There’s a reason why people visit Hawaii from all over the world. Not only is there amazing activities and attractions, but there are also stunning natural wonders. Keep scrolling to find out the prettiest Hawaii waterfalls you’ll definitely want to check out!
This post on the best Hawaii waterfalls contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
I remember my first trip to Hawaii. I was 10 years old and my family was visiting my grandma on Kauai. She took us to Wailua Falls and I was in awe of how many gallons of water were cascading down the mountain.
That trip, we saw so many of Kauai’s gorgeous waterfalls and those first impressions have always stayed with me.
Each island is packed with majestic waterfalls in Hawaii and they are always worth a look. Whether you want to pull over from the highway to see a waterfall from a scenic lookout or want to go hiking to see a secret Hawaii waterfalls, the possibilities are endless!
I’ve asked some of my travel blogger friends to share their top picks for pretty Hawaii waterfalls that everyone should add to their Hawaii itinerary!
Let’s dive in!
Want to skip all the planning and just access my detailed Hawaii Itineraries complete with daily schedules, kid-friendly activities, and travel hacks? Click the button below.
Hawaiian Waterfalls FAQs
Hawaii has more than 100 waterfalls throughout the islands. Some are famous and are easy to get to while others are hidden away and only accessible by hiking or taking a helicopter ride.
Located on Molokai, Olo’upena Falls is Hawaii’s tallest waterfall. It plummets almost 3,000 feet and it’s seriously stunning.
Sometimes. Many waterfalls are totally safe to swim in the base, but it’s illegal to swim at some waterfalls in Hawaii. It’s important to check before you go or keep a lookout for signs.
List of Waterfalls on the Big Island by Region
Here is a list of some of the best waterfalls found on the Big Island. Although it is open to the public, the Big Island (a.k.a. Hawaii Island) may require you to pay at certain places to be granted access. There are some waterfalls in the Hilo and the Hamakua areas.
The Hilo Waterfalls is a group of great waterfalls consisting of Rainbow Falls, Boiling Pots, and Six Tons. These waterfalls are the best waterfalls for sightseeing, picnicking, swimming, and scenic drive.
The Hamakua Waterfalls are a group of gorgeous falls including the Akaka Falls and Hi’ilawe Falls. These waterfalls include short and long hikes to reach the destination. The Hamakua Waterfalls are highly recommended for tours, swimming, and sightseeing.
Hilo area is known for its iconic waterfall, the Rainbow Falls. The falls have some legendary myth behind them as well.
On the left of the falls lookout there is a pathway that leads you to an observation point right above the falls (however this is currently closed as of December 2021).
If you are looking for a swimming hole, there are small pools where you can see people enjoying their time, as well as another smaller waterfall. Other waterfalls in the Hilo area are Boiling Pots and LK Falls, both good lookouts for sightseeing!
North of Hilo
At the North of Hilo, you can find three beautiful waterfalls! 6 Tons is best known for the swimming and scenic drive in the area.
Another waterfall good for a scenic view is Akaka Falls, with little shops leading to the falls. It is the tallest waterfall that is located on the Big Island. It is open to the public as well.
The third fall is the Umauma Falls, the only triple-tier waterfall on the Big Island. There is a fee to enter, so it is a paid entrance. If you like an adrenaline rush, you must visit the zip-line tour.
Top 7 Best Hawaii Waterfalls to Visit
Prettiest Hawaii Waterfalls on Oahu
If you are looking for a hike to add to your Oahu itinerary that lets you walk directly to the base of a waterfall, Lulumahu Falls is one of the best and most memorable hikes on the island.
The trailhead is right off the Pali Highway, although it can be hard to find because it is unmarked.
The beginning of the hike is fairly easy and takes you through a beautiful bamboo forest. It becomes moderately more challenging the deeper into the jungle you get. You will want to wear a good pair of hiking shoes and plan to get muddy.
The hike to the waterfall takes roughly 2 hours and zig zags back and forth across the Lulumahu Stream.
As with the trailhead, the trail itself is not well marked, making it easy to get lost along the way. Make sure to download a trail map app on your phone to keep you on the right path.
