Likeke Falls, Hawaii

Likeke Falls in March 2020

I have visited Hawaii a number of times before. I started on Maui, and then the Big Island, and then Kauai. I left Oahu for later because there didn’t seem to be as many interesting and easily accessible waterfalls on the island. So in March, I had a chance to stop on Oahu for a few days, and I tried to identify what might be the easiest waterfall to visit, and Likeke Falls was the choice.

I had read directions online that said the quicker route to get to Likeke Falls started at Ko’olau Golf Club, and should only be a 15 minute hike. After 45 minutes to an hour of searching, I wondered where I had gone wrong, but I knew I had gone wrong somewhere. We were consistently climbing uphill, and I could tell on Google Maps that we were somehow getting further away from the waterfall! We turned around once we realized this, and then took another wrong turn! If you find the correct spot to veer off the main trail, it is indeed a quick hike. So just pay attention to one detail…

At the Golf Club, we parked further away from the clubhouse, and found the trail relatively quickly. We proceeded toward the water tower, which has been painted by many people. Veer left once you reach the water tower. You’ll end up on a stone pathway. Now here’s the important part…after 5 minutes or so on this pathway, you’ll reach a split in the trail, which wasn’t obvious even though I had seen pictures. There is a tree that has carvings in it on your right, and as of March 2020, there was also blue paint with an arrow. (I’ve included the picture of the important tree at the bottom.) You want to veer to the right here. If you continue along the main trail, it turns into a much longer slog. If you veer right, it’s a short uphill climb to Likeke Falls.

The waterfall isn’t necessarily the prettiest of waterfalls, but many of the interesting waterfalls on Oahu are either closed or require longer hikes. If the hike takes you 15 minutes, it’s definitely a worthwhile waterfall to visit, as it definitely gives you a tropic, lush island vibe.

The important tree…take a right when you see this tree!

Directions:

  1. From Kaneohe, head south on HI-83.
  2. Turn right onto Kahiko Street, which will be right before the intersection of HI-83 and Interstate H3.
  3. You will then turn left onto Kahiko Street after 100 feet or so. You will then go under H3.
  4. Continue for just under 1 mile on Kahiko Street, which turns into Kionaole Street.
  5. Turn right to head toward the Ko’olau Golf Club. Park in the southeast corner of the parking lot away from the club.
  6. The trail starts heading uphill, and refer to the notes above to prevent getting discombobulated!

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 30′
Length of Hike: 0.8 miles round-trip

Onomea Falls, Hawaii

Onomea Falls (5)

Onomea Falls in March 2013

I’ve mentioned this in a previous post about Boulder Creek Falls, but if you get the chance to visit the Big Island of Hawaii, do so! And then if you get the chance to visit the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden, you should. It’s a really beautiful place on the east side of the island, so it tends to be a bit quieter.

At the botanical gardens, you’ll find a number of beautiful plants, and even a few interesting animals. And there are two waterfalls there. Boulder Creek Falls is more difficult to see. Onomea Falls is the easier one to capture, even though it does have a few different portions. It’s just more out in the open! Onomea Creek travels through the botanical gardens and empties into the Pacific Ocean. Along the hike, you can see where the creek meets the ocean, and the waves crashing into the rocks are just beautiful!

Directions:

  1. The website for the Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden does a very good job directing you, so the link is provided here: http://www.htbg.com/directions.html
  2. Honestly, just wander around the whole botanical garden, enjoying all of the splendor.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: 120′ (over multiple drops)
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip

Where in the World is Onomea Falls?

Ho’opi’i Falls, Hawaii

Ho'opi'i Falls (26)

Upper Ho’opi’i Falls in July 2015

I’m honestly a bit torn about what to say about Ho’opi’i Falls. It’s a bit confusing about whether you can access the falls or not, though recent searches seem to indicate that many people are still visiting the falls. So why the confusion?

Searches for Ho’opi’i Falls are unclear about whether falls are on private property or owned by the state. (An article about the closure no longer exists…) If anyone definitively knows more, feel free to leave a comment. I know that when I visited in 2015, it was a bit confusing about where to start the hike. I was following a guidebook (that is known to lead people to places they shouldn’t necessarily be), and it mentioned a fence. Well, the start of the hike, was not at the obvious fence, but a less obvious set of metal posts. I think what has happened is that many people were starting at the wrong place and crossing private property. There are some interesting comments if you look around online.

