The Hawaiian Islands are home to some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. Known for their lush tropical rainforests and frequent rainfall, the islands provide the perfect environment for tall, powerful waterfalls. But with six major islands to choose from, deciding which one offers the best waterfall viewing can be tricky. Here's a breakdown of the top Hawaiian islands for waterfall lovers.
The most populated Hawaiian island, Oahu is home to the famous Waimea Falls. Located on the North Shore, this impressive waterfall plunges more than 80 feet into a serene pool. Waimea Valley also contains several smaller waterfalls spread throughout the botanical garden. Another noteworthy Oahu waterfall is Manoa Falls, tucked away in a Bamboo forest near Honolulu. While it's only 150 feet tall, its picturesque setting and easy hiking trail make it popular with tourists. Overall, Oahu offers a nice selection of waterfalls that are conveniently located near main attractions.
Known as the "Garden Isle," Kauai boasts some of Hawaii's most abundant and stunning waterfalls. The island receives more rainfall than the other islands, fueling hundreds of waterfalls. The most famous is Waimea Canyon on the West side, considered the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific." Several waterfalls plunge over its deep red cliffs. Another must-see is Wailua Falls, featured in the opening credits of Fantasy Island. Easily accessible by road, this double-tiered waterfall drops an impressive 80 feet into a large pool. Some of Kauai's other remarkable waterfalls include Opaeka'a Falls, Wailua River's Secret Falls, and Hanakapi'ai Falls. With so many options, Kauai is hands-down the best Hawaiian island for waterfall chasing.
Maui has its fair share of spectacular waterfalls as Hawaii's second largest island. The Road to Hana, one of Hawaii's most popular scenic drives, provides access to some of Maui's best waterfalls. The drive features numerous roadside waterfalls, like Twin Falls and the Three Bears Falls. The Pi'ilanihale Heiau waterfall is also found along this route, cascading down from a historic temple. But the most impressive is Waimoku Falls, the grand finale of the Pipiwai Trail in Haleakala National Park. This towering 400-foot waterfall flows down a rocky lava face into a serene pool surrounded by lush jungle. Other notable waterfalls on Maui include Nakalele Blowhole and Seven Sacred Pools near Hana.
The Big Island
Hawaii Island, also called the Big Island, has the tallest waterfalls in the state. Located on the Northeast side, Akaka Falls is a stunning 442-foot waterfall accessible via a short loop trail. Nearby, the Kulaniapia Falls cascade side by side down a 120-foot volcanic cliff. On the island's opposite side, Waipio Valley contains numerous waterfalls, like Hiilawe Falls tumbling 1,300 feet from the valley overlook. Reaching the valley floor requires a steep hike or 4x4 vehicle. The Big Island is also home to Hawaii's longest waterfall, the 600-foot Rainbow Falls in Hilo. While you'll need to work harder to access waterfalls on Hawaii Island, they offer great rewards for adventurous travelers.
In summary, Kauai stands out as the overall best Hawaiian island for waterfall enthusiasts. Its lush terrain and abundant rainfall provide the highest concentration of towering, picturesque falls. Maui and the Big Island also offer stunning waterfall hikes set amongst tropical rainforests. Oahu provides the added convenience of waterfalls near main tourist spots. And remote Molokai gives a more secluded experience chasing waterfalls along high sea cliffs. No matter which island you choose, Hawaii's exceptional natural beauty guarantees you'll find gorgeous waterfalls to discover. The hardest part is deciding which ones to visit amongst the hundreds that exist across the enchanting Hawaiian Islands.