About This Blog

This blog is to share with you some of the highlights of my visits to Hawaii and miscellaneous Hawaiiana. Hawai'i has had a great impact on my life. To see more on why I keep this blog, see: The Impact of Hawai'i in My Life.

Also, check out the Hawaiian Trivia Quiz.


Hawaiian Waterfalls

I love waterfalls. Visiting them is one of my favorite things to do in Hawai'i.  There is something about water... wonderful, mysterious, soothing, healing, refreshing, spiritual and life-giving.  Add to that a tropical setting and you have the makings for a beautiful, amazing experience.

This is a review of some of the Hawaiian Islands' best waterfalls, most of which I have visited - or in some cases rather, I have experienced.  Other waterfalls shown here are those I have identified as must-sees on future trips to the islands.


Wailua Falls - "Da plane! Da Plane!" - famous quote from the old TV show Fantasy Island, which used this beautiful waterfall in it's opening scene. Wailua Falls is perhaps the most famous waterfall in all of the islands, and certainly one of the best and easily accessed on Kaua'i. The road brings you right up to an excellent view area.  It has become quite popular and the view area can get somewhat crowded, but it is an absolute view-worthy jaunt, only a few miles north of the town of Lihu'e.

Although access to the top of the falls is prohibited and fenced off, there are those who climb over and do it anyway.  As a younger man, I went down before it was fenced and found an awesome perspective looking down from the top, near the edge. 

Opae'ka'a Falls - A beautiful, lacy waterfall with an easy roadside viewpoint, although it doesn't get you too close.  Access to the falls is challenging at best - through private property and very steep and slick to the bottom. 


Secret Falls - This falls is accessed by a one mile trail from a spot along the Wailua River, which is best accessed by kayak.  Not many other than the adventuresome get here.  Kayaks can be rented near the mouth of the river.

Kalihiwai Falls - A short hike along the Kalihiwai stream, starting near the highway bridge, accesses the waterfall.  It can be seen from the highway, although there is not a good place to stop and see it.

Queens Bath Trail Falls - A short hike down to the popular Queens's Bath, an oceanside tidepool swimming hole, allows a nice view of and access to this small but pretty waterfall.  Enjoying Queen's Bath is a great Kaua'i experience for which I have been privileged a couple of times.


Ho'opi'i Falls - This is actually two separate cascades along the Kapa'a stream, both with the same name. Access comes by a short hike from a neighborhood road in the Wailua area.  This one was on my list to see on my last trip to Kaua'i, but time and sore feet from hiking to Kalalau didn't allow. Next time.

Kipu Falls - Unfortunately, this place is now closed to the public, but experiencing this spot is a wonderful memory from a previous trip. One of my most awesome waterfall and pool experiences ever, complete with a rope swing out into the pool, tree root climbing and a beautiful setting.

Manawaiopuna (Jurassic Park) Falls - Famous for it's helicopter landing scene in the movie "Jurassic Park", this stunning waterfall is accessible only by limited helicopter tours that get close, and sometimes land in front of it.  I haven't yet been on a helicopter, but this will be a chief objective for my next trip to Kaua'i.


Several beautiful waterfalls, both small and large are found on or near the 11.5 mile Kalalua Trail on the Na Pali Coast of Kaua'i.  My journey to Kalalau in 2013 (see My Journey to Kalalau) was one of the greatest experiences of my life, benefitted greatly by experiencing some of these amazing waterfalls.

Hanakapi'ai Falls - The first amazing waterfall accessed by a side trail of the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali Coast.  It's a 4 mile (8 mile roundtrip) hike, first 2 miles along the coast, and then 2 more up the Hanakapi'ai Valley.  A great day trip that rewards with visual beauty, pool swimming, and an awesome trek into Kaua'i tropical wilderness.  The last two miles can be challenging if the weather is wet and the run-off is big.  Although I wanted to include this side hike off the main Kalalau Trail when I was there, it was a casualty for wanting to see too much and hike too far in a short time.  I may never do the whole trail again, but I'd love to return and go as far as to see these falls.

Hanakoa Falls - Six miles into the Kalalau Trail is the beautiful tropical valley of Hanakoa that has a 1/2 mile side trail up the valley to the falls surrounded by tall, sheer, verdant cliffs.  More remote and less visited, the spirit of this waterfall in a cove at the end of the valley is palpably soothing and mystic. Though it usually has a good flow, it can, as when I was there, be reduced to a trickle on a wet cliff during drier times.


Below the Hanakoa Falls is a pretty stream with several smaller stream cascades and mini pools.  On my hike in to and back from Kalalau these provided great refreshing spots to rest, soak and dip my head under.



Kalalau Beach Falls - The reward of an 11.5 mile hike along the Kalalau Trail is a glorious beach against a backdrop of tall, spired green cliffs, with a waterfall in an easily accessed, beautiful setting.  A great place to wash off / cool down after the long hike.  In an otherworldly, remote and tropical location, visiting this waterfall is a highlight in the overall grander experience of making it to Kalalau. I took a couple of showers under this falls, which is used often by campers, with the assistance of a curved plastic pipe left there to help you direct the flow away from the rock face to where you want it.

Kalalau Valley Big Pool and Falls - The trail leading up into the Kalalau Valley (1/2 mile before the beach) crosses the Kalalau stream several times, and offers several beautiful cascades and small pools.  One of the larger pools, Big Pool, has a good sized cascade falling in to a deep pool, allowing tons of fun for diving and swimming in the mountainside tropics.

