Discover The 10 Must-See Waterfalls in Hawaii (With Photos)

Written by Volia Schubiger
Updated: May 28, 2022
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Want to see some of Hawaii’s most beautiful waterfalls? Then go ahead and plan a trip to the Big Island. Although there are waterfalls on all of the Hawaiian islands, none are as easily accessible as the ones on the Big Island. However, there are so many amazing waterfalls that deciding where to begin is tough. Fortunately, we have compiled a list of the top waterfalls in Hawaii that you won’t want to miss!

Take a look at our list of the top 10 waterfalls in Hawaii that won’t disappoint!

1. Hi’ilawe Falls

Hi’ilawe Falls Hawaii

Hi’ilawe Falls is hidden within Waipio Valley and can only be seen from the valley or from the air


Location:Big Island, Hawaii
Nearby Attractions:Waipi’o Valley
Animals to See:Black-billed ‘Apapane, Salmon-billed I‘iwi

The Hi’ilawe Falls are located on Hawaii’s Big Island. To be more specific, you may view Hi’ilawe Falls by traveling to the Waipio Valley on Hawaii’s Kohala Coast. This natural waterfall plunges 1,201 feet into a 1,450-foot-deep gorge. This is one of Hawaii’s highest and most powerful waterfalls; however, it can become a little dry around March. Even so, it is an impressive sight to see.

2. Rainbow Falls

Rainbow Falls Hawaii

Rainbow Falls is a large waterfall in Hawaii on the Wailuku River that is easily accessible from Hilo


Location:Hilo, Hawaii
Nearby Attractions:Wailuku River State Park
Animals to See:Wild Pigs, Monk Seals

Rainbow Falls lies within the Wailuku River State Park near Hilo, Hawaii. It is also known as Wainuenue. There are many waterfalls on the Big Island but this is one of the best-known. This waterfall is named after the rainbows that often bloom at its base. Because of its location, the sun hits the water at precisely the right angle to create these beautiful waterfalls. 

3. ʻAkaka Falls

Akaka Falls Hawaii

ʻAkaka Falls is a 442 ft tall waterfall and a major attraction of the ʻAkaka Falls State Park

© Wei

Location:Honomu, HI 
Nearby Attractions:ʻAkaka Falls State Park
Animals to See:Goby Fish, Frogs

The 442-foot-tall ‘Akaka Falls is located just north of Hilo in the ‘Akaka Falls State Park. You can reach the waterfall after walking 0.4 miles through a gorgeous rainforest filled with wild orchids, bamboo groves, and hanging ferns. You can do the hike as a family and it should only take you about thirty minutes. From the parking lot, you can directly access the trailhead.

4. Peʻepeʻe Falls

Peʻepeʻe Falls Hawaii

Peʻepeʻe Falls are fed by the Wailuku River, which also feeds Rainbow Falls lower downriver


Location:Big Island, Hawaii
Nearby Attractions:Wailuku River State Park
Animals to See:Hawaiian Aquatic Moth, Freshwater Snail

The Peʻepeʻe Falls (pronounced Peh-eh Peh-eh Falls) is about 1.5 miles upstream from the Rainbow Falls, on the Wailuku River at the end of Wailuku Drive. Despite being smaller than Rainbow Falls, this waterfall in Hawaii is far less crowded. While visiting Rainbow Falls, stop by Peʻepeʻe Falls if you have time and want to see another series of waterfalls.

5. Umauma Falls

Umauma falls in Hawaii

Umauma Falls is a stunning three-tiered waterfall located approximately 16 miles (26 km) north of Hilo


Location:Hakalau, HI
Nearby Attractions:The Umauma Falls Experience
Animals to See:Bullfrogs, Guppies

Umauma Falls can be found in Hakalau, namely along the Umauma River. The waterfall consists of three small waterfalls that are close together. The water then cascades down these three waterfalls from the river. All three can be seen from an overlook within a private botanical garden. However, there is a fee for entry into the observation deck. Visitors can also zipline or rappel down the Umauma Falls.

