The Top 10 Waterfalls in Hawaii

Published on September 24th, 2021

Synonymous to some with paradise, it’s completely unsurprising that Hawaii has some of the most stunning waterfalls to offer in the entire United States — if not the entire world. There are many options to choose from no matter which of the islands you visit, ranging in accessibility from a short hike to an expensive chartered helicopter ride.

While we could easily write a much longer list than this, we wanted to gather 10 of the most beautiful and iconic Hawaii waterfalls in one place so visitors would have easy access. Without further ado, here they are!

Top 10 Waterfalls in Hawaii

1. Wailua Falls

2. Manawaiopuna Falls

3. Waimea Falls

4. Lulumahu Falls

5. Olo’upena Falls

6. Waimoku Falls

7. Waikani Falls

8. Wai‘ilikahi Falls

9. Hiilawe Falls

10. Akaka Falls State Park

Visiting Waterfalls in Hawaii

Here are our picks for the top 10 waterfalls in the stunning island state of Hawaii — and what you need to do to access them.

1. Wailua Falls

Amazing twin Wailua waterfalls on Kauai island, Hawaii

Standing over 80 feet tall and located inside the Wailua River State Park on the island of Kauai, Wailua Falls is easily one of the most iconic and oft-visited waterfalls in the state of Hawaii — and one that’s well worth your time if you’re coming to the island. Its name actually means two waters mingling, which makes sense: not one but two cascades tumble down the stunningly carved rock face, and the reflection often gives way to gorgeous, full-throated rainbows. You might recognize Wailua Falls from its cameo in the opening sequence of “Fantasy Island” — but even if you’ve never heard of them before, you won’t be disappointed. Best of all, the viewpoint to see them requires very, very little hiking: it’s really more of a quick walk, just over a quarter mile altogether, though the way can be damp and slippery, so it’s always good to wear hiking boots and proceed with caution.

Things to do near Wailua Falls: Wailua River State Park has plenty of other hiking and outdoor recreation opportunities, particularly for water lovers. Other gorgeous Hawaiian wildernesses, like Kalepa Mountain Forest Reserve, are right nearby, as are towns like Lihue, Kapa’a, and Wailua itself. Here are some Kauai RVshare rentals to consider.

2. Manawaiopuna Falls

Famous waterfall on Kauai island taken from the air

Another star-studded Kauai waterfall, Manawaiopuna Falls is also known as Jurassic Park Falls, and we bet you can guess the reason why. Standing a breathtaking 400 feet tall, there’s a reason this waterfall was chosen to be featured in the film — which you might be lucky enough to see for yourself, if you’re willing to shell out the dough for a private helicopter tour. That’s right: this waterfall is wholly inaccessible by land or water, and can only be seen from air. That said, some helicopter companies will, reportedly, land nearby so you can get a once-in-a-lifetime view of this outrageous natural wonder.

Things to do near Manawaiopuna Falls: Just north of the towns of Koloa and Waimea, two of the largest population centers on the island (though certainly small towns by any measure), Manawaiopuna Falls is simultaneously remote and not that far from urban resources and to-dos. And if you’re looking for a more accessible (but no less jaw-dropping) Kauai adventure, we recommend Waimea Canyon State park or one of the many forest reserves on the north end of the island. And yes, you can find RVshare rentals all the way out here!

3. Waimea Falls

Beautiful tropical waterfall in Waimea Valley park on Oahu island

Moving on over to the island of Oahu, the 45-foot-high Waimea Falls is tucked a short way inland of the famous North Shore region of this island, accessible via a paved walking path or a shuttle (which gives lots of different explorers the opportunity to see these falls up close and personal). Sometimes also locally referred to as Waihi Falls, the lush greenery surrounding this waterfall is worth a visit on its own — and the pool of water at its foot is calm enough for experienced swimmers to hop in and take a dip.

