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.
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.
To provide you with a little context, we generally stay in West Maui in either Lahaina or Ka’anapali. The most straightforward drive from say Lahaina to the aforementioned 8-mile post would be to drive south on Hwy 30 all the way around towards Wailuku. North of Wailuku, we’d then continue driving on Hwy 340 eventually getting us to the falls past the turnoff for the Waihe’e Ridge Trail. Overall, this drive would take us about an hour (29 miles) without traffic.
Going in the other direction, we’d go north on Hwy 30 past Ka’anapali and Kapalua towards the Kahekili Hwy (Hwy 340), which actually gets really twisty and narrow (single-lane) with cliff exposure once we get closer to the Kahakuloa town. This drive is said to take about 90 minutes even though it’s only 31 miles in distance.
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