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?

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?