Kolekole Falls, Hawaii

It’s unlikely that you’ll find anybody that is solely trying to find Kolekole Falls.  It’s not particularly tall or wide, or extremely amazing.  Unless you cross the creek, which was flowing very well, you will be viewing the falls from the other side.  So why did I end up at Kolekole Falls?

Well, obviously it was a waterfall.  But the better reason is that it is not that far from the much larger ‘Akaka Falls.  It’s only about a mile further down the main road.  I was impressed with the park.  The waterfall was nice, but it was also very cool to see the bridge far above that crosses this gulch.  And as an even further bonus, you are only a few hundred feet from the ocean.  This particular park was very quiet when we visited, with only one other pair of people.  You’ll likely have most of the beach view to yourself.  It’s really worth it if you’re in the vicinity.

Directions:

  1. From Hilo, head north on HI-19.
  2. After a few miles, you will see a sign for HI-220.  This will lead to ‘Akaka Falls.  Pass HI-220.
  3. Shortly (maybe a mile or so) after passing the turn for HI-220, you will see another sign for Kolekole Beach Park.  The road to the park will be on your left if you’re coming from Hilo. (If you pass this road, you will cross the bridge over the river.)
  4. Turn left, and then proceed cautiously down the very narrow road.
  5. It’s not a very long drive, but at the halfway point, you will turn sharply right.  Slow down before attempting this!  Don’t continue straight/left, as it seems to be an older bridge.
  6. At the parking area, you should see the bridge above, the beach, and the waterfall.  It’s a spectacular combo.

Accessibility: 10/10
Height: 10′
Length of Hike: negligible

Kolekole Falls in March 2013

Where in the World is Kolekole Falls?

‘Akaka Falls, Hawaii

‘Akaka Falls in March 2013

At 442′ tall, ‘Akaka Falls is one of the tallest easy-to-visit waterfalls on the Big Island of Hawaii.  There are a number of taller waterfalls to the north, but they require more effort.

Driving to the falls is a rather simple endeavor, though it is a slight but worthy detour.  Parking at the falls is interesting, to say the least.  You can park near the falls, and there is a $5 fee.  There was an electronic kiosk, and standing near the kiosk was a young man collecting money…In one way, it seemed suspicious.  At the same time, visitors seemed to want to ignore the entrance fee, even with the kiosk and signs!  You can park outside of the main area.  I think there is a $1 per-person entry fee in that case.

The falls are definitely worth visiting, though it can be a little bit difficult to photograph, depending on the angle.  The sun could have caused more problems if it hadn’t been for the lucky clouds that lessened the intensity.

There are a number of other falls nearby.  Kahuna Falls is downstream.  There are one or two smaller falls that most might not notice, but I found them to be pretty enough.

Directions:

  1. From Hilo, head north on HI-19.
  2. After a few miles, turn left onto HI-220.  There is a sign indicating the turn.
  3. Head down HI-220 to what is essentially the end of the road.  You will veer right at one point.  There aren’t many other options.
  4. From the parking area, head to the falls.  The loop trail is paved, but there are some stairs, if I remember correctly.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy, if you head directly the falls without going around the loop)
Height: 442′
Length of Hike: 0.4 miles if you do the loop

A small waterfall along the trail to ‘Akaka Falls

Where in the World is ‘Akaka Falls?

Boulder Creek Falls, Hawaii

Boulder Creek Falls in March 2013

Nearly all of the waterfalls in Hawaii have Hawaiian names…except for Boulder Creek Falls, which sounds like it should be in Colorado instead. Boulder Creek Falls is not a particularly interesting waterfall, but the area surrounding it is absolutely spectacular.

The Hawaii Tropical Botanical Garden (http://www.htbg.com) is definitely worth the entry fee.  In early March, there were a plethora of different flowers in bloom. There is a much more interesting waterfall, Onomea Falls, in the gardens. Boulder Creek Falls is off in a corner, rather literally. As your walking along the pathways, there is a side-path that leads to Boulder Creek Falls. It doesn’t lead directly in front of the falls, and you will have a somewhat far-off view. The falls are maybe 15′ tall or so, but it really is difficult to get a good snapshot.

A few other notes: The first few hundred feet are along a mildly steep boardwalk. It is not particularly problematic though…Also, at certain times of the year, bug spray would definitely be appropriate. In early March, the bugs weren’t any significant problem.

