11 Best Waterfall Hikes In Hawaii, USA

waterfall hikes in hawaii

Witness the beauty of nature when you travel to Hawaii, USA. Hawaii is nested on the Pacific Ocean and is a wonderful US state made of islands. It is the perfect destination for nature lovers who are open to adventurous outdoor activities. Aside from the pristine beaches and vast parks, one of the most interesting hidden gems of Hawaii is its serene waterfalls. We have good news for you! We have listed here some hiking trips that will lead you to the beautiful waterfalls. Whether the hike is long or short, it will definitely be worth it. Continue reading to find out the best waterfall hikes in Hawaii, USA.

Travel Advisory

Trip101 recommends assessing the risks before hitting the hiking and trekking trails. Please be especially aware of the difficulty levels, the locations’ ground conditions, as well as the seasonal risks.

1. Waipo'o Falls

Waipo'o Falls, Waimea Canyon, Waimea (502967)
Source: Photo by user Robert Linsdell used under CC BY 2.0

Explore the Kokee Rain Forest and Waimea Canyon which leads you to the beautiful Waipo'o Falls. The waterfall is approximately 800 feet (244 meters) deep and drops into the canyon. The trail is perfect for beginners to intermediate hikers. It is a 2 mile (3.22 kilometers) trail that has different points where you can enjoy spectacular views and scenic routes with the whole family. To reach the falls, the trail leads to Halemanu Road which is 0.75 miles (1.21 kilometers) to the main trail. The latter leads you to Waipo'o Falls.

Waipo'o Falls

Address: Hwy 550 Kokee State Park, Waimea, Kauai, Hawaii 96796

2. Rainbow Falls

rainbow falls
Source: Photo by user ben britten used under CC BY 2.0

The Rainbow Falls is situated 1.5 miles (2.41 kilometers) from Hilo, which is the biggest city in Hawaii. Its original name is Waianuenue, which means rainbow water, but was given the name Rainbow due to its spectacular reflection of rainbows. If you are lucky enough, you might even witness one during your hike. The best time to visit the falls is before 10 am to avoid the crowd. The easiest way to have a great view of the falls is from the viewpoint. To get to the falls, pass by Waianuenue Avenue and head to Rainbow Drive which is a quarter-mile (0.4 kilometer) away. The trail is perfect for beginners since it is only a short trail of 0.2 miles (0.32 kilometers) which has a 40 feet (12.19 meters) change in elevation.

Rainbow Falls

Address: Rainbow Falls Lookout, Rainbow Drive, Hilo, Hawaii 96720

3. Wailua Falls

Source: Photo by user TLPOSCHARSKY used under CC BY 2.0

To reach the beautiful Wailua Falls, it would take courage and skill since it is a challenging and difficult hike. What makes it challenging are the steep paths that can be slippery and muddy mostly during the rainy season. Given the comments about the hike, locals have attached ropes at several points of the trail to help the hikers go down and up in steep areas. Despite the difficulty, the trail distance is 0.32 miles (0.6 kilometers) with an elevation gain of 72.18 feet (22 meters). The destination will definitely be worth the struggle of the hike. Take on this trail and see the stunning Wailua Falls that was also featured in a TV show “Fantasy Island”.

Wailua Falls

Address: Wailua Rd., Kapa'a, Hawai 96746

4. Hanakapi'ai Falls

hanakapiai falls
Source: Photo by user paul bica used under CC BY 2.0

Make sure you do not miss one of the most popular waterfall hikes in Hawaii. It usually requires four to five hours to finish the trail since it is a long one, so it is best to start early. The starting point has toilets, drinking fountains and changing rooms for you to prepare for the trail. You can also park your car in the designated areas. The trail has a distance of 8 miles (12.9 kilometers) and has a high elevation gain. There is no doubt that the trail is popular due to the dramatic views and scenes. Hikers will also come across lots of plunge pools where you can rest but make sure to be careful of rock falls around the area.