So it seems that as long as you stay on a designated trail, there aren’t any major issues. Follow any signs and closures. If open, you’ll find two separate waterfalls. I’ve decided to post both of them here instead of creating unique entries. The first falls upstream was very busy and a number of locals were jumping off the falls. It made a bit hard to capture the falls without someone in the way. The second falls downstream required a bit of downhill hiking, but was more isolated. (Jumping there would have caused serious injury.) Both drops are scenic in their own ways.

Directions:

  1. I’ll let you find the directions to this one another way just in case there’s an issue. You can see on the map below the general location of the falls.

Accessibility: 8/10 (Easy/Moderate), some sites seem to mention this being difficult…apparently I didn’t think so…
Height: Upper Falls 15′, Lower Falls 30′
Length of Hike: 2.2 miles round-trip

Ho'opi'i Falls (18)

Lower Ho’opi’i Falls

Where in the World is Ho’opi’i Falls?

Queen’s Bath Falls, Hawaii

I was driving along Kauai’s northern shore hoping I might be able to find some waterfalls. One of the books I was using mentions a few different falls, but I honestly couldn’t find any safe way to stop at most of them. I knew that Queen’s Bath Falls existed, and so I decided to search for that instead (since it seemed to be an easier stop than some other falls).

After driving and finding the parking area (which was almost full, even on this moderately rainy day), I set off to to the falls. I found the hike to be very enjoyable. Along the way, you pass by a few other drops along the creek that turns into Queen’s Bath Falls. Once you arrive at the falls, it is really a beautiful view. The falls are headed into the Pacific Ocean, though it doesn’t look like it because there’s a cove of sorts that the water falls into. You get an awesome view of the ocean, the shoreline, and the falls. When I visited, there were a number of turtles in that cove, and it was awesome to watch them.

As you approach the ocean, I would suggest being cautious and careful. I didn’t find it to be particularly dangerous, but I could see how not being careful could lead to some issues. At the right time, it appears you can swim/bathe in the pool that’s formed near the falls. When I was there, the waves would have made that wildly impossible to do, so I didn’t even think twice about it. Be careful!

Directions:

  1. Follow HI-56 north along the shoreline. Enter the town of Princeville.
  2. In the town of Princeville, turn right along Ka Haku Road (if you were headed north).
  3. Drive along Ka Haku Road past some different condo/resort areas.
  4. Turn right onto Punahele Road. This is a road that forms a loop.
  5. Continue along Punahele Road to where it turns into Kapiolani Loop.  You will see a dirt parking area to your left, enough for maybe 8 or 9 cars. You should not be parking in front of any houses/condos.
  6. From there, you should see a trail head at the right side of the parking lot. It’s a pretty easy trail to follow once you’ve found it.

Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Distance of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip
Height: ~15′ per drop (would depend on tides)

Where in the World is Queen’s Bath Falls?: map

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Queen’s Bath Falls in July 2015

Waipo’o Falls, Hawaii

Waipo’o Falls in very early July 2015

I’ve been visiting Kauai for the past few days. It’s the third of the Hawaiian Islands I’ve visited, after Maui and the Big Island. On the other two islands, it seems to be very easy to find waterfalls. Here on Kauai, they exist, but they are a bit more hidden at times. So I have to admit I was a bit surprised when I stumbled upon Waipo’o Falls so easily.

I had been reading a book about Kauai, and knew that I could hike to the top of the Falls along the Canyon Trail. I’ll explain that in another post for Upper Waipo’o Falls because I feel there’s a distinct difference in terms of what you’ll experience on that hike. Part of the trick is that you can’t see Waipo’o Falls along the Canyon Trail leading to the crest of the falls. You can see a smaller waterfall further above.

So it ends up that the Waipo’o Falls you see here can be viewed directly from the main road. No hike is required! It also can be viewed from the lookout where the Canyon Trail starts. The best view are to be had somewhere around mile markers 10 to 12 on highway 550. You’ll be able to see the whole waterfall from a pull-out along the road. From the lookout between mile markers 13 and 14, you’ll be able to see maybe 2/3 of the Falls.

This is one of those waterfalls that’s definitely worth a visit. From what I understand, it’s best between December and early July, and then it tapers off in the later summer months. Even if you end up missing the falls, you’ll still be viewing Waimea Canyon, which is a stunningly beautiful place.