Things to do near Waimea Falls: This waterfall is located only a few miles from Waimea Bay Beach Park, which is a great place to lay out on the sand or keep your eyes peeled for bottlenose dolphins and turtles. The Pūpūkea-Paumalū Forest Reserve isn’t far afoot, either, giving you plenty of opportunities for luscious, jungle-y hikes and sweeping ocean views. Here are some Oahu RVshare rentals to consider.

4. Lulumahu Falls

Lulumahu falls Honolulu Hawaii

The trail to Lulumahu Falls is “unofficial” — which is to say, unmarked, easy to get lost on, and at least partially on private property. All of which is to say, hike at your own risk — a risk that does include arrest. But plenty of people do take their chances and hike in to see this gorgeous cascade, which is considered by some to be one of the most beautiful in the entire state of Hawaii, and certainly on the island of Oahu. The trail to the falls covers a little less than two miles in distance altogether and sees about a thousand feet in elevation gain, so you’ll definitely break a sweat, and not just because you’re keeping your eyes peeled for police. If you do decide to tackle this trail, be sure to pay extra special attention to Leave No Trace principles, as part of the reason this area is closed is in order to allow the area flora and fauna to flourish and replenish itself.

Things to do near Lulumahu Falls: There are plenty of other legal areas in this part of the island to hike and explore, though some do require a permit, so be sure to check in before you head out. And, of course, it’s all less than an hour from the shining capital city of Honolulu, which offers plenty of excellent RVshare rentals to choose from.

5. Olo’upena Falls

Oloupena Falls
By Jay – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=15700458

Many Hawaii visitors miss out on the small island of Molokai — but if you do decide to make a detour, you’ll be well rewarded. Along with its many other charms, this hidden gem island is home to Oloʻupena Falls, considered by some to be the fourth tallest in the entire world with a total heigh of just shy of 3,000 feet. (It’s about 500 feet taller than the total of Yosemite Falls, if you know that reference point.) Its thin, single stream flows down thousand of feet of mossed-over rock face, making this waterfall truly one of the most stunning you could ever hope to be lucky enough to see. And to be sure, getting there does take luck (and time, and money): because of its remote location surrounded by mountains, this waterfall can only be seen from air or by sea from the north side of the island.

Things to do near Olo’upena Falls: The island of Molokai is mostly given over to wilderness, including the Molokaʻi Forest Reserve, Pelekunu Preserve, and Kalaupapa National Historical Park (which preserves a former leper colony). Of course, getting out to any of these rugged locations takes some serious effort… but it’s well worth your time. (We’ll be honest: you might have a tough time finding RVshare rentals on this island, but it’s worth a try!)

6. Waimoku Falls

Tall Waimoku Falls on Maui island, Hawaii

The island of Maui is sometimes called “The Valley Isle,” and as that moniker suggests, it’s chock-full of lush and beautiful landscapes, including many scenic waterfalls. Waimoku Falls is at the top of our list of must-see Maui cascades, and it is accessed by one of the most beloved Hawaii hiking trails, the Pipiwai Trail, via a short and relatively easy four-mile-altogether, one-thousand-foot-total trek. The falls themselves stand some 400 feet above the turbulent waters below, and offer an incredibly scenic reward for those willing to make the relatively easy hike out to see them. It’s all part of the stunning Haleakalā National Park, which has so much other serene and surreal natural beauty to offer.

Things to do near Waimoku Falls: This part of the island has so much to offer nature lovers, and much of it doesn’t require you to be super athletic or skilled in survivalism. Park rangers will be happy to alert you to more options for day hikes within Haleakalā National Park, and other natural preserves, like Waiʻānapanapa State Park, aren’t far afield. Here are some RVshare rentals to explore on Maui!

7. Waikani Falls

Maui, Hawaii Hana Highway - Three Bears Falls, Upper Waikani Falls. Road to Hana connects Kahului to the town of Hana Over 59 bridges, 620 curves, tropical rainforest.

