John Muir, the famed conservationist, once quipped that waterfalls and the nature surrounding them form a piece of the heart of the world. When visiting waterfalls here in Maui—whether gazing upon them from a safe distance or swimming in a pool at their base—it’s easy to understand the love affair espoused by people like Muir. There is a sense of freedom to a tropical waterfall that seems to define an island adventure; kissing beneath a gentle cascade while sharing an island honeymoon, or trekking to a towering, multi-tiered tumbler where your neck cranes towards the sky, can easily become the iconic moment of a trip. Waterfalls in Maui are everywhere—and range from roadside “bridal veils” to hidden, rock-surrounded falls set deep in the rainforest. To add some splash to your land-based adventures, the following are some of the most captivating—and accessible—waterfalls to visit on Maui.
This is a waterfall that’s all about the buildup—although the finale doesn’t disappoint, either. The 400-foot-high waterfall, set above East Maui’s sacred Pools of Ohe‘o, is accessed by the Pipiwai Trail—a two-mile journey (each way) where bamboo groves and banyan trees line the challenging path towards the falls.
It’s fitting for a hidden waterfall to be located on a somewhat hidden road—and this is the last waterfall you’re likely to encounter when driving the “back road” from Hana. After hiking for five minutes on a narrow dirt trail, you’ll encounter this 50-foot cascade spilling into a secluded plunge pool below. The falls are reduced to a trickle in summer, so winter is the best viewing season.
Yes, these falls are popular and can get crowded, but the jungle setting and ease of access make them well worth a visit. The larger falls (there are actually more than two), including scenic “Caveman,” are about a mile hike from the road, but there are numerous different trails and smaller falls where you can sneak away from the crowds. After your visit, buy some fruit from the roadside stand to support the rural community.
Maui’s tallest waterfall is also one of its most exclusive; the only view of this 1,100-foot jaw-dropper is from the cockpit of a hovering helicopter—which can only make the voyage into the remote valley during calm and clear conditions. To beat the clouds (and increase your viewing chances), book an early morning flight on a tour of West Maui and Moloka‘i.
Not everyone searching for waterfalls in Maui has the mobility to embark on a hike. Luckily there are places like Wailua Falls, an 80-foot-high cascade that’s so close to the road it nearly splashes the highway. The falls are popular with guided tours of the famous Road to Hana, and adventurous visitors can follow a short trail to the base of the thundering falls.