The eerie clacking sound, like low-pitched wind chimes, stopped us in our tracks.
We were hiking through a bamboo forest to one of the best waterfalls on Maui.
What was that sound? It took a few moments to realize it came from the 100-foot-high bamboo poles banging together in the breeze.
We lingered for a while, marveling at nature’s unique orchestra, before continuing on.
If we thought the waterfall at the end was the real reward, we were wrong. This waterfall hike was proving wonderful in more ways than one!
Best waterfalls on Maui, Hawaii
But one thing you can always count on is finding some of the world’s most amazing waterfalls.
The beauty of the waterfalls on Maui is that planning a waterfall chasing itinerary is quite easy. That’s because most of the island’s waterfalls are found off the iconic Road to Hana.
To help you along, we’ve put together this list of the 15 best waterfalls in Maui, Hawaii.
Slip on some comfortable water sandals or water shoes for hiking – and happy waterfall hunting!
1) Waimoku Falls
A massive banyan tree, an enchanting bamboo forest, an exquisite grove of apple trees and a majestic 400-foot tall waterfall that cascades down a sheer cliff.
How does that sound?
These gorgeous sites await you on the Road to Hana when you stop and do the moderate four-mile (roundtrip) hike along the Pipiwai Trail to the Waimoku Falls.
This is the Maui waterfall hike with the clacking bamboo forest we mentioned earlier.
It should come as no surprise that we consider the Waimoku falls to be possibly the best waterfall in Maui.
And trust us, any sweat you work up to reach the falls is well worth it!
Be sure to have your camera on-hand, because you’re going to find lots of photo opps you don’t want to miss.
2) Twin Falls
If you’re mapping out a Road to Hana waterfalls trip, Twin Falls is the first one you’ll encounter after leaving Kahului (and passing the hamlet of Paia).
And there’s more to these falls than you may expect!
To reach them, you hike through a working farm.
(Wailele Farm allows free access for visitors and provides port-a-potties at the start of the trail.)
Wild hibiscus flowers add pretty pops of color along the trail. The trail is flat, and the first section is an easy walk in the jungle.
Most visitors only go as far as the first set of falls, which have an upper and lower tier (a 10-minute walk).
But there’s actually another special waterfall to discover if you continue on with your hike (a little more than 1-½ miles roundtrip).
You have to open a gate, warning that only experienced hikers should pass through, which causes most people to turn around. But in reality, the part of the trail beyond the gate isn’t difficult.
You will get your feet wet, however, and you have to cross a shallow stream and maneuver around rocks. But the trail is still flat.
Best of all? If you’re hoping to find waterfalls in Maui you can swim in, you’ve hit the jackpot at Twin Falls!
An exquisite swimming hole, complete with a cave-like backdrop and hanging vines, awaits at the end of your hike in front of the second falls – affectionately referred to as “Caveman Falls” by locals.
If there are other people around, just hang out and wait until they leave, and then you’ll have the pool all to yourself for a while.
Sign up! Here’s a great 3-hour “Rainforest and Waterfall Adventure” for families, that takes you to Twin Falls – very highly rated.
3) Waikamoi Falls (Mile 10 Falls)
Many visitors just cruise by the Waikamoi Falls. Pity. Because they’re missing some charming falls!
The first waterfall splashes down into an enticing crystal-clear pool, mere steps away from the road.
But it’s the second larger waterfall that steals the show – as long as you make the extra effort to reach it.
Once there, you can swim around, or simply sit in the pool and let the pristine waters shower down on you.
Not a bad way to spend some leisurely Maui time if you ask us!
Note: You’ll need to scramble up a stream bed to get to the second fall, which is relatively easy when the bed is dry. But you should not attempt this if the water is surging.
4) Punalau Falls
Punalau Falls is another waterfall gem located off the Hana Highway.
It’s usually overlooked, though, because it’s not visible from the road. This makes the falls one of the top hidden waterfalls in Maui.
The walk to this beautiful 100-foot waterfall takes about 15 minutes. There’s no trail and the clamber upstream on the rocks can get slippery, depending on the stream’s water levels.
