10 Best Waterfalls in Hawaii: Island by Island

Updated On: August 31, 2022

Hawaii

Hawaii boasts breathtaking scenery, gorgeous landscapes, splendid beaches, and crystal-clear waters. However, what stands out the most among everything else in Hawaii is its waterfalls. In fact, Hawaii has one of the highest densities of waterfalls in the United States.

The eight main Hawaiian Islands have some of the most beautiful waterfalls worldwide. Exploring the waterfalls, hiking along scenic trails to reach them, and swimming in their pools -if possible- are highly recommended activities on the Hawaiian Islands.

This guide presents some of the best waterfalls in 5 different Hawaiian Islands.

Hawaii 1 Hawaii boasts breathtaking scenery, gorgeous landscapes, splendid beaches, and crystal-clear waters. However, what stands out the most among everything else in Hawaii is its waterfalls. In fact, Hawaii has one of the highest densities of waterfalls in the United States.
10 Best Waterfalls in Hawaii: Island by Island 6

1- Big Island Hawaii

Being the largest island in Hawaii, the Big Island is home to some of the most wonderful waterfalls ever. It has every waterfall adventure to please different visitors. Below are two of the Big Island’s best waterfalls:

A- Rainbow Waterfalls

This 24-metre waterfall that flows on the state’s longest river (Wailuku River) is one of the best waterfalls to visit early in the morning. It gets its name from the fact that if one stands there with their back to the source of the sun, a rainbow can be seen arching across the falls.

Rainbow Waterfalls is flanked by lush tropical flora and boasts a scenic allure, especially in the morning. According to Hawaiian legends, this waterfall was home to Hina, the Hawaiian goddess of the moon.

It is easy to get to Rainbow Waterfalls within a few minutes even though there is a short hike that requires some effort.

B- Akaka Falls

Akaka Falls is one of the must-visit landmarks on the Big Island. This 422-foot-tall waterfall that flows year-round is a wonder. It is probably Hawaii’s most famous waterfall and the biggest attraction within the Big Island State Park.

Akaka Falls is easily accessible by hiking for less than an hour. Located on the north-eastern Hamakua Coast, the stroll to this waterfall is almost as beautiful as the falls itself. There is a paved pathway through scenic greenery and other small waterfalls, and it is surrounded by gorgeous views of the rainforest.

Hawaii 2 Hawaii boasts breathtaking scenery, gorgeous landscapes, splendid beaches, and crystal-clear waters. However, what stands out the most among everything else in Hawaii is its waterfalls. In fact, Hawaii has one of the highest densities of waterfalls in the United States.
10 Best Waterfalls in Hawaii: Island by Island 7

2- Maui

Maui is home to some of the most amazing and easily accessible waterfalls in Hawaii. Below are two of Maui’s best waterfalls:

A- Twin Falls

Located close to Paia, Twin Falls is one of the best and most popular waterfalls to visit in Hawaii. It is a pretty big place that is often uncrowded, and it boasts stunning views with a serene atmosphere. Among the enjoyable experiences there, you can swim in the pool or go cliff jumping. The best time to visit this magical place is right after a rainstorm as you will be able to see the waterfall at its best.

Twin Falls is the first accessible waterfall while driving the Road to Hana. After a bridge crosses the Ho’olawa Nui stream, you will find Twin Falls. It is about 30 minutes up the Hana Highway, and it can be reached by hiking along a mile-long trail.

B- Waimoku Falls

Dropping 400 feet down a sheer lava rock wall into a boulder-strewn pool, Waimoku Falls is an absolutely beautiful and alluring place on Maui. It is an exceptional waterfall where you can walk right up to its base, and it flows year-round. This spot also includes swimming holes downstream that are known informally as the “Seven Sacred Pools.”

Waimoku Falls is located at the end of the Pipiwai Trail, which is considered Hawaii’s best hiking trail. Along the trail, there is a bamboo forest and other several waterfalls. The bamboo forest gives the feeling of Thai islands where the sound of the wind blowing through the bamboo cane is amazing.

Hawaii 3 Hawaii boasts breathtaking scenery, gorgeous landscapes, splendid beaches, and crystal-clear waters. However, what stands out the most among everything else in Hawaii is its waterfalls. In fact, Hawaii has one of the highest densities of waterfalls in the United States.
10 Best Waterfalls in Hawaii: Island by Island 8

3- Kauai

Kauai has some of the best waterfalls, not only in Hawaii but also in the whole world. There is a variety of waterfalls with interesting ways to access, so everyone can find what suits them. Below are two of the best waterfalls in Kauai:

A- Wailua Waterfall

Wailua Falls is one of the most scenic and alluring waterfalls in Hawaii. Being 173-foot tall, Wailua Falls boasts a spectacular landscape. The falls split into two, and both streams fall into a pool of gorgeous waters.

This waterfall is particularly famous as it was used as the opening scene for the television series “Fantasy Island” from the 1970s.

