacred Falls!

Along the trail to this waterfall, hikers are granted a great deal of freedom to immerse themselves in the awe-inspiring scenery, culminating in a truly spectacular waterfall that gracefully descends 150 feet down the mountain ridge.

Anyone who sets eyes about this incredible waterfall falls in love with its charm and beauty immediately.

It’s worth noting that the waterfalls exhibit a more dramatic and forceful presence during the winter months compared to the relatively calmer summer period.

And, if you happen to be a movie enthusiast, you might experience a sense of familiarity while traversing the trail.

This is due to the fact that many scenes from the popular TV series “Lost” and some portions of the original “Jurassic Park” were filmed in this captivating rainforest environment.

If you’re in search of a remarkable sight and a short, easy trail, then Manoa Falls should undoubtedly be at the top of your list.

3. Rainbow Falls, Hilo

Located in Hilo on the Big Island of Hawaii, Rainbow Falls is an impressive 80-foot waterfall renowned for its easy accessibility and the vibrant plant life that surrounds it.

As part of the Hawai’i State Parks, this captivating waterfall is conveniently situated just a short five-minute drive from the city center of Hilo. Therefore, it’s a must-visit attraction that can easily fit into even the busiest of vacation schedules.

What sets Rainbow Falls apart is its enchanting tropical flora, which provides a picturesque backdrop that photographers, both amateur and professional, will adore.

As the waterfall gracefully plunges into the pool below, adventurous souls may even find themselves tempted to take a refreshing dip.

Adding to its allure, there are intriguing legends suggesting that the cove behind the falls holds important cultural significance.

Legend has it that it is the burial site of King Kamehameha’s father’s bones, adding an air of mystery and history to this already captivating location.

4. Wailua Falls, North of Līhuʻe

Wailua Falls offers something unique in the “field” of waterfalls. Here, two streams of water, parallel to one another, cascade into the Wailua River below, forming a scene like no other.

Located in Kauai, Walua Falls sometimes becomes one singular waterfall. This is after a spell of heavy rainfall, as the two waterfalls combine into one gigantic explosion of water. Sounds scary, but it’s one of the most scintillating sights in the world.

Just about everything in Hawaii is linked to the native’s culture and history. The Wailua Falls is no exception. In ancient times, Hawaiian people saw the drop of 83 feet as a sign of bravery.

Fortunately, when you visit, you can stand safely back and enjoy the view from a safe distance.

5. Olo’upena Falls, Molokai

Considered as one of the most awe-inspiring and remarkable waterfalls throughout Hawaii, Olo’upena Falls proudly claims the title of being the fourth-tallest waterfall in the whole world! It stands at an astonishing height of 2,953 feet!

Situated on the northeastern side of Molokai, this cascading wonder is a tiered, slender stream that gracefully descends along the Haloku cliffs, renowned as one of the tallest seaside cliffs worldwide.

The remote location of Olo’upena Falls is surrounded by a series of mountains, rendering it highly inaccessible for exploration. That is why the falls can only be reached by air or sea.

Luckily, guided cruises and aerial excursions offer unparalleled opportunities to witness the breathtaking magnificence of this natural wonder.

6. Waipo’o Falls, Kauai

Hidden on the island of Kauai, Waipo’o Falls stands tall at 700 feet, creating a picturesque scene complemented by a stunning canyon backdrop.

As the second-oldest island in Hawaii, Kauai offers a unique setting for this magnificent waterfall. Make sure you pack your camera with your bathing trunks to capture some of the most memorable photographs!

While the waterfall only tends to flow during the wet season (December to March), the panoramic views it offers make it a worthwhile destination all year-round.

Waipo’o Falls shares its splendor with the renowned “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” also known as Waimea Canyon. Located on Kauai’s drier side, the combination of these two natural wonders creates an awe-inspiring experience.

7. Hanakapiai Falls, Kauai

Another towering waterfall, located on the Na Pali side of the Kauai island, is Hanakapiai Falls. Tucked away in the Hanakapiai Valley along the Na Pali Coast, this waterfall is accessible, but you’ll have to get your hiking boots on.

The hike itself is certainly not the easiest around. The nine-mile return hike is not for everyone, but if you decide you want to try it, make sure you prepare properly.

The hike is worth it, however, as the falls will not disappoint. Along the hike, you will enjoy stunning luscious jungle experiences and incredible views of colossal cliffs around you. The best way to experience Hawaii’s tropical landscape.

8. Waiilikahi Falls, Hawaii Islands

Located in the heart of Waimanue Valley, the renowned Waiilikahi Falls stands tall at 1,080 feet, living up to its well-deserved reputation.