Directions:

  1. From Lihue, head west along HI-50.
  2. Once you reach the town of Waimea, you have two options. In the town of Waimea, you can turn on HI-550 (Waimea Canyon Drive) and drive 10-12 miles along the road to get various views of the falls. The necessary pullouts will be to the right on the road.
  3. You can also drive a few miles further along HI-50 to HI-552, and then head north along that road instead. I’m not really sure if there’s a benefit one way or the other.  I took HI-552 on the way up and HI-550 on the way down. (HI-550 will lead past the small but wildly intriguing Red Dirt Falls, to be discussed in a future post.)

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Distance of Hike: Roadside view
Height: ~800′

Where in the World is Waipo’o Falls?

Lower Pua’a Ka’a Falls, Hawaii

Lower Pua’a Ka’a Falls in March 2012

It just so happens that I just recently posted about Lower Pua’a Ka’a Fall’s brother, Upper Pua’a Ka’a Falls. So I’m going to direct you there to read more about the Hana Highway.

I will mention a few reasons you might want to visit Lower Pua’a Ka’a Falls. First, you’re in Hawaii, and even the smallest waterfall can be scenic and picturesque! Second, this is an extremely easy-to-visit waterfall. Getting to the Upper Falls requires a little more effort, but this can be viewed quickly after parking. (I don’t remember if it can be seen from the road.) Third, while some of the waterfalls along the Hana Highway are highly visible, it is not always easy to stop. In this case it is. This isn’t a very tall waterfall (at about 15-20′ or so), so some might quickly pass it by, but I think it’s still worth a short stop.

Directions:

  1. Start your journey along the Highway to Hana, heading east along the road toward Hana.
  2. Once you’re on the official road, watch the road mile markers. You’ll find the wayside between miles 22 and 23.
  3. I don’t remember which side parking was on, but both falls will be on the south side of the road, so head that direction (you’ll be heading upstream). You should see the lower falls very quickly.

Accessibility: 10/10 (Easy)
Height: ~15′
Length of Hike: Negligible

Where in the World is Lower Pua’a Ka’a Falls?

Upper Pua’a Ka’a Falls, Hawaii

Upper Pua’a Ka’a Falls in March 2012

If you ever have the chance to drive the Highway to Hana, you should. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I didn’t find it to be nearly as terrifying as I had expected it to be. (Continue south past Hana and along the Piilani Highway to experience a higher level of scary driving.) There are many very easy-to-visit waterfalls along the Hana Highway, and two of these falls can be found at the Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside, which you’ll find between mile markers 22 and 23.

The lower falls is very easy to see after crossing the road, while the upper falls requires more effort. I’m having a little difficulty remembering the exact details, though. In the book I was using, it (and other sources) has suggested that you have to cross an elevated waterway to get to the falls, and that it can be scary for people afraid of heights. I do remember crossing over some man-made “object” to get to the falls, but I don’t remember it being particularly scary. (And I’m pretty scared of heights, so if it had been that terrifying, I would have turned around or remembered it much more distinctly.)

So there are a few options…Either I stopped and photographed the falls before actually crossing this scary viaduct, or there was more grating on it than in previous times, so I didn’t feel as nervous. Or there could be been another path? I remember even finding another small waterfall in the vicinity.  While I don’t remember feeling scared, I do remember it being muddy! If you can find your way to the falls, I think it’s definitely worth it. It isn’t extremely tall, but I still felt it was very beautiful, as are most things on Maui!

Directions:

  1. Start your journey along the Highway to Hana, heading east along the road toward Hana.
  2. Once you’re on the official road, watch the road mile markers. You’ll find the wayside between miles 22 and 23.
  3. I don’t remember which side parking was on, but both falls will be on the south side of the road, so head that direction (you’ll be heading upstream). You should see the lower falls very quickly.
  4. Keep continuing, crossing whatever is necessary, until you reach the Upper Falls.

Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 15′
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip

Where in the World is Upper Pua’a Ka’a Falls?

Upper Waikani (Three Bears) Falls, Hawaii

Upper Waikani Falls in March 2012

The Hana Highway is one of those “adventures” on the island of Maui that I found to be less daunting than I had expected. I’ve driven on some narrow roads before, and because there seemed to be a certain level of common sense about speed limits, the Hana Highway was a stunningly beautiful drive without a significant amount of stress. (There were some equally narrow roads in Puerto Rico where speed limits were ignored and garbage trucks were barreling down the road at 45+ mph! I was actually more nervous driving south of Hana and along the Piilani Highway.)