For kids, it’s one of the best hikes in Maui with waterfalls because it’s such a short distance. (Rethink the hike if it’s been raining recently and the stream is more than a trickle, however.)
It’s wise for everyone in the family to wear non-slip shoes.
Sign up! This guided 5-hour “Waterfall and Rainforest Hike” in Maui is top-rated (with over 65 rave reviews).
5) Honokohau Falls
Who’s ready for a helicopter ride?
Honokohau Falls is the tallest waterfall in Maui – an impressive 1,119-foot chute of pristine water that plummets in two tiers.
The falls are located in a remote inaccessible valley in West Maui – hence the helicopter. The view you get of this beautiful waterfall and its jungle-like surroundings from every angle is really an unforgettable sight.
Don’t miss your chance to admire this Hollywood movie star up close. The Honokohau Falls were featured in Jurassic Park and live up to all the hype!
6) Upper Waikani Falls (Three Bears Waterfalls)
The enchanting beauty of the Upper Waikani Falls will lure you in straight from the road, since they’re visible right from the Hana Highway.
Three large side-by-side waterfalls – also known as the Three Bears – explain the allure of this marvelous attraction. And a vast pool down below is irresistibly inviting.
The tricky part is actually getting down there. The drop-off from the bridge to get down to the trail is a bit intimidating.
Once you’ve mastered that first bit, though, you’re in the clear.
All that’s left is to swim and take some photos of this exceptionally picturesque place!
7) Kopiliula Falls (Kopihula Falls)
Located off the popular Road to Hana, the Kopiliula Falls is a lesser-known secret waterfall on Maui.
It’s only a short one-mile hike to reach these falls.
But you have to clamber over rocks and possibly trek through muddy slippery terrain. If you’re comfortable with this, then the Kopiliula waterfall hike is a must-do.
Once there, enjoy the peace and solitude – perhaps cool off in the clear pool at the base of the falls.
Because it’s not a well-known destination (and because not everyone wants to rock-hop up a stream), you’re likely to have the place all to yourself.
8) Hanawi Falls
To enjoy another dazzling jewel among the Hana Highway waterfalls, don’t miss Hanawi Falls, one of the most photographed waterfalls in Maui.
The Upper Falls is a 30-foot cascade, while the Lower Falls plunge from a height of 200 feet.
We should note that most people miss the Lower Hanawi Falls, because they can only be accessed via a trail in the village of Nahiku – and the trail passes through private land. (Fun fact: Former Beatle George Harrison owned a home in Nahiku.)
The surrounding rainforest and lush vegetation are just as magnificent as the falls themselves.
You get the best view and shots of the Upper Falls from the Hanawi Stream Bridge.
9) Makapipi Falls
Ever had a bird’s eye view of a waterfall?
Of all the many Maui waterfalls along the Hana Highway, Makapipi Falls is the only one where you can stand at the top and look down at the torrent of water tumbling into a gorgeous pool below.
To experience this unique vantage point, park your car at the small pull-out just after the Makapipi Bridge that crosses the Makapipi Stream. Then walk back on the bridge.
10) Pua’a Ka’a Falls
For one of the shortest Maui waterfall hikes where you can take a quick dip in a small pool, Pua’a Ka’a Falls is an easily accessible option.
There are two waterfalls.
The closest one is smaller and gets more crowded due to its proximity to the parking lot. A paved stairway leads right to it.
The second larger waterfall requires a bit more of a walk along a dirt path. It also has a pool for swimming.
About halfway on the Hana drive, the Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside Park makes for a good stop to use the restroom.
With several covered picnic tables, you might want to have a lunch or snack break here too.
11) Makamakaole Falls
If you like the idea of tackling a waterfall hike with many stream crossings, then the Makamakaole Falls is one of the best waterfalls on Maui for such an adventure.
We’re talking about the 13 Crossings Hike.
The rooty trail crosses the Makamakaole Stream 13 times and leads to a fork, with waterfalls and swimming holes at the end of both paths.
Thick green jungle, tall grasses and a bamboo forest all lend the surrounding scenery a magical other-wordly feel.