While it may pose a challenge to access, requiring a descent into Wai’pio Valley and locating the Muliwai Trail, this only adds to the allure for adventurous hikers.

For those seeking an exhilarating experience, the opportunity to traverse the 9-mile stretch of switchback trails leading to this breathtaking waterfall is simply unmatched.

Unlike other falls situated in drier environments, Waiilikahi is enveloped in vibrant greenery, thriving with wild vegetation and amazing life.

If you are an experienced hiker and have an innate love for adventure, Waiilikahi Falls promises to be an unforgettable and thrilling expedition.

9. Waimano Falls, Oahu

Just a 3-mile hike will take you to the refreshing wonder of Waimano Falls. The short trek ends with free-flowing falls and an oasis of pools where you can take a well-earned break.

As you walk, you can enjoy the lush evergreen forest that enchants with every step.

If you’re an adventurer, you will love Waimano Falls. Being the top choice for cliff climbing, the falls offer adrenaline-pumping 15- to 20-foot jumps of varying difficulty levels for thrill-seekers and adventurous individuals.

After your hike, you can then enjoy the soft-bottomed watering hole for the most relaxing experience.

10. Li’keke Falls, Oahu

Travel to the tropical island of Oahu and you will find one of the most stunning waterfalls in Hawaii. Li’keke Falls boasts a multi-tiered cascade that takes your breath away, but be prepared for a slippery hike across mossy rocks and branches to get there.

If you love hiking, you can choose from two trails. One is the shorter hike from the Ko’olau Golf Course, and the other is the longest Pali Lookout Route, which take 15 minutes and around an hour respectively.

11. Hiilawe Falls, Hawaii Islands

Sitting at an impressive 1,450 feet tall, Hiilawe Falls on the Hawaii Islands holds a special significance in Hawaiian history. In 1795, this is the spot where the King, Kamehameha the Great, united the Hawaiian islands.

The flow is not as strong as it once was, however, due to a diversion made in the 20th century for irrigation purposes. That being said, Hiilawe Falls is still well worth a visit for an adventure day out.

12. Waialeale Waterfalls, Kauai

Waialeale, known as “the Weeping Wall,” gets its name from the Hawaiian term meaning “rippling, overflowing water.” And, when you visit, you’ll realize it is aptly named.

This magnificent waterfall descends from the heights of Mount Waialeale, the second-highest peak on Kauai.

Mount Waialeale itself reaches a towering height of 5,148 feet and is renowned as one of the wettest places on Earth, receiving an average of 452 inches of rainfall annually. But, thanks to this rainfall, you’ll never see anywhere quite as lush as here.

Also, 335 rainy days per year means this majestic mountain generates a multitude of waterfalls and vibrant rainbows cascading down its cliffs.

To access the falls, one of the best options is to embark on a helicopter tour. However, for the adventurous souls, a long and challenging hike can also lead you to this breathtaking destination.

13. Kahiwa Falls, Molokai

Kahiwa Falls, standing at an impressive height of 2,165 feet, is one of the tallest waterfalls in Hawaii. Located on the island of Molokai, this tiered waterfall consists of six distinct tiers.

Unfortunately, reaching the falls by foot is not possible. Therefore, the only way to observe these magnificent falls is from the sea or air. Fortunately, numerous boat tours and helicopter rides are available, so you can experience the fall’s beauty.

Despite the limited access, witnessing the captivating Kahiwa Falls is an unforgettable experience and is likely to be the highlight of your trip.

14. Manawaiopuna Falls, Kauai

Known as Jurassic Falls, Manawaiopuna Falls is known for appearing in the 1993 classic blockbuster “Jurassic park.” Reaching a height of 400 feet, this privately owned waterfall is an incredible site, especially for any movie buffs.

But, because it is privately owned, there are no public hiking trails to it.

The only way to get close to Manawaiopuna Falls is by taking a helicopter ride. There are several companies offering these escapades, but they are not allowed to land near the fall, so take that camera and take all the pictures you can from the air!

15. Opaekaa Falls, Kauai

Fancy having a picnic whilst you gaze at these incredible falls? Well, you can on your next Hawaiian trip!

Opaekaa Falls stand at 151 feet in height and are 40 feet wide. The water cascades into a pool below, giving off an inviting steam. But, don’t go down there as this is prohibited.

For families with children, there are plenty of amenities to use here, such as bathrooms, so you can enjoy a perfect family day out surrounded by majestic scenery.

In Summary

Hawaii boasts jaw-dropping beaches, volcanic lava flows, colossal mountains, and some of the most serene waterfalls in the world. All you have to do is visit as many as you can!

Alex Kallen

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