Every trip to Hawaii should include a visit to a waterfall. Sometimes getting the best view is as simple as rolling down the car window, while falls that play hard-to-get require lacing up hiking boots or meeting with tour guides. And every so often, a swimsuit is happily required. But however you get there, you’ll want a camera handy when you do. Here, a few spots we love to get you inspired.
Wailua Falls, Kauai
Forty-somethings and old television show buffs may have feelings of déjà vu when they get their first glimpse of Wailua Falls. The star of the opening scenes for the hit show Fantasy Island was filmed here, and catching a view of this gushing Kauai fall can be done easily from the car with no expense.
Twin Falls, Maui
What you see at Twin Falls depends on how far you’re willing to go. The lower falls are a relatively easy walk from the parking lot and onsite fruit stand. The upper falls are a mile-plus hike round-trip — and can come with the added bonus of crossing riverbeds. Do be careful and watch for flash flooding, though; the area averages about 80-100 inches of rain each year. Twin Falls is located about 20 minutes past Paia Town on the Hana Highway. When you see the large dirt parking lot and fruit stand around mile marker #2, you’ve arrived. The entrance is on the left of the farm stand.
Cost: Entrance to Twin Falls is free, but donations are appreciated and you can’t go wrong picking up a snack at the fruit stand.
Pools of Oheo & Waimoku Falls, Maui
Better known as the Seven Sacred Pools, the Pools of Oheo get left off most Hana itineraries because they require even more time behind the wheel. The tiered, waterfall-fed pools are located 15 curvy minutes past Hana in the Kīpahulu District of Haleakalā National Park. The pools are an an easy half-mile hike from the Visitor Center parking lot on the Kuloa Point Trail. The four mile (round-trip) hike on the Pīpīwai Trail winds through a bamboo forest before the spectacular 400-foot Waimoku Falls comes into view.
Cost: $10 for parking.
Kohala Waterfalls, Hawaii Island
If you’re willing to leave the dry-side resort area near Kona behind, waterfalls await in lush North Kohala. Some of the best swimmable falls are on private property, so Hawaii Forest & Trail is your guided ticket to make a splash. Day-long small tours, no larger than 12-14 to a group, cover hiking, swimming, lunch, and sometimes even zip-lining.
Cost: $169 to $249 per person.
Halawa Valley, Molokai
Tourism is almost non-existent on Molokai, which means most folks miss the Halawa Valley when they visit Hawaii. Tsunamis in 1946 and 1957 caused most of the first Polynesians who lived on Molokai to leave the area, but there’s one family that remains living off the land, growing Taro, and still adheres to traditional cultural practices. Even better for visitors, the Solatorios share their history and lead cultural hikes to Mo’oula Falls. The intermediate/advanced hike is less than four miles, but the trail can be rough, muddy, and wet, so good shoes are a must. Wear a bathing suit under your clothes and bring a towel if swimming in a waterfall sounds like your idea of a good time. Tours being at 9 a.m. in Halawa Park, every day but Sunday (unless you have a group of five or more for a specially arranged tour.
Cost: Tours run $60 for adults (and $35 for kids 12 and under). To book, leave a message at 808-542-1855. You’ll get a call back, it just might take a little time — Halawa Valley is remote and phone service can be tricky.