Getting lost can be part of the adventure though, as there are multiple paths to follow to the waterfall, all created by other hikers who went off the original trail, as well.
Like most jungle hikes, mosquitoes can be an issue while hiking to Lulumahu Falls, so you’ll want to spray yourself down with bug spray before beginning your hike.
The hike can be exhausting because you’ll have to scramble over boulders or downed trees and hop across rocks in the river, but standing beneath the 50 foot waterfall at the end is well worth the challenge!
Melissa Smuzynski of Parenthood and Passports
Waimea Valley is a gorgeous park and botanical garden on Oahu’s North Shore that is home to Waimea Falls, one of the prettiest waterfalls in Hawaii.
Waimea Falls can be reached by taking a leisurely, one mile hike through the Waimea Valley Park. The gorgeous views along this walk makes the Waimea Valley Trail one of the best hikes in Oahu.
Along the way, you can admire the beautiful flora and fauna before arriving at the park’s centerpiece: the waterfall.
One of the best parts about visiting Waimea Falls is that you can take a refreshing swim in the pool surrounding the fall!
Life jackets are required to swim (they’re included with your ticket to the park) and water shoes are highly recommended as the pathway to enter the pool is rocky and slippery.
Make sure to bring a towel along if you plan on swimming! Check out this full guide to visiting Waimea Valley.
Admission to Waimea Valley is just $12 for adults (note: the park is currently offering a discounted rate of $8 for adults).
If you’d prefer not to go on the hike, no worries – you can still visit the falls! There is a shuttle bus option for just $14 round-trip – you can also buy one-way tickets.
The park is also home to other attractions including a North Shore luau, which can be visited for an extra cost.
Sydney Richardson of A World in Reach
Love to hike? Check out these amazing Oahu waterfall hikes!
Prettiest Hawaii Waterfalls on Kauai
There are plenty of awesome outdoor activities and attractions in Kauai– Hawaii’s “Nature Island”– to keep adventure lovers busy for weeks.
But we would definitely rank visiting Wailua Falls among the best things to do in Kauai, even if you’ve never seen the show that made them famous!
Located near the town of Lihue and the Smith Plantation (whose nightly luau is another one of our favorite tourist attractions in Kauai), Wailua Falls were prominently featured in the opening credits of the hit TV series Fantasy Island in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
To get there, simply head north from Lihue and follow Maalo Road in Hanamaulu uphill for about 3 miles. Note that the small parking lot for the viewing area can get very crowded at midday, so get there early if you want to avoid the crowds.
Morning is also the best time for photographing the waterfall: When the rising sun hits the water just right, you can often see a stunning rainbow emanating from the mist.
It’s especially beautiful when it has rained up in the mountains of Kauai, and the dual streaming rapids rush over the 80-foot drop to the shimmering pool below.
While people used to hike at Wailua Falls, it’s now illegal and dangerous. Please don’t attempt it.
Instead, get to the viewing area early, bring a tripod to get good shots of the waterfall, and perhaps bring a picnic to spend an hour or two savoring the spectacular sights.
Bret Love & Mary Gabbett of Green Global Travel
Uluwehi Falls in Kauai are otherwise known as the “secret falls” and are found deep in the rainforest of the Wailua River area of Kauai.
Getting to Uluwehi Falls is an adventure in itself with the only way there being by kayak and hiking.
The area is part of sacred lands in Kauai so it is recommended to join one of the Wailua River kayaking tours who will provide you all the kayaking gear and an interesting tour as part of the experience.
A guide is also handy to understand the weather and current conditions as the river on the return paddle can be quite challenging on some days.
The journey starts with a gentle and scenic paddle for approximately 45 minutes to take you from the mouth of the Wailua River to the start of a hidden walking trail.
The hiking trail is relatively flat and easy but can be quite slippery so make sure you are wearing sturdy footwear.
You will snake your way along the river bank and then cross at one point holding onto a rope guide to get through the soft rapids – all part of the fun!
After a 20-minute hike where an experienced guide will be able to show you the historic ruins of past civilizations along the way you reach Uluwehi Falls.
Uluwehi is a gorgeous high falling waterfall plummeting into a perfect swimming hole. This is a fun, kid-friendly Kauai adventure!
