Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls - 80 Foot Waterfall Located Right Along Hana Highway
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Wailua Falls is a gorgeous 80-foot waterfall that lies right along the Road to Hana. Seriously, right along. You can view these beautiful plunging falls from the comfort of your car (nice after a long drive), or opt to get up and close with the short hike that will take you right to the swimming pool at the falls' base. 

- The HawaiianIslands.com Local Expert Team

Before we get started, there are two waterfalls in Hawaii that are called Wailua Falls, so before you continue and start making plans, it is important to know which one is being discussed. There is a Wailua Falls that is part of the Wailua River State Park on Kauai, a beautiful double-fall waterfall featured in the television series Fantasy Island. This is not the Wailua Falls this article is about.

The Wailua Falls this article is about is located along the Road to Hana in East Maui. You will find this picturesque waterfall just past mile marker number 45 along Hana Highway, in between Wailua Cove and Palhi Falls (another great waterfall to check out). It is, in fact, close to impossible to miss these waterfalls if you are driving along this highway during the day. This is because the waterfall is very viewable from the road itself (which wraps inland at this point undoubtedly in part so that travelers could enjoy the gorgeous vistas). You can drive slowly around the bend and enjoy the crashing beauty of the falls from your car, or you can park at the small neighboring parking lot and get a bit closer.

This parking area can get extremely full as tour vans and busses also often make a pit stop here thanks to the waterfall’s ready view from the road. But if you can’t find a spot or don’t want to wade through the crowds for your own picture, just give it ten minutes or so and you’ll often find a lull just after a crazy rush. 

The first way picture-loving, waterfall-appreciating visitors can get closer to the 80-foot plunging waters that makes up the Wailua Falls is via the bridge. We do not recommend walking onto the bridge at night or during the crepuscular hours as there really isn’t a lot going on in the way of pedestrian safety here. The bridge is narrow and has no pedestrian hand-rails. Always proceed with caution and be aware of your surroundings. 

The good news is that there is another way to see Wailua Falls, and it involves getting a lot closer and not having to worry about through traffic. That way is by hiking the short trail down the rocks and enjoying getting so close to the plunging falls that you are apt to feel the mist on your face. The rocks are slippery, so make sure to move with care. 

In addition to getting some better pictures at the base of the falls, those who complete this short hike can also get the opportunity to swim at the pool formed by the falls. The water here is about six feet deep just under the falls, but generally more shallow, perfect for some wading and cooling off during hot summer days. 

Before you head out, consider checking out the vendors that are regularly set up here. These vendors include those setting snacks for the long road tour as well as those selling unique Hawaiian trinkets and hand-crafted items. Purchasing a small gift here is a great way to get something inexpensive that will also come home with a clear memory of just where you got it. 

Insider Tips:
-The stream that makes Wailua Falls also makes another incredible waterfall called Kekuapoowai Falls. Unfortunately, Kekuapoowai Falls is completely inaccessible by foot and the only way for island visitors to catch sight of it is via a helicopter tour — which most will find worth the expense if they love chasing waterfalls. 
-Puaa Luu Falls and a smaller sister waterfall, Hahalawe Falls, are located just around the bend from Wailua Falls and are also worthy of a stop. Both you can view from the road or opt to go closer by following the small path near the dedicated pullout area.