Hanakapi'ai Falls

Address: Kuhio Hwy, Hanalei, Hawaii 96746

5. Kohala Falls

Explore the rainforest which leads you to the beautiful Kohala Falls. You will definitely love the hike because of the amazing sights of the nature reserve’s flora and fauna. You can also stop and have an enjoyable picnic lunch together with the whole family. The total hiking distance is 1.5 miles (2.41 kilometers), perfect for beginners. The only challenging part, like any other hike, would be the uneven ground.

Kohala Falls

Address: Kailua-Kona, Hawaii

6. Papalaua Falls

Source: Photo by user S Kaiser used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Witness one of the top waterfalls in the world, Papalaua Falls. Situated in Molokai, the waterfall has a height of 1,250 feet (501 meters). The fall even has a stunning landscape that surrounds it. Every step of the hike, you will see a vibrant green cover of trees and plants. Most tourists can opt for helicopter rides leaving Maui to get a good view of the waterfall. There is no specific trail to get to the falls, but if you are adventurous and an expert in hiking, you can start from Moloka'i Forest Reserve and follow the streams that lead to Papalaua Falls.

Papalaua Falls

Address: Papalaua Falls, East Molokai, Hawaii 96748

7. Waimoku Falls

Waimoku Falls in Haleakala National Park, Maui, Hawaii
Source: Photo by user Christoph Strässler used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Waimoku Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in Maui situated on a vertical cliff. The waterfall has a dropping distance of 400 feet (122 meters). It drops into a shallow pool. You must hike to Waimoku Falls and pass by a massive banyan tree, bridges, streams, and bamboo forest. The trail via Pipiwai Trail starts near Oheo Gulch (Seven Sacred Pools) and has a distance of 1.8 miles (2.9 kilometers) with a total of approximately 4.1 miles (6.4 kilometers) round trip. While hiking to Waimoku Falls you will also pass by Makahiku Falls which is a smaller one. The hike is not too strenuous and will take about two hours or more if you want to explore the forest.

Waimoku Falls

Address: “Road to Hana”, Maui, Hawai 96713

8. Manoa Falls (from USD 129.0)

Manoa Falls, Honolulu, Hawaii
Source: Photo by user Ken Lund used under CC BY-SA 2.0

Go on this easy and amazing hike with the whole family. Manoa Falls Trail is classified as a “walking trail” since it is not as strenuous and it can be enjoyed by anyone and everyone. The trail is also full of banyan trees that will serve as your shade while you take on the trail. Its distance is approximately 1.67 miles (2.7 kilometers) and the hike will take one to two hours’ round trip. The starting point is only 15 minutes from Honolulu, while the end of the trail will reward you with the beautiful 100 feet (30 meters) waterfall.

Waterfall Hike and Nature Walk

Duration: 4 hours

221 reviews

9. Hamama Falls

This underrated waterfall hike can be enjoyed by every member of the family since it is not very rough and easy to follow. You can also bring your dogs with you as long as you keep them leashed. The hike is approximately 4 miles (6.44 kilometers) round trip and it begins at Waihe'e Road where you can also park your car. Once you reach Hamama Falls you can take a dip under the enormous fall or in the swimming hole which is 10 to 15 minutes away from the trail.

Hamama Falls

Address: Kaneohe, Hawaii 96744

10. Uluwehi Falls (from USD 125.0)

Uluwehi Falls
Source: Photo by user Brian used under CC BY 2.0

Visit the famous Secret Falls or Uluwehi Falls in the lush river of Wailua. You have to either kayak or paddle board through Wailua River to reach solid grounds then continue to a 20-minute hike towards the beautiful fall. Remember that kayaking is also difficult, mostly because of the unpredictable weather conditions. The starting point is at Wailua Marina where you can rent kayaks or canoes. Along the trail you will be amazed by the flora and fauna of Kauai and a spectacular view of Mauna Kapu.

Wailua River and Secret Falls Kayak and Hiking Tour on Kauai

Duration: 5 hours

593 reviews

Stunning waterfall hikes in Hawaii

Aside from visiting beaches and parks, one of the best ways to experience the natural beauty of Hawaii is to go on waterfall hikes. Make sure to use this list of best waterfall hikes in Hawaii, USA, as your guide during your visit.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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I am a student-writer from the Philippines. As I write, I get to know more about places I have yet to discover and explore. My goal in the future is to travel the world and make the most of every...Read more

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