Wailua Falls is located on the South Fork of the Wailua River near Lihue. It is next to a parking lot where you can park and walk down on a hiking journey until you reach the falls.

B- Hanakapiai Falls

Hanakapiai Falls is a towering waterfall located in the Hanakapiai Valley, which is a side valley of the Na Pali Coast. The waterfall drops from a height of 300 feet into a gorgeous green pool surrounded by fluted cliffs and a lush jungle.

Hanakapiai Falls is described as “gorgeous but challenging” as it takes some effort to get there. It can be found at the end of a long and rugged trail of around 4 miles. In fact, it is considered one of the most difficult hikes in Kauai. However, the view is worth the effort. 

The first part of the hiking journey is the Kalalau Trail, which goes along the shore of the gorgeous Hanakapiai Beach. After crossing the stream at Hanakapiai Beach, there is another 2-mile trail that passes through bamboo forests. At the end of this trail, you will see the waterfall.

The trail is totally unmaintained and difficult to navigate, and it goes through slippery and muddy slopes. It is recommended that you take as much water as you can on the journey. It is also better to have some hiking experience and to be moderately fit in order to hike as safe as possible.

Hawaii 4 Hawaii boasts breathtaking scenery, gorgeous landscapes, splendid beaches, and crystal-clear waters. However, what stands out the most among everything else in Hawaii is its waterfalls. In fact, Hawaii has one of the highest densities of waterfalls in the United States.
10 Best Waterfalls in Hawaii: Island by Island 9

4- Oahu

Oahu has a high amount of rainfall each year, which makes it possible to find many waterfalls all throughout the island. It is home to some unique waterfalls nestled behind scenic trails. Below are two of the best waterfalls in Oahu:

A- Manoa Falls

Located in Manoa Valley, Manoa Falls is a 150-foot waterfall that drops into a small pool. It is nestled in a tropical rainforest, which often causes the ground to be damp and muddy. Manoa Falls is better visited in winter because the pool gets even deeper, and the waterfall is even more beautiful. However, it is not permitted to swim in the pool below the waterfall due to the threat of bacterial infection.  

Manoa Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in Hawaii particularly because it is easy to reach. The trail to the waterfall is a roundtrip distance of just 1.6 miles. It is a well-maintained trail surrounded by amazing, lush views of Manoa Valley.

B- Waimea Falls

Waimea Falls is a 45-foot-high waterfall located on the north shore of Oahu. It is within Waimea Valley, which is a scenic botanical garden. There is a small entrance fee in order to maintain the beauty of the botanical garden. Waimea is one of the few waterfalls in Oahu where it is permitted to swim and go cliff-jumping.

Waimea Falls is one of the easiest waterfalls to reach in Oahu. The trail to the waterfall is less than a mile long, and there is an optional shuttle service for a small fee.

Hawaii 5 Hawaii boasts breathtaking scenery, gorgeous landscapes, splendid beaches, and crystal-clear waters. However, what stands out the most among everything else in Hawaii is its waterfalls. In fact, Hawaii has one of the highest densities of waterfalls in the United States.
10 Best Waterfalls in Hawaii: Island by Island 10

5- Molokai

Molokai is the fifth largest Hawaiian Island and one of the wildest and most beautiful places in Hawaii. This rural island offers vast natural landscapes and, of course, waterfalls. Below are two of the best waterfalls in Molokai:

A- Moalua Falls

Situated in the Halawa Valley in Molokai, Moalua Falls is one of the greatest waterfalls in Hawaii. It is a double-tiered waterfall that cascades nearly 250 feet down a cliff into a large pool surrounded by lush vegetation.

The hike to Moalua Falls is one of a kind. It is a 4.5-kilometre hike through private property. Therefore, you will either need a local tour operator to lead you through the hike, or you will need to get permission from the landowner.

While hiking to the waterfall, you will pass through wonderful native flowers, ginger, all kinds of mangoes, and other Hawaiian fruits. Other than hiking, there are helicopter tours leading to the waterfall for those who are willing to pay for it.

B- Papalaua Falls

Papalaua Falls is located in the Papalaua Valley, near Halawa, in the northern part of Molokai Island. It is one of the tallest waterfalls in the state of Hawaii. This waterfall is remote and hidden, so it is not visited too often.

Papalaua Falls flows for 1200 feet along a steep fissure made by the force of the stream. It is surrounded by extremely tall sea cliffs, deep valleys, and lush green vegetation.

The main way to access this mesmerizing waterfall is by helicopter ride. Even if the ride is from afar, the island’s breathtaking views are worth it. Otherwise, you can get to the waterfall by boat, but it is quite difficult as the waterfall’s north shore is remote.

Papalaua Falls are often mistaken for Kahiwa Falls, but here is how to differentiate them. While Papalaua Falls is located at the far end of a valley, Kahiwa Falls fall directly into the ocean.