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: 15′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip

Where in the World is Boulder Creek Falls?

Rainbow Falls, Hawaii

Rainbow Falls in 2013

Rainbow Falls is the first waterfall of 2013! The Big Island of Hawaii is a study in contrasts. Part of the island is very dry, and there’s no real use hunting for waterfalls. The eastern part of the island has a number of waterfalls. Some of the waterfalls are not that easy to visit, as part of the gorges and canyons are fairly steep and inaccessible. In other cases, the waterfalls are just off the road, but there aren’t easy places to pull off. On the other hand, a few major waterfalls on the island are extremely easy to visit. Those seven or eight end up being main attractions.

Rainbow Falls is probably one of the most visited, along with ‘Akaka Falls. Within the city limits of Hilo, the drive to the falls is relatively short (if you’re already in Hilo). You may be able to find a tour company that will take you to the falls. Even though Hilo doesn’t have many super-fancy hotels, I would still suggest staying in the city, as there is a significant amount of interesting stuff nearby.

At about 80’ tall, the falls are pretty impressive. The ease of access is really what makes them worthwhile. There is also no cost to visit them, and there are two other waterfalls further upstream. If you have the chance to visit the Big Island, definitely make sure to visit Rainbow Falls.

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. At one point, you will veer somewhat quickly to the right, continuing on Waianuenue Avenue. The parking lot is not difficult to find. The falls are right there!

Accessibility: 10/10 (I believe even handicapped accessible)
Height: 80′
Length of Hike: not applicable

Where in the World is Rainbow Falls?

Falls at ‘Ohe’o Gulch, Hawaii

On the southeast side of Maui in Haleakala National Park, there are a number of impressive waterfalls along Pipiwai Stream. The main attraction is Waimoku Falls (towering at 400′), though that does require a hike. I’m not sure if I would drive along the narrow roads to this portion of the park without visiting Waimoku Falls, but if you don’t wish to hike, the Falls at ‘Ohe’o Gulch are your best option. They are also known as the Seven Sacred Pools.

After parking, instead of heading toward Waimoku Falls, head east along a different trail. After just a very short distance, you’ll arrive at the Falls at ‘Ohe’o Gulch. They are nowhere near as tall, but the scenery is still breathtaking. The intense greens pop out on both sides of the river. The bridge above the one falls is the road that you just drove over a few minutes before. If you head a little south, you’ll also get spectacular views of the ocean.

I should mention many people head to the falls to swim in them. On this specific day in early March, though, the water levels were too high to swim safely. If swimming in the pools is your main goal, I would suggest calling ahead so you’re not disappointed.

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 Seven Sacred Pools/’Ohe’o Gulch.

Accessibility: 9/10 (easy)
Height: ~30′
Length of Hike: 0.4 miles round-trip

The falls at ‘Ohe’o Gulch in March 2012

Where in the World is the Falls at ‘Ohe’o Gulch?

Waimoku Falls, Hawaii

Waimoku Falls in March 2012

Waimoku Falls is definitely worth a stop, if you can get there!  As I mentioned in a previous post about one of the falls far downstream on Pipiwai Stream, it is not a simple drive to get to the southern portion of Haleakala National Park, where you can access Waimoku Falls.

Once you get there, though, and then hike the 2 miles to the falls, you’ll be rewarded with one of the taller waterfalls on Maui.  At a 400′ drop, it is pretty impressive!  The hike to the falls is really not that difficult.  It is uphill most of the way, but the scenery is spectacular, there are a number of other falls along the way, and is not particularly strenuous.  Even though there’s an elevation gain, it’s spread out over the 2 miles.  I have to admit, though, that the falls themselves are deceptive. It’s really hard to grasp their height, especially in the photograph.

Near the main falls, there are a number of other wispier falls.  Since it’s very rainy in the area, you’ll likely see those most of the year.  It wasn’t extremely rainy when I visited, but the mist from the falls kept blurring my glasses and the camera lens.  You could try getting even closer to the falls, but the mist might overwhelm you! 🙂

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.

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/difficult)
Height: 400′
Length of Hike: 3.2 miles round-trip

A waterfall near Waimoku Falls

Where in the World is Waimoku Falls?

