While traveling the Road to Hana, the lush beauty of the island wilderness promises to keep you enamored mile after mile. More often than not, you’ll find a good reason to stop and admire the scenery up close, including the stunning Hanawi Falls. Although it might not look like much at first glance, this series of waterfalls showcases the Earth’s ability to care for itself. The water cuts through the rocks just right to sustain the plants and wildlife in its midst.
You can get a glimpse of the waterfall from your car, but it’s best to park for a longer look at the gorgeous landscape. The area lacks dedicated parking spaces, of course, so you’ll need to find a spot along the road. Look near the graffiti-covered shack next to the bridge for openings. Once you park, carefully walk up to the bridge for a good look at the falls. There are no walkways or even a shoulder to speak of, so be mindful of the vehicles driving by.
Although you can climb down and swim in the falls, it’s not advised. There’s always the danger of falling rocks and flashfloods that could put your life at risk. You’ll still see people taking the risk, however, just to have a chance to splash in the crystal-clear water. In fact, there’s even a rope set up to make it a bit easier to traverse the steep trail down to the falls. Even while staying put on the bridge, you can get a good enough view to fully appreciate the natural landscape.
As you look at the scenery from the bridge, you can actually only see the Upper Hanawi Falls. This waterfall features a rather modest 30-foot cascade that flows down the cliffs into the pool below. The size of the falls fluctuates with the weather, becoming much bigger after periods of heavy rainfall. All around the pool, you can see magnificent hala and rubber trees plus rich green shrubs of all kinds. During the spring and early summer, the ohia tree sets its bright red and white blooms, lighting up the rainforest alongside the burgundy wild ginger flowers.
Without explicit consent from the private landowners nearby, you can only view the upper falls on your trip. To get to the lower falls, you must travel down a trail from the town of Nahiku. The trail cuts through land leased by the East Maui Irrigation Company, which does not offer hiking permits. So, it’s pretty much impossible for tourists to get there without trespassing on private land – a big no-no while visiting Maui.
If you could get a glimpse of the lower falls, you’d find a truly impressive 200-foot cascade of water majestically landing in its glimmering pool. To see what that would look like, you can travel south on Hana Highway to reach Makahiku Falls. The trip requires a 1.5-mile roundtrip hike down an unpaved trail, but it’s well worth the extra effort.
-Skip the stop during periods of scarce rainfall. Although the waterfalls don’t dry up completely, the flow slows down quite a bit at times.
-While crossing the bridge in your car, slow way down so you can yield to oncoming traffic. Even without people standing on the side, it’s effectively one lane across, so wait patiently for your turn.
-Guavas often fall off the nearby trees and roll toward the cars. They’re perfectly fine to eat and up for grabs.
-As with all natural landscapes, act as a good steward of the land by packing out whatever you pack in plus any extra trash you find.