We can’t count the number of times we have trekked through knee deep mud, hiked into lost hills or driven for hours into the wilderness with the hope of seeing a waterfall. Usually they tend to be underwhelming, like an old man peeing over a rock. The waters murky and freezing.
But the Aloha State seems to throw out waterfalls that belong in fairytales. These are the falls of our dreams – gushing white water pouring over lush hillsides or dramatic mountains. Pools of liquid sapphire waiting at the bottom and wild hibiscus flowers and orchids clinging to the banks, which makes it no wonder why so many people visit Hawaii every year.
Waterfalls seem to be ten a penny in Hawaii. You can trek to them, you can drive to them and, if you really want to soak up the drama – you can take a Hawaiian helicopter tour and hover over the top of them.
For those who want to sniff out the very best thundering falls in Hawaii, we have rounded up la crème de la crème…
Papalaua Falls, Molokai
Every day in Molokai is like a lazy Sunday – here the pace of life is slow, simple and soaked in sheer bliss. This is the birthplace of Hula, the home of the famous Hawaiian hot bread, and one of the only places in the world where, instead of postcards, you can actually post a real life coconut to your friends back home.
We are not really sure how the postman would stuff a coconut through a letterbox, but stranger things have happened in life.
On the north shore of Molokai, you will find the staggering, awe inspiring, (how many adjectives can we stuff in here) and utterly compelling Papalaua falls. The falls are over 1200 feet high and pour down a deep cut chasm in the veiled green gorge.
To truly appreciate the sheer magnitude of Papalaua, the best way to see them is to take a Hawaiian helicopter flight package over the top. Or, if you are feeling truly adventurous and the water isn’t too wild and high, you can take a boat ride across the base.
Akaka Falls, Big Island
While some may prefer to daydream beneath waterfalls, others prefer to use them as a backdrop for high adventures. Akaka Falls ticks both boxes, making her the perfect prize for peaceful nature lovers and thrill seekers alike.
Take a hike along the impressive Hamakua Coast, pushing your way through ferns and wild orchids and following the sound of falling water. Once you make it to the rickety bridge, you can gaze upon the splendor of the falls through a clearing in the trees.
We guarantee that, at this moment, you’ll feel like you accidently stumbled upon a Lord of the Rings set and that Cate Blanchett will come whispering in white through the trees. Let’s just take a moment to celebrate the wonder that is Ms. Blanchett…
Those who want to fly can book a zip line tour across the plummeting falls. This is not for the faint of heart, but great for those who want to soar over a 250 foot drop.
Wailua Falls, Kauai
Postcard perfection paves the way at Wailua Falls. Kauai is one of those places that seems to be plucked from Peter Pans Neverland. It’s all luscious green valleys and blue lagoons, soaring rainforest canopies and scented gardens.
Wailua Falls captures the essence of the garden island and was even featured in the opening credits for that weird 70’s TV show called Fantasy Island. We hear that the show is getting a reboot or remake in the not too distant future. You heard it here first kids.
What seems to sell, when it comes to Wailua Falls, is the fact that you can take as many snaps as you want without having to hike. The perfect combination for those travelers who prefer to spend all day nursing cocktails in a tiki bar rather than running, climbing and hiking around the islands.
Just in case you need a little inspiration for where to get your tiki on…
Also, for those who don’t want to splurge on a Kauai helicopter package, you can simply hop off the highway and stand on a ridge to watch the double stream waterfall plummet into limpid pools below.
Waianuenue Falls, Big Island
Call a rose a rose, by any other name and it would smell as sweet. But, when you call Waianuenue Falls by its nickname, it suddenly grabs a new lease on life. Its other name is Rainbow Falls.
See, you are practically edging off your seat and dying to go forth and find this magical place.
This is one of those Big Island gems, a place where when the light hits it right – forms a prism of color, a rainbow no less, arching across the 80 foot drop.
Throw into the mix the mist against velvet green and the fact that, close by you, you can find the famous pools known as the Boiling Pots and you suddenly have a space that seems to be fed from dreams.
Banyan trees and off the beaten path tracks add to the magic – once you have shaken off the car park and coffee shop, of course. This is another picturesque place that doesn’t involve the need for hiking boots and asthma inhalers.
Sacred Falls, Oahu
Nature is mightier than man. And, sometimes, she likes to swing the axe to remind us of this fact. Sacred Falls is a prime example of her harsh lessons.
Undoubtedly one of the most impressive waterfalls you will ever see – jade green cliffs carved into perfect folds, a sky high waterfall rolling from the rocks and a pool of pure turquoise blue speckled with gold and green.
This was the poster child for Hawaii, once upon a time, until a fateful day when a fatal rock slide killed eight hikers and injured dozens more. Now, the red tape is firmly etched across this spot and she is cut off from the world of tourists.
There is one way to see the hidden beauty of Sacred Falls and that’s with a helicopter tour of Oahu. Those who cannot bear to stay away from Oahu’s tallest falls can take a sixty-minute flight across the lush mountainside and pristine beaches, then skim the top of the towering falls.
We would say – totally worth it.