A whole series of stunning waterfalls conveniently located along the Road to Hana, Waikani Falls is one of the most sought-after destinations on Maui (or anywhere else in Hawaii), and when you visit, you’ll understand why. These tiered falls, which can be easily seen from the highway itself, actually offer several different viewpoints — if you continue on, you’ll make it to Upper Waikani Falls, where you can stop for a while longer to eat a snack or even go for a swim. It’s all surrounded by the lush vegetation typical of this part of the island, and it’s all well worth making time for.

Things to do near Waikani Falls: These falls are tucked at the edge of the vast expanse of Ko’olau Forest Reserve, which has so much to offer outdoor recreation enthusiasts. And, of course, Waiʻānapanapa State Park and Haleakalā National Park are both nearby; renting your very own RVshare rig will make your stay convenient and comfortable.

8. Wai‘ilikahi Falls

Wai‘ilikahi Falls

Active volcanoes with flowing lava, the largest mountain in the world (if measured from its real base on the sea floor) — the Big Island is a land of extremes and extreme beauty. Not the least of that beauty can be found at Wai‘ilikahi Falls, located in the remote northern part of the island in the Pu’u O Umi Natural Area Reserve along the stream of the same name, and accessible only via an intense backwoods backpacking venture (more than 17 miles and almost 6,000 feet of elevation change round trip) or, for those less physically inclined, by air. To be sure, this waterfall is remote and difficult to access, but once you arrive, you’ll enjoy not only the falls themselves but the gorgeous flora that surrounds them and the swimming hole at their feet.

Things to do near Wai‘ilikahi Falls: There are many other hiking opportunities in the Pu’u O Umi Natural Area Reserve, and towns like Hawi and Waikoloa Village are nearby when you want to come back to civilization. Here are some RVshare rentals to consider on the island.

9. Hiilawe Falls

Hiilawe Falls, the biggest and tallest waterfall in the state that feeds the river winding through Waipio Valley in the Hamakua district on the north shore of the big island of Hawai'i, United States.

A well-known waterfall for good reason, Hiilawe Falls plummets over a thousand feet from the rock ledge it tumbles over to the waters below, a unique geological formation carved out by a lava flow from Mauna Kea. Although not the tallest in the state (remember Olo’upena Falls?), it is the tallest single-column waterfall in Hawaii that’s accessible by foot, and there’s not really a hike so much as a short walk along a roadway. That said, you won’t be getting up close and personal; the viewpoint is from the valley and is not close enough for a visitor to get wet. But, as always, you can hire a helicopter pilot to take you closer if you have the time and cash!

Things to do near Hiilawe Falls: The north part of the Big Island has so much beauty to offer — and that’s before you make your way south to one-of-a-kind gems like Hawaiʻi Volcanoes National Park. Here are some RVshare rentals on the island to help you make your stay comfortable — and long enough to see and do it all.

10. Akaka Falls

Hawaii Akaka Falls

By this point in the list, you know there are a lot of incredible waterfalls in the state of Hawaii — but not all of them have their very own state park. Akaka Falls does, and given the majesty of this cascade, it’s not surprising; the falls cascade some 442 feet to the water below, and access to them is relatively easy along a mostly flat 0.5-mile loop. (Of course, any waterfall trail will have some steepness and dampness to watch out for — so keep your eyes on the ground.)

Things to do near Akaka Falls: Akaka Falls State Park offers its own on-site campground, and a well-appointed one at that; full hookups are available, and you can wake up right close by and ready to take on the day in the beautiful Hawaiian wilderness. If you’re looking for a more urban adventure, Hilo isn’t far afield; here are some RVshare rentals on the Big Island so you can enjoy all of these attractions, and more, at your own pace.

Planning an RV Trip to Hawaii

While it’s pretty tough to road trip to Hawaii, renting an RV once you arrive is a great way to enjoy the islands with comfort and convenience — and we’ve got everything you need to make it happen.

For starters, of course, we’ve got the best peer-to-peer rental rigs in the state, as well as guides to Hawaii’s best state parks and campgrounds. We’ve penned a comprehensive guide to Honolulu as well as Hawaii’s national parks, Haleakalā and Hawai’i Volcanoes.

All that’s left to do is book the flight and get out there. Aloha!

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