Upper Makamaka’ole Falls, Hawaii

Upper Makamaka’ole Falls in March 2012

As I was doing research to determine where waterfalls were found on Maui, I found that most of the easily accessible waterfalls were found in the eastern portion of the island. There were some falls to be found in the extremely rainy western portion of Maui, but it seems a helicopter is required to view many of those falls. One day I’ll shell out the additional money to do that, but I decided against it when I made my visit in March 2012.

As I was sitting in my hotel in Kahului, I started searching for other falls in Western Maui that could be visited without the aid of a helicopter. There were a few, and the most easily accessible seemed to be Upper Makamaka’ole Falls. Lower Makamaka’ole Falls is found along the roadside, apparently, but I also decided against visiting it.

To view Upper Makamaka’ole Falls, start hiking along the Waihe’e Ridge Trail. The first portion of the trail consists of hiking up a pretty steep paved path. That may be enough to wear you out quickly, but keep going.  The hike doesn’t let up, but it’s so worth it. About a 1/4 of a mile along the hike, look to your right. Upper Makamaka’ole Falls will be there. It is pretty far away. The photographs I have were taken at the most extreme zoom with my 55-300mm lens.

Since it’s so far away, you might wonder what is the worth of visiting Makamaka’ole Falls. Well, I have to admit the falls are secondary. If you continue along the Waihe’e Ridge Trail, you’ll be rewarded with some absolutely stunning, spectacular scenery. Amazing views of Kahului are to be had, along with views of the lush, but steep mountains. You’ll also see one or two other falls along the way, though they too are in the distance. It’s 5 miles round trip, but it’s well worth it!

Directions:

  1. I would suggest coming from the west, starting at Kahului and driving along Route 340.
  2. Drive along Route 340, paying attention to the mile markers.  You really want to start paying attention after mile marker 6.
  3. About 0.9 of a mile after mile marker 6, there will be a pretty sharp curve (common on Maui), and right after that, you’ll come to a sign for Mahulia Boy Scout Camp. Carefully turn left onto that road.
  4. The road is pretty narrow, but keep driving down this paved road for 3/4 of a mile to the parking area. It will be relatively obvious, and you may notice the paved path leading uphill.
  5. Park, and start hiking up the Waihe’e Ridge Trail. After about 1/4 mile, look to your right for the falls.

Accessibility: 4/10 (moderate/difficult, steep at first)
Height: 270′
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip to see the falls, 5 miles round-trip on Waihe’e Ridge Trail

Where in the World is Upper Makamaka’ole Falls?

Falls on Pipiwai Stream #1, Hawaii

The hike to the Falls on Pipiwai Stream (and Waimoku Falls further upstream) is not really difficult. It’s getting to the point where you can hike in the first place that poses the real challenge…And it’s an intense one.

Haleakala National Park has a number of distinct regions. The more widely known region encompasses Mount Haleakala and its set of adventures. Though still connected to the park, the portion of the park on the southeastern shore of Maui has a distinctly different feel, and it’s not exactly simple to get to. There are two options, really…one on the Highway to Hana, and the other heading south from Kahului. Most people don’t seem to suggest taking the second option, and the first option on the Highway to Hana is breathtaking (in more ways than one). (Check out my post on Lower Waikamoi Falls to get my feelings about the first portion of the Highway to Hana.)
I stayed in Hana for the night, and then headed south toward the park. The road seems to get narrower…and narrower…and narrower. There were portions of the road where you couldn’t even sense what was in front of you, and you hope that no one else is speeding along these very winding curves. If the first portion of the Highway to Hana scared you, do not proceed! This portion of the road is not nearly as well signed, and the inherent danger level is higher. It’s not impossible though!  (I drove on roads in Puerto Rico where I feared for my life more than here.) And it doesn’t hurt that the drive is spectacularly beautiful.
You’ll be headed toward the parking area for O’heo Gulch and the Pipiwai Trail, which leads to Waimoku Falls at its end. There is an entrance fee, though it is well worth it, and you can visit the whole park for a number of days. The hike starts by crossing the Highway to Hana, and continues uphill, though at a very modest pace. You’ll pass by Makahiku Falls. Continue along to find this falls. If the Pipiwai Stream is flowing, you’ll hear it pretty clearly, and by following the well-worn trails, you’ll likely be able to find the falls here. They are not named, nor are they marked, but by paying attention, you’ll notice a side trail leading downhill. It’s not really dangerous, and the scenery is amazing…Continue along, though…You haven’t arrived at the main attraction yet.
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.
Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Height: 40′
Length of Hike: 1.5 miles round-trip (3 miles to Waimoku Falls)

This is one of the falls on Pipiwai Stream in March 2012

Where in the World is the Falls on Pipiwai Stream?

