Lower Makamakaole Falls (Lower Makamaka'ole Falls)

Waihee Ridge (Maui Island), Hawaii, USA

Rating: 1.5     Difficulty: 2.5
Lower Makamakaole Falls
Lower Makamakaole Falls (or Lower Makamaka'ole Falls) is a rare waterfall in West Maui that we didn't need a helicopter to see.

I tend to think of this as one of the more obscure waterfalls because in order to find this one, we really had to focus on finding it. Otherwise, it was real easy to skip on past it without even knowing it was below us as we were driving the winding and pretty adventurous roads of West Maui.

In fact, I recalled on our first visit here back in 2003, we made an attempt to see this waterfall after having driven clockwise around West Maui starting from Lahaina. We had to negotiate some seriously narrow and unpaved single-lane roads (Kahekili Hwy or Hwy 340), which hugged cliffs with some severe exposure to drop offs (very scary). Eventually, when the hardest part of the drive was over, the roads widened up again, and we chanced upon a waterfall that we thought was Lower Makamakaole Falls. Unfortunately, it turned out that we didn't see the actual one but a smaller cascade just upstream from the one we were supposed to see.

So it wasn't until we came back nearly four years later did we finally have a chance to try and see the correct waterfall. This time, we went the other way (from Kahului to avoid that single-lane road), and the result is the photograph you see at the top of this page. This main tier is said to tumble some 60ft.

We had noticed there were some obscure and unmarked use trails that seemed to get close to this waterfall. Since we didn't explore these paths, we can't say anything more so we can't vouch for whether they do indeed bring you closer to the falls.

I've read that the word makamaka’ole means "without friends," and this could be in reference to days past when troublemakers were banished here. I don't have any more background on the circumstances behind why this spot was chosen for banishment and when this occurred.

Directions: The best view of Lower Makamaka’ole Falls is from the roadside pullout next to the power pole immediately north of the 8-mile post. Brush obstructs the view of Lower Makamaka’ole Falls from other points along the road, though you may be able to see smaller cascades upstream from the main falls from other nearby pullouts.

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The day we first visited Lower Makamakaole Falls was part of a day where we drove around West Maui, which included a stop at the Nakalele Blowhole
While driving around West Maui, I recalled we were also looking for the Olivine Pools, though I wasn't sure if was the general area where we would've found it
The narrow single-lane road near Kahekili in West MauiThe narrow single-lane road near Kahekili in West Maui. This was taken when we tried to drive around West Maui during our trip here in 2003. I'm not sure if the road conditions have gotten better or worse since then.

Looking back towards the village of KahekiliLooking back towards the village of Kahekili. Notice the lines above the town along the cliffs. That is the Kahekili "Highway"

Power pole and cross at the correct pulloutPower pole and cross at the correct pullout.

In 2003, we had mistakenly thought this small waterfall was the Lower Makamaka'ole Falls.  Keep walking further downhill to see the desired waterfallIn 2003, we had mistakenly thought this small waterfall was the Lower Makamaka'ole Falls. Keep walking further downhill to see the desired waterfall.

Contextual view of the Lower Makamakaole Falls.  Notice the road cutting way above the fallsContextual view of the falls. Notice the road cutting way above the falls.

The cross and the narrow Kahekili HwyThe cross and the narrow Kahekili Hwy

Wooden poles at the top of the scramble down to the top of the fallsWooden poles at the top of the scramble down to the top of the falls (I didn't do this though)

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For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.

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