Want to see the famous waterfalls of Maui? You might struggle on West Maui, where the waterfalls are hidden in the difficult terrain of the West Maui Mountains!
Learn more about the waterfalls of West Maui with our guide.
West Maui Waterfalls
Table of Contents
Upper Makamakaole Falls
The most famous, and accessible, waterfall in West Maui is Makamakaole Falls. Running into the Makamakaole stream, this is a two-step waterfall hidden among the West Maui Mountains.
The best way to see Upper Makamakaole Falls is from the Waihee Ridge Trail. You might not get an up close look of the falls, but you can really take in the height and power.
And as your best view of the falls is from part way along the trail, this is an excellent option for those who don’t want a long hike.
Lower Makamakaole Falls
The second step of the waterfall, Lower Makamakaole Falls is one of the rare West Maui waterfalls that hikers can actually get close to.
Following the Makamakaole stream into the mountains, the path eventually leads you to the base of Makamakaole Falls.
For the best view of Lower Makamakaole Falls, head along the 13 Crossings trail. This hike is pretty hard going, with numerous river crossings and a path that encompasses some rough terrain.
However, it does end directly at Makamakaole Falls, and you can enjoy cooling your feet in the waterfall pool.
One of the most impressive waterfalls on Maui, Honokohau Falls is completely inaccessible to hikers.
You might think that a waterfall measuring roughly 1,100 feet would be very difficult to hide, but tucked away in the contours of the West Maui Mountains, Honokohau Falls is masked from view.
But there is a way to get a glimpse of these magnificent falls—by helicopter! Helicopter tours of the West Maui Mountains often include a fly over Honokohau Falls, allowing visitors to take in the awe-inspiring sight.
Other West Maui Waterfalls
The West Maui themselves were formed by volcanic eruptions that occurred between 500,000 and 320,000 years ago.
They dominate the western side of the island, and have played an important role in the development of farming on Maui in recent years.
Covered in greenery, filled with cliffs and contours, and cut through with many running streams, you’d expect the West Maui mountains to be a haven for waterfall lovers.
But while there may be many impressive falls hidden between the mountain folds, they are largely inaccessible to hikers.
Can You Hike To West Maui Waterfalls?
It is possible to hike to Makamakaole Falls, but be prepared for quite a trip! Unlike many of the falls on the Road to Hana, Makamakaole Falls are not a roadside attraction. Access requires a long walk over difficult conditions.
13 Crossings, otherwise known as the Makamakaole Trail, leads hikers directly to the pool at the base of Makamakaole Falls.
This hike consists of several trips back and forth over the Makamakaole stream (13 Crossings, to be precise), and takes you past a Banyan tree and through a small bamboo forest.
It’s hard work, and you need to be wearing shoes with good grip.
Alternatively, the Waihee Ridge Trail offers you a view of the complete falls, but from a distance. From the Waihee Ridge, you have exceptional views across the West Maui Mountains, and overlooking the falls.
From some lookout points you can, potentially, spot other waterfalls that are tucked into the contours of the West Maui Mountains. However, largely masked by the ridges and greenery, you aren’t guaranteed a sighting.
Can You Swim In The West Maui Waterfalls?
Hikers on the 13 Crossings trail will find waterfall pools, but they aren’t deep enough to swim in.
Depending on the recent levels of rainfall, you might find there’s enough water for a splash about, or maybe a paddle, but not enough to swim.
If you do intend to hike the 13 Crossings Trail and paddle in the plunge pool, check the weather conditions before making your journey.
This hike follows a stream, and recent heavy rain can render the path dangerous and impassable. Consider the weather across the entire West Maui Mountain area, as heavy rain further inland can lead to flash flooding.
Tips For Visiting West Maui Waterfalls
- The 13 Crossings hike is the best way to get close to the waterfalls on West Maui, but it doesn’t offer a view of the entire falls. Instead, the trail leads you to the base of Makamakaole Falls, and the pool. Still impressive, you can get a view of the falls by looking directly up.
- The Waihee Ridge Trail offers a panoramic view of Makamakaole Falls. From the trail, both the upper and lower portions of the falls are visible, and you can see the way the stream cuts through the mountains.
- The view of Makamakaole Falls doesn’t mark the end point of the Waihee Ridge Trail! The view point is roughly halfway along, and you can sometimes hear the falls from the path. Until this point, the trail is only moderately difficult, but be prepared for a heavy incline if you want to follow the rest of the route.
- Strong footwear is an absolute must, whichever trail you take. For 13 Crossings, make sure your shoes can handle some water—you’re likely to get your feet wet along the way.
- There are no facilities in this area. Pack plenty of water and snacks, to keep you going throughout the hike.
- For a slightly easier waterfall sighting, Twin Falls is the first stop on the Road to Hana, and a comfortable journey from West Maui.
Maui is famous for its waterfalls, but you won’t find many of them on West Maui. It’s not that they aren’t there, they’re just incredibly difficult to access.
The West Maui Mountains are a landscape filled with curves and contours, cliffs and crevices, making navigating the area by foot almost impossible!
But if you do want to see a West Maui waterfall, try the 13 Crossings Trail, or the Waihee Ridge Trail.