The Top 10 Best Hawaii Waterfalls

Moa'ula Falls and Hipuapua Falls from the air
It's not easy to put together a Top 10 Best Hawaii Waterfalls List because it's completely subjective and limited to each person's experience with the falls being named. This list is based on our own personal experiences so it's genuine. Besides, we believe we've seen enough waterfalls in the Hawaiian Islands to put together such a list. We tried to balance numerous factors such as accessibility, allure, scenery, and longevity. And with a state that has arguably one of the highest density of waterfalls in the US, we struggled mightily to pick just 10. So without further adieu, here they are in reverse order...

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[Waimea Canyon, Kauai]

10. WAIPOO FALLS [Waimea Canyon, Kauai]
This reportedly 700ft waterfall is decorated by the scenic backdrop of the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, otherwise known as Waimea Canyon. Although this waterfall typically only flows during the Wet Season and it sits on a drier side of Kauai, it's not often that you get to witness a waterfall surrounded by contrasting colors amidst such memorable scenery. Plus, the Kalalau Lookout wasn't much further from both this falls and canyon. Indeed, this waterfall just seemed to be well situated no matter how we looked at it. And it was this rare combination of unusual scenery, location, and size that compelled us to place the falls on this list of our favorites.

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[Hilo, Big Island of Hawaii]

9. RAINBOW FALLS [Hilo, Big Island of Hawaii]
This 80ft postcard waterfall is also one of the easiest ones to visit. We know because every time we've been to the Hilo side of the Big Island, it's practically a compulsory visit. The cove in which the waterfall plunges is surrounded by lush tropical flora so it's a photographer's favorite, but that cove is also rumored to be where King Kamehameha buried his father's bones. Moreover, since it flows on the state's longest river (Wailuku River), it's a rare Hawaiian year-round waterfall and makes our top 10 list.

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[Wailua River State Park, Kauai]

8. WAILUA FALLS [Wailua River State Park, Kauai]
Not to be confused with the Wailua Falls on Maui, this double-barreled waterfall is on the island of Kauai, and is easily one of the most scenic in the state. Perhaps this 80ft waterfall was made famous by its appearance on the opening sequence to the old television show "Fantasy Island", where I keep hearing the words "Airplane! Airplane!" in my head whenever I think of this falls. In any case, don't miss this easily-accessible must-see waterfall if you happen to be visiting the Garden Isle, especially since it's pretty much a drive-to waterfall.

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[Hanapepe Valley, Kauai]

7. MANAWAIOPUNA FALLS [Hanapepe Valley, Kauai]
Jurassic Park fans will certainly recognize this waterfall. With its unusual shape and enormous size, we most certainly had to make room for this impressive falls. We believe that of all the known publicly inaccessible waterfalls on the island of Kauai, this falls certainly makes it hard to turn down a helicopter flight to go see it. In fact, when we first experienced this waterfall, it was only from the air. However, it seems that some helicopter companies have recently been allowed to land at the falls! How cool is that?!? And no, you need not fear dinosaurs to pay a visit!

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[Na Pali Coast, Kauai]

6. HANAKAPIAI FALLS [Na Pali Coast, Kauai]
Even if you're not up for the epic Kalalau Trail backpack along the famous Na Pali Coast of Kauai, you can still dayhike to this towering waterfall in the Hanakapiai Valley (a side valley of the Na Pali Coast). Granted it wasn't an easy hike, but it also didn't require a permit to visit either. Besides, as it's surrounded by fluted cliffs and a lush jungle, this waterfall adds to the scenic allure of arguably the most scenic coastline in all the Hawaiian Islands.

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[Halawa Valley, Molokai]

5. MOAULA FALLS [Halawa Valley, Molokai]
The more accessible of two prominent waterfalls in the legendary Halawa Valley of Molokai, it's a great place for us to have a swim, learn about Hawaiian culture, and appreciate its surroundings. When we viewed it from the air, we saw there were more tiers of this 250ft waterfall (possibly 700ft of total drop) coming into view. A trip to the most Hawaiian of the Hawaiian islands wouldn't be complete without a visit to this gem of Mo'o's domain.

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[Papalaua Valley, Molokai]

4. PAPALAUA FALLS [Papalaua Valley, Molokai]
This remote 1200ft waterfall on the north shore of Molokai is one of the state's tallest. It is often confused with the ephemeral Kahiwa Falls perhaps because of bad information given by helicopter pilots or bad information given by the topographic maps. Whatever the case is the with nomenclature, we counted ourselves among those fortunate to see this waterfall. And I'm sure those who witness this beauty will definitely not forget it, and thus it easily makes our top 10 list of Best Hawaii Waterfalls.

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[Hauula, Oahu]

3. SACRED FALLS [Hauula, Oahu]
This 1100ft waterfall is easily O'ahu's most spectacular waterfall. Unfortunately, its access is closed indefinitely due to a fatal landslide that took place on Mother's Day in 1999. However, it is possible to still see the falls if you're willing to fork out some serious dough to go on a helicopter ride. We were certainly willing to do it so we know how difficult it would be to shell out that kind of money just for this waterfall, but its scenic allure sure makes it very hard to turn down.

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2. AKAKA FALLS [Hamakua Coast, Big Island of Hawaii]

2. AKAKA FALLS [Hamakua Coast, Big Island of Hawaii]
In our minds, this 420ft waterfall is definitely the Big Island's best waterfall and certainly one of the best in the state. Given the fact that it flows year round, it's easily accessible, and it's so reminiscent of the type of waterfalls found in inaccessible gulches and valleys, this waterfall is certainly up there in our top 10 list of Best Hawaii Waterfalls. We also noticed there was another waterfall in the same reserve called Kahuna Falls, which appeared to be just as tall though a bit harder to view. In any case, make sure not to miss these waterfalls!

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[Haleakala National Park, Maui]

1. WAIMOKU FALLS [Haleakala National Park, Maui]
Situated at the end of arguably Hawaii's best hiking trail (The Pipiwai Trail), this 400ft waterfall was our ultimate reward after passing by several waterfalls as well as a bamboo forest along the way. For such a tall waterfall, it's amazing that this one also flows year round and that you can get right up to its base. Indeed, it's a tribute to the fact that it sits in the protected lands of the Kipahulu District of Haleakala National Park for all to enjoy. And don't forget there are more waterfalls and swimming holes further downstream by the turbulent coast in a spot informally dubbed the "Seven Sacred Pools". Add it all up and this waterfall just nudges into the top spot of our list.

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What's YOUR Top 10 List?

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Or do you have a favorite waterfall?

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