So if you decide to drive the Hana Highway, you’ll find that some stops are very easy. And then there are attractions like Upper Waikani Falls (aka Three Bears Falls). There’s no parking near the falls, the road is narrow (as is expected), and you have to make that quick decision about whether you’re going to stop or not. I must have been very lucky, and knew that it was coming up on my journey. I slowed down, and managed to park off of the road just enough that the rental car wasn’t in any immediate danger. There were four or five other cars there also. I didn’t stay for a long time, nor did I try to get to the base of the falls (which I’m not sure I would try). I did end up capturing another beautifully green waterfall along the Hana Highway.

Directions:

  1. This one’s pretty easy! Drive along HI-360 (the Hana Highway). You’ll find Upper Waikani Falls in between mile markers 19 and 20. Slow down as you approach the falls. (If you cross the bridge over the river, you’ve obviously gone to far, and good luck turning back!)

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy, if you can find parking, though it is “roadside”)
Height: 70′
Length of Hike: Roadside

Where in the World is Upper Waikani Falls?

Pe’epe’e Falls, Hawaii

On the Wailuku River, there are a number of impressive waterfalls. Rainbow Falls is definitely the most popular on the river, and you’ll see many other people there. If you continue driving along the road that runs adjacent to the river, you’ll arrive at two other waterfalls. Wai’ale Falls is easy to view, and is also pretty impressive.

Pe’epe’e Falls is an impressive waterfall, but you can only see it from a distance. There is a designated area for a geological feature known as the Boiling Pots, which I didn’t find to be particularly interesting. And from this viewing area, you can also get a glimpse of Pe’epe’e Falls. Now, there are signs that clearly indicate that you should not go beyond the fence because it’s dangerous. And I decided to heed the warnings on those signs, and I am suggesting that you follow those signs too. I would never want to hear that somebody got hurt while deciding to do something possibly dangerous because a website indicated it might be ok. So you might be able to get a better view, but realize it can start raining at any time, and it can rain intensely, and the river conditions can change dramatically. So while it looks ok now, it might not be 15 minutes from now. Use common sense, people!

Directions:

  1. The main road, Highway 11, “starts” in Hilo (though it encircles most of the island).  At mile marker 0, you begin heading west and then northwest for a ways.  Stay on the main road, which will also be called Mamalahoa Highway.
  2. After just a few miles or less, you will come to the junction of Highway 200 on your left.  Turn left onto Highway 200, also known as Waianuenue Avenue.
  3. Follow the signs to Rainbow Falls.  After stopping there, continue along Waianuenue Avenue. You’ll pass by a hospital along the way, and then enter a residential area.
  4. You’ll come to Pe’epe’e Falls Road, and turn right onto this road. This will lead directly into the parking area to view the Boiling Pots and the falls.

Accessibility: 10/10 (Don’t go over the fence!)
Height: 50′
Length of Hike: negligible

Pe’epe’e Falls in March 2013

Where in the World is Pe’epe’e Falls?

Makahiku Falls, Hawaii

Makahiku Falls in March 2012

On the southeastern side of Maui, there are a significant number of waterfalls, and many of them are found in Haleakala National Park. The main attraction is Waimoku Falls, which is over 400′ tall. The hike to Waimoku Falls is extremely enjoyable, and along the way you encounter other waterfalls. In a separate place, some of them would get their own names, though they don’t here because of their neighbor. One waterfall, though, does have a name, and it is Makahiku Falls.

Makahiku Falls is tall, though not as tall as Waimoku Falls. It is actually much wider than Waimoku Falls. If you’re like me, you’ll be amazed by the falls, and yet be somewhat disappointed. As you might be able to tell in the picture, it is rather difficult to capture the whole of Waimoku Falls. There are a number of trees and shrubs blocking the view. The shape of the cliffs also seem to obscure the base of the falls. If I remember correctly, I tried to find a different vantage point from the trail that led to a better shot, but couldn’t find that spot. So in the end, I settled for most of the falls. If you’ve come this far, though, you shouldn’t be deterred from seeking out Makahiku Falls!

Directions:

  1. From Hana, head south along the Highway to Hana.  Be careful, but there really isn’t any other option!
  2. Pull into the visitor’s center parking lot for Haleakala National Park.  Pay the fee, and then follow the signs to Waimoku Falls. It is about one-quarter of the way to Waimoku Falls, or somewhere in that range.

Accessibility: 7/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Height: 185′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip to Makahiku Falls, 4 miles round-trip to Waimoku Falls

Where in the World is Makahiku Falls?