Maui is famous for its waterfalls, most of which are located along the Road to Hana. But if you don’t fancy the long drive to East Maui, you might want to check out some waterfalls closer to the popular tourist destination of Lahaina.
Luckily, Lahaina backs on to the West Maui mountains, which hide some interesting features in the valleys and peaks.
Several hiking trails wind through the West Maui mountains, giving visitors an up close look at the verdant slopes.
Hiking these trails can introduce you to the hidden waterfalls of West Maui, as well as some amazing panoramic views. Take a look at our guide to waterfall hikes near Lahaina to find out more.
Makamakaole Stream Trail
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Makamakaole Stream Trail is a West Maui hike that follows the Makamakaole stream to the lower portion of Makamakaole Falls.
Along the way, you pass a small bamboo forest and a Banyan tree, before the trail diverges to the lower cascades of the waterfall.
Makamakaole Stream Trail is a bit of a hidden gem, as many tourists are unaware of this path cutting through the forest.
It’s also known as 13 Crossings, as hikers have to cross back and forth over the stream to continue the trail. With waterfalls and bamboo, it’s a sort of mini Road to Hana, for those who can’t make the drive.
How To Get There
There is a very small parking lot for Makamakaole Stream Trail, which is located next to the trailhead. Look for the bridge that crosses over the Makamakaole Stream, and you should see a small shoulder in which to park.
If this is full, there are a few other shoulders where you can pull in and park further along the road. Alternatively, head back to the road that turns up to the Waihe’e Ridge Trail, and park in the overflow lot.
The hardest part of the hike are the crossings, which take you back and forth over the slippery rocks of the stream. Water boots or water shoes are a good choice, as you can expect wet feet.
Consider taking hiking poles to help you over the worst crossings. Luckily, the path is normally quiet, so you can take as much time as you need to cross safely.
Waihe’e Ridge Trail
Heading inland from the Central Maui coast to the valleys of the West Maui mountain, the Waihe’e Ridge Trail is a trail that has everything—and that includes waterfalls.
Although it doesn’t get you the same up close experience as 13 Crossings, you can still spot plunging waterfalls along the way.
In the distance are the upper falls of Makamakaole, which you can view in full splendor from along the ridge trail.
This path also takes you along lush forestry, and to a lookout point that offers views across the coast, and back across the mountains and valleys.
How To Get There
If you want to enjoy Waihe’e Ridge Trail, we recommend turning up early. As in, 7am, when the gate opens. The parking lot at the trailhead is small, and it fills up quickly.
Throughout the day finding a spot tends to be a matter of luck. The overflow lot is much further along the road, and adds an uncomfortable extra walk to an already hard hike.
To access Waihe’e Ridge Trail, follow Kahekili Hwy until the turning for Maluhia Road. Follow Maluhia Road until it reaches the parking lot. The trail is challenging in places, and strong footwear is an absolute must.
Hiking poles are also recommended, particularly if the ground is wet. The trail is roughly 5 miles in total, and has noticeable elevation.
Pack water and snacks, and make sure to wear reef safe sunscreen as large parts of the hike have no cover.
Okay, this one isn’t a hike, because it’s completely inaccessible by foot. But we couldn’t ignore what’s thought to be the largest waterfall on Maui that happens to be located in the West Maui Mountains.
Honokohau Falls is a two-tier plunge fed by Honokohau Stream that drops over 1,100 feet. If you want to get a look at Honokohau Falls, the only way is via helicopter tour.
There are no hiking trails that offer even a glimpse of the magnificent sight.
It might seem surprising that 1,100 feet of rushing water can be completely hidden from view, but the rugged terrain of the West Maui mountains renders large areas completely unwalkable.
Are There Waterfall Hikes In Lahaina?
Lahaina is on West Maui, and the popular tourist town lies between the ocean and the West Maui mountains.
Although tucked within the mountains are streams and drops that seem perfect for waterfalls, most of Maui’s most famous falls are located on the other side of the island.
And many of the falls within the West Maui mountains are inaccessible by foot, including massive Honokohau falls.
The nearest waterfall hikes to Lahaina are along the northwest coast, and across to Central Maui. Further south, the landscape turns drier, and the sloping greenery gives way to the flatter lava rocks of Wailea and Makena.
Can You Drive The Road To Hana From Lahaina?
Maui’s most famous waterfalls are located along the Hana Highway, a curving road that encompasses the eastern coast of the island.
Many visitors staying in Lahaina choose to tackle the Road to Hana, although we recommend getting an early start.
Set off at daybreak to beat the worst of the traffic, as you’ll need to pass through the North Shore before you reach the first mile marker on the Road to Hana.
Whereas the West Maui waterfalls are hidden along difficult trails, the Road to Hana is home to falls that are visible from the road.
There are also several hiking trails that delve into the East Maui landscape, revealing more falls along the way.
Lahaina is overlooked by the West Maui mountains, which have sloping green hills and frequent rainfall—perfect waterfall conditions!
But if there are waterfalls, most of them are hidden in the valleys. The best trails for seeing waterfalls near Lahaina are Makamakaole Stream Trail, and Waihe’e Ridge Trail.