Hanawi Falls, Hawaii

Hanawi Falls in March 2012

For my perception of the Highway to Hana, check out my post about Lower Waikamoi Falls.

The waterfalls along the Highway to Hana seem to be blurring together, which is what happens when I write about the falls more than two months after visiting them, and it can only get worse. I was trying to remember anything interesting about Hanawi Falls, and nothing was coming to mind. I kept thinking it was also named something else, but that was for a different falls.

After refreshing my mind with the very useful book Maui Revealed, it clicked! This waterfall has two pieces. The photo I chose only shows one piece, though. That’s because the other portion of the falls, the piece to the left, wasn’t extremely interesting at the point I visited. There really wasn’t a significant amount of water flowing, so it was mainly the right portion of the falls that was interesting.

The other thing I do seem to remember is that I feel like I almost missed this falls. There are so many twists and turns, that after a while, you’re not sure whether to stop (or whether you CAN stop). While there is something to be said for having to road to yourself (which apparently happens very early or later in the day), there is also something to be said for seeing a group of cars parked along the “roadside”, and stopping only because you don’t want to miss out! In this case, I was glad I stopped.

Directions:

  1. Start paying attention as the Road to Hana changes to Highway 360.  The mile markers restart.
  2. This falls is found right after mile marker 24.

Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Height: 200′
Length of Hike: roadside

Where in the World is Hanawi Falls?

Lower Waikamoi Falls, Hawaii

Lower Waikamoi Falls in March 2012

I arrived in Maui last night, being completely exhausted.  After going to sleep for a considerable amount of time, I woke up ready to tackle the road to Hana.  The first waterfall I happened to stumble upon was Lower Waikamoi Falls, but let me tell you about my view about the Road to Hana first.

Reading about it online made we wonder whether this was going to be one insane drive.  You can search online and read about all of these people that are apparently too afraid to drive on the road. But from my experience, this was no more difficult, dangerous, or “scary” than any of the other very curvy roads I’ve been on.  It is advertised as being 650 curves or so with NUMEROUS one-way bridges.  And there are a few points where you really can’t see a what’s around the curve. But I did not fear for my life.  I have driven on the less traveled highways of Puerto Rico and been more scared than here.  There I had garbage trucks speeding at me with very little room to maneuver.  At least on the road to Hana, they seem to warn you when that is about to happen.  It is also nowhere near as nerve-wracking as driving over the 12,000′ pass in the Rocky Mountain National Park, with only a foot or two between you and what seemed like a 2000′ foot slide downhill…Let’s just say that if you’re used to any curved roads, you’ll be more than OK.  I live in an area with some of the straightest roads possible, and I was still OK.  Just be careful!

Now there are a number of waterfalls along the Road to Hana.  I skipped Twin Falls, which might be the first falls along Route 360 (The road switches from 36 to 360.).  If I were driving by again, I might stop and visit, since I ended up at Hana around 3 pm with more than enough time to spare.  (I would recommend spending the night in Hana, if you can afford it, so that you don’t have to rush.  I left at 9:30 am, and made it just fine.)  So the first falls I actually stopped at was Lower Waikamoi Falls.

As with many of the falls, you’re essentially just pulling off the road, so be careful.  With Waikamoi Falls, you can see this falls without much difficulty.  There is another waterfall upstream, and for some reason I decided against pursuing it.  From what I’ve read, I believe you have to hike upstream, and I’m usually not for that. Depending on the time of year, photos show the falls with much more volume.  There was still some water flowing, though.

Directions:

  1. Start paying attention as the Road to Hana changes to Highway 360. The mile markers restart.
  2. Right around mile marker 10 (which isn’t always that obvious), you’ll a sign for the Waikamoi Nature Trail.  Very soon after this is Lower Waikamoi Falls.  They are not at the same parking area, though.

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

Where in the World is Waikamoi Falls?