I had this spot all to myself for a very heavenly 1/2 hour:
One of many Kalalau stream cascades:

Honopu Falls - Though technically not on the Kalalau Trail, the Honopu Falls is accessed only by swimming from the end of Kalalau Beach to Honopu Beach (which I did), or by kayak or small boat.  If my journey to Kalalau was of my greatest adventures, Honopu Beach and Falls was the crowning experience on my journey.  A blissful couple of hours was dedicated to experiencing this place acclaimed by The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook as "the most beautiful beach in all the islands, maybe in all the Pacific.  There is none finer. Period."  The waterfall and small pool is located behind a big sand dune and greenery near the south side of the arch between the two beach sections, creating a private little water haven. The pool was small, and the water heavily pounding, but the setting was unsurpassable. 



Maunawili Falls - A mile or so hike in to an Oahu jungle area, Maunawili Falls offers a fun spot for swimming and cliff jumping into a nice pool.  Most of the courageous visitors will jump off ledges at or near the top of the falls, around 25 feet tall.  More extreme thrill seeking jumpers will try a much higher ledge above the falls, estimated at around 50-60 feet high (not recommended for the faint of heart).  After watching a girl who was initially scared to jump off one of the smaller ledges then make the much higher leap, I decided I would give it a try.  Just getting up to it is an adventure up a steep, slick mountainside.  The view looking downward from up there was frightening. Watching others I could see that you had to jump out far enough to miss a branch sticking out.  I almost backed out, but wasn't sure I wanted to traverse back down the steep mountain, so I did it.  One of the most thrilling (and dangerous) few seconds of my life.

Manoa Falls - Although I've seen much of the island of Oahu, I have yet to see the popularly visited Manoa Falls, just outside of Honolulu.  The trail leading to it is a nice hike through a tropical jungle which offers a nice alternative to the big, busy city.  Next time I'm on Oahu, this will be a priority visit.

Waimea Falls - This waterfall is on Oahu's North Shore, and is the key feature of the Waimea Falls Park.  A popular tourist place, the falls and the park make an enjoyable excursion into tropical beauty.  A high ledge above the pools is sometimes used by cliff divers.  The falls are just upstream from the famous surfing locale of Waimea Bay.  I enjoyed this pool and hiking in the valley on my first trip to the islands.


Twin Falls - This waterfall is one of the first on the Road to Hana (or Hana Highway), which is one of the premier experiences to be had on the islands. Fifty miles of lush, tropical coastline on a narrow road that winds in and out of small valleys, replete with waterfalls.  To really enjoy it right, the Road to Hana should be taken at minimum as a full day excursion, starting early in the morning. With so much beauty to see and so many places to explore, a few days to a week in this area is even better. Twin Falls is a small hike from the road, and is a primer for many other falls down the road.

Puohokamoa Falls - This waterfall has been a favorite of mine since my first trip to Hawaii when I was 22. A great place with easy access off the Road to Hana, it has a nice pool below the falls. The waterfall is climbable and offers a nice ledge about 35 feet up to jump off from - a perfect height for me - thrilling but not too scary.  I've been here three very enjoyable times.



Waikani (aka Three Bears) Falls - With easy view from the road, the Waikani Falls is one of the many reasons why one experiences beauty fatigue while on the Road to Hana.  One beautiful scene after another presents itself along the road, making you wonder if you really are still on earth.

Wailua Falls - Another beautiful waterfall scene viewed from the road.  By the time you get to this one, you find yourself searching for new adjectives to describe what you are seeing.  The word "beautiful" gets tired, yet seems still very appropriate.

Oheo (Seven Sacred) Pools and Falls - This is a dream spot for rollicking in tropical beauty and water, with several falls and pools making their way down to the ocean.  The bridge at the top of the photo is the crossing of the Hana Highway (or really, narrow road) over the Oheo Gulch.  The first time I came here it was almost dusk, so time didn't allow for truly experiencing this place.  That only made me vow to return and do it right, which I did.  These falls and pools, along with the other waterfalls further up the gulch on the Pipiwai Trail, are heaven on earth.

Makahiku Falls - One of the two taller waterfalls along the two mile Pipiwai trail in the Oheo Gulch, on the Hana Highway (past Hana).  The Oheo Gulch has twenty-some odd falls and pools as it makes its way down to the ocean, ending in the area known as the Seven Sacred Pools.  The trail heads up valley and offers many rewards, not the least of which is the Makahiku Falls.  A gorgeous view is offered from the trail, and a short side trail leads to the Infinity Pool at the top of the falls.  It was here that I enjoyed one of the best "aah" moments I've ever had - 45 minutes of relaxing in this pool, all to myself, surrounded by tropical beauty and awesome views.

Waimoku Falls - This tall waterfall is at the end of the valley in the Oheo Gulch, accessed by the 2 mile Pipiwai Trail from the Hana Highway.  The trail is awesome itself, with great views of several falls on the way and coursing through a thick, mystical bamboo forest.  The reward at the end is a beautiful canyon cove with falls and a pool.  I enjoyed this spot while eating a couple of fresh guava from trees along the trail.


Hipuapua Falls and Moa'ula Falls - Located in the Halawa Valley on the east end of the island are two great waterfalls accessed by a hike through private lands, normally requiring the assistance of a guide. Although I have not yet visited the island of Molokai, it is top on my list for my next trip to Hawai'i. Experiencing these two falls, and possibly others, will be a priority.


Having only visited the western or Kona side of the Big Island, I was unable to see what seems to be some of the best waterfalls in Hawai'i, which are located on the eastern, or Hilo side.  There's some veritable majestic tropical waterfall beauty awaiting me there... Gotta go!

Akaka Falls -

Hi'ilawe Falls -
 Pe'epe'e Falls -

Rainbow Falls -

 Umauma Falls -

* Photos by Ken R. Young


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