Here's a fact: New York may have Niagara Falls, but as the rainiest state in the U.S., Hawaii wins the prize as having more spectacular waterfalls than anywhere else in the country. There are stunners that span hundreds of feet and can be heard from a distance as they crash into pools below, and others that are well hidden in lush, tropical rainforests and require a hike to reach. Read on for must-see waterfalls on Kauai, Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island.
This 300-foot waterfall is the reward when you reach the end of the fairly challenging two-mile hike from Hanakapiai Beach. The beach and train are located on the island’s stunning Na Pali Coast. Unlike many waterfalls in Hawaii, it has a strong and consistent flow no matter how rainy it has been, and it won’t dry up to a trickle.
Honolulu‘s Manoa Valley is where you’ll find this small but enchanting waterfall. It’s a little more than a mile and a half along the well-maintained Manoa Falls Trail. The half-hour scenic hike isn’t terribly challenging, but bet on soggy and muddy terrain the whole way through the tropical rainforest in the Koolau mountain range. While the waterfall is only 150 feet high, the view from the pool below is spectacular. The best time to see it November through March.
This Big Island beauty falls for 400 feet in Akaka Falls State Park, along the Hamakua Coast (a highly recommended drive), about 30 minutes north of Hilo. The falls are easy to reach — the hike is less than a half-mile from the parking lot — which makes it a smart pick for those with kids in tow. This waterfall consistently flows throughout the year, so you can bet on an Instagrammable shot.
Wailua Falls is easily the most photographed waterfall on the island, as it was featured in the opening credits of the hit ’80s TV series “Fantasy Island.” It’s located near Lihue, and while it can easily be seen from the side of the road, it’s best viewed from the sky, if you’re willing to splurge for a helicopter ride. The double-stream waterfall spans an 80-foot drop, thundering down and crashing into a small pool below.
Located in Haleakala National Park at the end of the well-maintained Pipiwai Trail, Waimoku Falls rivals the height of Akaka Falls on the Big Island. It’s just under a two-mile hike through a Zen-like bamboo forest, and you’ll see other, smaller waterfalls along the way before reaching the main attraction. The trail starts just off the Hana Highway across from a parking lot of the Kipahulu Visitor Center. Unfortunately, easy access means that you’ll probably be sharing the view with others.
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