The Road to Hana is known for many things, but top of the list is the waterfalls. Along the drive to Hana, eager visitors can spot everything from epic falls to gentle cascades. One of the best known of these features is Wailua Falls.
With this guide, we’ve covered all the basics you need to know about Wailua Falls, Maui. Can you hike to Wailua falls in Hana, Maui? How do you get to Wailua Falls? And is Wailua Falls worth the trip?
What Is Wailua Falls?
If you’ve ever looked at photos of Maui waterfalls, then you’ve probably already had a look at Wailua Falls. Known as the most photographed waterfall of Maui, Wailua Falls is an 80-foot cascade of rushing water surrounded by encroaching lush greenery.
It’s also right by the road, making Wailua waterfalls perhaps the easiest to photograph waterfall on Maui.
Along the Road to Hana there are plenty of waterfalls, but few are as picturesque and accessible as Wailua Falls. Found past the town of Hana and on the way to Kipahulu, Wailua Falls is a quick diversion with big rewards.
Many coach trips will also stop at Wailua Falls on the Hana Highway. If not, keep your eye on the window and try to spot it from the road.
How Do You Get To Wailua Falls?
Wailua Falls is located along the Road to Hana, past Hana town but before ‘Ohe’o Gulch. Wailua Falls is between mile markers 44 and 45, and it’s really hard to miss. In fact, it’s visible from the road. If you don’t spot the falls at first, you’re bound to spot the crowds taking photos.
Just past Wailua Falls is a parking lot to the side of the road. Parking is pretty decent here. It can get busy at peak times, but most people stop for a picture and then drive on.
If you show some patience, a space is sure to clear up soon. You can often find local vendors set up in the lot, selling snacks and souvenirs.
Leave your car and head back to the bridge, where you can snap a picture of the falls from a good angle. From the parking lot, there are some steps down to the plunge pool at the base of Wailua Falls. This tends to be a quieter place to take a photo, although be careful on the rocks.
Wailua Falls is roughly 20 minutes drive from Hana, and 10 minutes before you reach ‘Ohe’o Gulch. With a view from the road, this is a quick stop on the journey to grab some photos and take a break.
Wait, Where Is Wailua Falls?
Probably the most confusing thing you’ll find about a trip to Wailua Falls is that it’s not on the Wailua River. It’s not even in Wailua Valley.
Despite what the name might suggest, Wailua Falls is on Honolewa Stream.
Wailua river is the one just before Wailua Falls.
Can You Hike To Wailua Falls In Hana, Maui?
There’s no hiking required to access Wailua Falls in Hana. This is a roadside attraction, with only a short walk to the plunge pool at the base of the cascade. Although there are hiking trails nearby, there are no trails leading directly to Wailua Falls.
But if you’re up for a hike, there’s another waterfall in the area you can head for. Waimoku Falls is a 2-mile hike along the Pipiwai Trail, and the tallest visitor accessible waterfall on Maui.
That doesn’t mean Wailua is the only fall in the area to see. Pua’a Lu’u Falls and Hahalawe Falls are just a short drive from Wailua, and road accessible (but much smaller).
Set further back from Wailua Falls is Kekuapo’owai Falls. Unfortunately, this isn’t accessible by trail. If you really want to get a look at Kekuapo’owai’i Falls, you’ll need to charter a helicopter.
Can You Swim In Wailua Falls?
Yes, you can swim in the plunge pool at Wailua Falls. Pull into the parking lot, and head for the small trail that takes you to the base of the falls. Here you can take a refreshing dip in the pool at Wailua!
Be careful when crossing the rocks that take you to the pool, because they can get very slippery.
The plunge pool at Wailua is small, so swimming can be difficult. But in the water you can relax to the sounds of the running falls, away from the noise and crowds of the road.
If you’ve made Wailua the last stop on your journey down the Road to Hana, a soak in the Wailua plunge pool can give you a chance to catch your breath.
What Other Attractions Are Nearby?
Carry on a little way along the road from Wailua Falls and you’ll find yourself at the Seven Sacred Pools (also known as Pools of ‘Ohe’o or ‘Ohe’o Gulch). The Seven Sacred Pools are considered to be a sort of unofficial end point of the Road to Hana, despite being past Hana town.
‘Ohe’o Gulch is an impressive array of waterfalls and pools flowing together before cascading into the ocean. If you’ve made it down to Wailua Falls, it’s worth the extra drive to see the pools.
Another waterfall in the area that is even larger and more impressive than Wailua (and less likely to be crowded), is Waimoku Falls. This is the end point of the Pipiwai Trail above ‘Ohe’o Gulch. Along the journey you might also get a chance to see Makahiku Falls, although it can sometimes run dry.
Is Wailua Falls Worth The Trip?
There are enough waterfalls along the Road to Hana that you might wonder if it’s worth seeing another one. But Wailua Falls is one of the best waterfalls on the Hana Highway, as well as being the easiest to access.
Whichever way you drive the Road to Hana, Wailua Falls is a picturesque stop that doesn’t have to take up much of your time.
It’s also a good place to rest up before tackling the drive back, or heading on to the Seven Sacred Pools.