Maui Waterfalls (Hawaii)
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Maui Waterfalls are one of the most well-known aspects of the "valley isle." Julie and I have also seen the island of Maui (or Mau'i) being referred to as the "magic isle" as well as the romantic island. I guess that would be fitting because the island had a more rural laid back feel than the populous island of Oahu (O'ahu), and I'm sure the waterfalls helped to feed this notion. As you can see from the map above, the island resembles somewhat of an uneven dumbell shape, and that most of the waterfalls are concentrated on the northeast slopes of East Maui (dominated by the Haleakala Volcano, which is famous for sunrises seen above the clouds as well as a thrilling bike ride down its slopes) and West Maui (dominated by an older volcano with advanced erosion to form deep gorges and formations like the 'Iao Needle). The northeast orientation of most of the waterfalls is no accident as this also happens to be the direction that the trade winds tend to blow from. So for the purposes of this website, we'll refer to the cluster of waterfalls on the western side of the island as Windward West Maui
. Then, we'll split up East Maui into Windward East Maui
(mostly along the Hana Highway) and Windward Southeast Maui
(going further south of Hana, including 'Ohe'o Gulch and the Pipiwai Trail - both part of the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park).
Not surprisingly, given its size, Julie and I saw most of Maui's Waterfalls in East Maui along the famed Hana Highway
, which was a very twisty and narrow stretch of road leading up to the sleepy Hana Town on the far eastern side of the island. Many of the waterfalls along the Hana Highway were either short scrambles or walks from the main road. Among some of the more noteworthy waterfalls in East Maui were Upper Waikani Falls
(sometimes called the "Three Bears") and Lower Puohokamoa Falls
(one of the tallest waterfalls in East Maui) among others.
However, Julie and I felt that the best waterfalls on the island were beyond Hana in Southeast Maui. Among the noteworthy waterfalls in this stretch were the towering Waimoku Falls
as well as the inviting 'Ohe'o Gulch
(sometimes known as the "Seven Sacred Pools" though swimming here would only be possible when the weather cooperates). Beyond the 'Ohe'o Gulch, the road becomes unpaved until it becomes the Pi'ilani Highway, but along the way, we managed to encounter the Pokowai Sea Arch and Alelele Falls
Julie and I have driven the Hana Highway many times, but we realize that it's not for everyone
If you choose not to drive the Hana Highway, it's possible to still experience these waterfalls and other attractions through a guided tour. A tour company that we recommend is Valley Isle Excursions
, which is highly rated on TripAdvisor.
Finally, even though West Maui was where most of the resorts seemed to be, its windward side felt surprisingly off-the-beaten-track. Perhaps this was largely due to the fact that most of the waterfalls on this side of the island were either inaccessible or required some work to see. There was also a pretty scary single-lane road with cliff exposure on its northern side. That said, we managed to see by helicopter what was said to be the tallest waterfall in Maui in Honokohau Falls
. By the way, we've been told that this falls had made a cameo appearance on one of the Jurassic Park movies. In any case, other surprises await in this side of the island.
With such a large collection of waterfalls that are reasonably within reach, it shouldn't be surprising that a few of them on this island have managed to crack our Top 10 List of Hawaii's best waterfalls
. In addition to our favorites, there are still many more to be experienced. Find out which ones you'd like to visit or learn more about by browsing through the waterfalls below...
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To get a glimpse of what each waterfall looks like, check out the table below. Click on the waterfalls to read more about them.
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