8 Great Hawaii Waterfalls Worth Gushing Over
Hawaii is blessed with an abundance of beautiful, rainforest-fed waterfalls that are worth the time and effort to see on your Hawaii Vacation. I wanted to share this list of Hawaii’s top waterfalls that I hope you have the opportunity to see when you visit the islands.
I’ll organize the waterfalls by island. We’ll start in the South on the Big Island and work our way North to Kauai.
Akaka Falls on Hawaii’s Big Island
This 442-foot waterfall is well worth the short walk it takes on the paved path. I never miss an opportunity to see it when I’m on the Big Island. For directions, advice and a video of Akaka Falls, see my article Tips for Visiting Akaka Falls. While you’re there, also check out Kahuna Falls (photo) that’s on the same loop trail as Akaka Falls.
Rainbow Falls on Hawaii’s Big Island
At Rainbow Falls, water tumbles down over an arch-shaped rock above a cave. This waterfall is located in the town of Hilo on the Big Island’s east side. This waterfall is easily accessed for everyone as there are no stairs or long walk to see this attraction. For directions, advice, and a video of Rainbow Falls, see my article The Big Island’s Rainbow Falls in Hilo.
Oheo Gulch on Maui
The Oheo Gulch is a series of cascading waterfalls and pools. You might hear Oheo Gulch called the seven sacred pools, but that’s not it’s real name and there’s actually nothing sacred about it. You’ll find the Oheo Gulch just beyond Hana off the famous road to Hana in the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park. Just before the park entrance, you’ll drive over one of the many one-lane bridges, but this one hovers over the Oheo Gulch. You can snap a photo from the bridge, but I do recommend that you visit the Kipahulu area of Haleakala National Park, if you have the time. See my article, Visiting the Kipahulu Area of Haleakala National Park.
Other Road to Hana Waterfalls on Maui
I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention that you’ll see around a dozen or more waterfalls along the road to Hana. This area might offer the most concentrated number of waterfalls that you’ll find in all of Hawaii, and possibly, the world. Some of the waterfalls you’ll see just off the road, others take a short hike to view, like Alelele Falls. If you are really into waterfalls, you might want to plan to spend a night in Hana so that you’ll have more time to find the many waterfalls off the road to Hana.
Manoa Falls on Oahu
To see the 100-foot Manoa Falls, you must hike 0.8 miles along a path through a lush green jungle. Visiting Manoa Falls can be as much about the journey as it is to see the waterfall itself. You’ll know for sure that you’re not in Waikiki when you visit the Manoa Valley and walk this trail. For advice and directions to Manoa Falls, see my article, Manoa Falls Trail, an Oahu Green Gem.
Wailua Falls on Kauai
Wailua Falls are probably the most iconic waterfalls in Hawaii. I think the photo speaks for itself, doesn’t it? These twin falls are easy to find and see when you visit Kauai’s east side. For directions, see my post, Kauai’s Wailua Falls. This waterfall is easily accessible for everyone.
Opeakaa Falls on Kauai
I like to describe Opeakaa Waterfalls as dainty because the water fans horizontally as it cascades down the lava rock wall. The brief diversion up Kuamoo Road (Highway 580) on Kauai’s east side is well worth the trip to see this waterfall along with the nearby views of Wailua River Valley. The views of Opeakaa Waterfalls is easy to access for everyone.
Waialeale Crater Waterfalls on Kauai
If you’d like to see lots of pencil thin waterfalls concentrated in one area, you’ll love taking a Kauai helicopter tour that takes you into Waialeale Crater, one of the wettest places on earth. It’s definitely a sight that will capture your attention.
As I close this article, I’d like to add a disclaimer. Hawaii’s waterfalls are fed by rain, so if you happen to visit Hawaii after a dry spell, you may not get to see the waterfalls when they’re fully turned on, so to speak. See my post, Hawaii in Contrasts Rain and Waterfalls, to see how much difference the amount of rain makes to Hawaii’s waterfalls.
With this list of great Hawaii waterfalls, I’m only listing a sampling of the many beautiful waterfalls in the Aloha State. What other waterfalls would you add to this list? Which Hawaii waterfalls are your favorites?
I love waterfalls, and I can’t think of a more gorgeous setting for them than Hawaii. It’s good to know they’re all over the place!
Gray — if you like waterfalls, you’ll definitely like Hawaii.
Did you swim in any of the pools at the bottom?
Dave – I’ve not swam in any of the pools from the waterfalls listed in this post. Some of them are either in accessible or people are prohibited from swimming in them I think the only one on this list that you can swim in is at the Oheo Gulch, though you do need to be alert for the possibility of flash floods.
There’s quite a few private tours in Hawaii where you can go to hidden waterfalls and swim. For example, we did this cool hiking tour of the Waipio Valley Rim and got to swim in a waterfall pool: https://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/04/11/waipio-valley-rim-hike-with-hawaiian-walkways/
Also, on a zipline tour we did, we had the option to swim in a waterfall pool https://www.govisithawaii.com/2008/12/08/review-princeville-ranch-adventures-zipline/
How about you? Have you had the opportunity to swim in any waterfall pools in Hawaii?
The waterfalls in Maui are cool however most are hard access to if you have any disabilites.I love the sacred pools.Also note if you swim in the sacred pools you should not swim in the bottom 4 locals do not due to the germs ect in the water.However beautiful to many humans in fresh water can tend to be pretty gross if you think about it with no where to use the restroom.Most waterfalls are used by jungle people know one knows but trust me there livin in the jungle in maui what do you think we use for bathrooms kitchen sinks.laundry ect.Tourist have some illision just because there in paradise they can escape germs and virsus be careful out there its a nasty nasty hot mess. I know people contract hep b on a daily basis in out waters here.Have fun Be safe Aloha
No… :^( One of these days. I live here and you have done WAY more than I have.
Ah, don’t feel bad. There are so many things in my backyard that I haven’t done either. 🙂
We swam in quite a few of the small waterfalls on the road to Hana. It was wonderful.
Awesome, Tina. I bet it was very refreshing.
There was a waterfall off the road to Hana that we swam in a long time ago (2003). I would love to go back there, but for the life of me I can’t remember how to find it again.
The Wailua Falls on Kauai are incredible, Sheila! Geez! I still have to get to the Manoa Falls, because you and Andy opened that up for me!
We just take too much for granted in the places we live. Still thinking about that Victorian hotel in NC! LOL!
Evelyn – I think the Victorian hotel that’s on your mind is a sign that you should visit NC. 🙂
Gorgeous waterfalls all around. I have only visited the Big Island, but loved Akaka Falls. Waialeale Crater Waterfalls on Kauai looks pretty appealing though. Time for a re-visit!
Thanks, Suzy! I’m glad you’ve seen Akaka Falls. I love that waterfall, too. The first time I went to see those falls, a think fog had rolled in and I was only able to hear the falls. Luckily, I’ve been able to return to see them several more times and seeing them never gets old.
Hope you get to re-visit Hawaii soon!
Do you need a tour guide to go see these water falls
No, except for the last one, that’s visible by helicopter tour.