It’s a great spot to take a dip and feel the spray of the falls plummeting down on you before you make your return journey home.
For this fantastic half day adventure all you need to pack are some swimmers, sunscreen, snacks and some sturdy walking shoes.
Karen Buffier from Big Adventures for Little Feet
Find out all the best waterfalls on Kauai!
Prettiest Hawaii Waterfalls on Maui
Hawaii is known for its waterfalls but one of the prettiest waterfalls can be found on the island of Maui inside the Kipahulu entrance of Haleakala National Park.
The Kipahulu District is a remote area in East Maui and getting there is half the adventure. There is only one road that takes you to this entrance of the Park and that is the scenic road to Hana.
Inside Haleakala National Park is the Pipiwai Trail, one of Maui’s best hikes. The moderate 4 mile out and back trail takes you past ancient banyan trees, through a majestic bamboo forest and ends at the iconic Waimoku Falls.
Waimoku Falls is a 400 foot waterfall that you see pictured on the cover of many of Maui’s guidebooks and is one of the tallest waterfalls on Maui. This isn’t one that you can swim under though.
The enormous waterfall cascades down a steep lava rock wall into a boulder-strewn pool. Exercise caution when approaching the falls, even a pebble falling could seriously injure someone.
Make sure you wear proper footwear. The first mile of trail to the falls is a rooty, dirt path and if it has rained recently it has the potential to get muddy.
The walk through the bamboo forest is arguably more magical than the falls itself, making 4 mile journey more the worth it.
Jess of I’m Jess Traveling
Check out all the best Maui waterfalls you need to visit!
Prettiest Hawaii Waterfalls on the Big Island
Located at the end of Akaka Falls Road (Highway 220), this lush section of rainforest includes one of the most recognizable waterfalls in all of Hawaii, Akaka Falls.
The magnificent 422-foot-tall falls can be viewed from several points along the .4-mile loop trail. The short hike is suitable for most family members.
However, there are several sets of stairs, so those with mobility issues or parents with strollers may have difficulty completing the entire loop.
For more information about navigating Akaka Falls and other accessible Big Island activities check out Sickgirltravels.com.
The loop takes about thirty minutes to complete. To avoid the stairs completely, make a left at the entrance which will leave you immediately in front of the best view of the falls.
Keep in mind, while the trail is paved, the frequent rain and mist can leave the ground quite slippery. Make sure to wear appropriate footwear.
While the views inside the park are gorgeous, one of the most interesting things about Akaka Falls may be something you can’t see.
The less than three-inch-long goby fish (o’opu alamao’o) which make their way from their home in the Pacific to spawn in the stream above Akaka Falls.
These fish are able to use a sucker on their underside to climb the rocks behind the falls and make it to the top. Their eggs are then washed back out to the ocean to hatch.
So, as you stare out at these majestic falls, just remember the thousands of tiny rock-climbing fish ascending the cliff beneath.
Admission is $5 per car or $1 per person for walk-ins. Entrance is free to Hawaiian residents. The parking area is open from 8:30 am to 6 pm.
Jenn Lloyd of Sick Girl Travels
One of the most popular attractions to visit on the Big Island is located right in Hilo at Rainbow Falls. An easy to get to waterfall with a very short walk to the observation viewpoints.
Rainbow Falls is striking and yes you can actually see rainbows in the watersprays around the base of the waters below.
The falls are quite active and spectacular on rainy days when all the waters around the mountain areas flow down the various streams and rivers into Hilo and down into Rainbow falls.
A fun short walk to do just to the left of the falls are paved steps that you can climb to the top of the falls and view the fabulous areas below.
If you follow the trail further, you’ll get into a forested area with one of the largest banyan trees located right in the middle of this forest area which feels surreal and otherworldly. Rainbow Falls is quite spectacular and an easy to get to attraction just in Hilo.
If you are visiting the rest of the island, check out my post on a family friendly visit to the Big Island here for more inspiration of fun places around the island to explore and enjoy when you visit.
Noel Morata of This Hawaii Life
See all the amazing Big Island waterfalls worth checking out!