6. Kulaniapia Falls

Kulaniapia Falls

The Inn at Kulaniapia Falls can be found on 22 acres of beautiful, natural land surrounded by Hawaii’s largest private waterfall

©Gary Gilardi/

Location:Hilo, HI
Nearby Attractions:Lyman Museum
Animals to See:Feral Wallaby, Hawaiian Hoary Bat

On the lower slopes of Mauna Kea, on the Waiau Stream in Hilo, is this 120-foot waterfall. Kulaniapia’s waterfalls were previously off-limits to those who weren’t inn guests owing to their location on inn grounds. The inn has now opened the grounds to a limited number of visitors per day. With a day pass, you are allowed to visit the waterfalls, along with their 42-acre property, where you can stroll miles of paths and enjoy views of four waterfalls.

7. Nanue Falls

Location:Hilo, HI
Nearby Attractions:Hamakua Coast
Animals to See:Hawksbill Turtle, Hoary Bats

The Nanue Falls is located on Hawaii’s Hamakua Coast. There’s not much tourism at this waterfall in Hawaii, so you may spend a relaxing day with your friends there. Despite the numerous articles and television broadcasts about it, some consider it still a secret or hidden place on the island. You’ll have to walk two hours to get to Nanue Falls, but the terrain isn’t too difficult.

8. Onomea Falls

Onomea Falls Hawaii

Onomea Falls is a waterfall located in the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, alongside Boulder Creek Falls


Location:Papaikou, HI
Nearby Attractions:Hawai‘i Tropical Bioreserve & Garden
Animals to See:Butterflies, Hawaiian Honeycreeper

Hawaii’s Hamakua Coast is home to Onomea Falls. You can reach it within 30 minutes and it is very accessible. Onomea Falls, however, can only be seen after entering the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden and paying an admission fee. You cannot access it by any other means since it is on private land. Fortunately, you’ll get a chance to see beautiful Hawaiian wildlife and flowers in the botanical garden.

9. Wai’ilikahi Falls

Wai’ilikahi Falls Hawaii

The Muliwai Trail, which begins on the far side of Waipio Valley, leads to Wai’ilikahi Falls in Waimanu Valley


Location:Hawaii County, Hawaii
Nearby Attractions:Keawewai Springs
Animals to See:Nene, Northern Cardinal

It is not easy to get to Wai’ilikahi Falls on the Big Island. It is difficult to complete this hike in one day and, it is not recommended for inexperienced hikers. After reaching the top of the ridge, you’ll need to hike for another eight miles through gorges and across hills to reach Waimanu Valley. Unless you are an experienced hiker looking for adventure, you are better off taking a helicopter trip around the Kohala Coast to view these waterfalls in Hawaii.

10. Kohala Waterfalls 

Waterfall panorama in Hawaii - North Kohala

Kohala Waterfalls Adventure takes you to private waterfalls in Kohala

©Rebecca Raven Wood/

Location:Waikoloa, HI
Nearby Attractions:Kohala Forests
Animals to See:Hawaiian Short-eared Owl, Pacific Golden-Plovers

A well-known tour company on the Big Island, Hawaii Forest & Trail, offers hidden waterfall tours in Northern Kohala. Kohala North is known for its pristine natural beauty, ancient sugar plantation history, and Hawaiian folklore. On the Kohala Waterfalls Adventure trip, you’ll see private waterfalls, picturesque beaches, rough valleys, and quiet streams. This is a well-worth trip to see some of the most beautiful waterfalls in Hawaii.

The photo featured at the top of this post is ©

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About the Author

Volia Schubiger is a freelance copywriter and content editor with a passion and expertise in content creation, branding, and marketing. She has a background in Broadcast Journalism & Political Science from CUNY Brooklyn College. When she's not writing she loves traveling, perusing used book stores, and hanging out with her other half.

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