For more of a calorie-burning adventure – where you see the falls from a distance – hike the five-mile roundtrip Waihe’e Ridge Trail (the trail ascends 1,500 feet).
The Makamakaole Falls are more off-the-beaten track than many of the Hana Road waterfalls but well worth scouting out!
12) Wailua Falls
On your road trip along the Hana Highway, Wailua Falls is one that’s impossible to miss.
As in… It’s so close to the road, you almost feel like you could reach your hand out the window to touch it – that is, if the crowd of onlookers wasn’t in your way!
Unlike many other Road to Hana waterfalls, there’s ample parking space, which helps explain the large number of photo-snapping tourists. However, most of them take their selfies and continue on their way.
For a more personal and private encounter with the 80-foot Wailua Falls, you only need to walk a short way down to the base of the waterfall – then maybe even take a refreshing dip in its lovely pool.
As an added treat, take advantage of the local vendors who set up camp in front of the falls and buy a special Hawaiian souvenir!
13) Makahiku Falls
It doesn’t get much better than a breathtaking 184-foot horsetail waterfall plus an infinity pool.
That’s what you get at the Falls of Makahiku, located in the Oheo Gulch along the Pipiwai Trail – making this another one of the best waterfalls in Maui.
It’s a short ½ mile hike from the trailhead to an overlook of Makahiku Falls.
Under tranquil conditions, you might also want to try to reach the pool at the top that seems to extend into the sky, but actually flows down into the waterfall below.
We’re pretty sure these Hana waterfalls will be among the best you’ve seen.
14) Seven Sacred Pools (Oheo Gulch)
When you hear the sound of water gushing down over rocks, you know you’ve reached Oheo Gulch.
And if you’re looking for the biggest waterfall wading area in Maui, then Oheo Gulch is calling out to you!
The lush stream-cut valley is also called the Seven Sacred Pools. But when water levels are high, there are actually more than seven freshwater pools.
“Oheo” is Hawaiian for “something special.” Various stunning waterfalls simply spill from one pristine pool to the next, creating nature’s picture-perfect tiered swimming pool, where freshwater flows into the ocean.
Surrounded by wine-colored ti and bright ginger, this really is a Garden of Eden along the Kipahulu coastline.
You’re going to fall in love with this idyllic place. It’s the most popular attraction in East Maui.
Note: Heed any warning signs, and be careful if allowed to go in for a dip. Flash flooding makes the pools dangerous, and the pools are often closed for swimming. (We also don’t advise cliff jumping; casualties have occurred here.)
15) Alelele Falls
For a beautiful moderate waterfall hike that’s suitable for all skill levels, the Alelele Falls are perfect.
The trail is only 1-½ miles roundtrip. It takes less than 15 minutes up old Hawaiian terraces to get to the falls.
The falls are 50 feet tall and offer the most serene spot to go for a lazy swim and to just relax. You feel like you can carve out your own little piece of heaven at these under-visited waterfalls in Maui.
The only somewhat problematic part is driving there.
These Hana falls are located past the Seven Sacred Pools, and the road is pretty narrow and bumpy. The Alele Bridge is about as far as you want to drive, because the road here is beginning to go around the back side of Haleakala National Park. Due to the terrain, most car rental contracts don’t allow driving along the back side.
Having a jeep may be an option. (A jeep is a good choice for driving the Hana Highway anyway.)
Alternatively, some Hana waterfall tours take you to these falls.
Paradise isn’t perfect on the island of Maui
So, that’s it, fellow Hawaii adventurers! We told you there’s no shortage of stunning waterfalls to explore on your Maui vacation.
But even paradise isn’t perfect.
You should always keep your head above water when swimming in freshwater streams or pools in Hawaii. This is to protect against a leptospirosis bacterial infection, common in tropical destinations around the globe.
That aside – whether you decide to explore all the recommendations on our list of best waterfalls on Maui, or just a few – we have no doubt you’ll fall in love with these natural wonders and will want to come back soon!
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Photo credits: 8 © Janice and George Mucalov, SandInMySuitcase | 11, 12 Maverick Helicopters