BEAUTIFUL MAUI WATERFALLS
A RAINY DAY IS THE BEST DAY ON MAUI!
ROAD TO HANA WATERFALLS
Luckily, some of Maui’s most picturesque waterfalls can be seen up close and fortunately they’re spread out all along the famous Hana Highway (AKA: the Road to Hana). A quick jaunt into the jungle along the Road to Hana means you will experience the exotic, densely overgrown flora which is typical of Maui’s rain forests. There are even swimming holes at base of some of the waterfalls where you can take a dip in the cool mountain water (unless marked with a “NO SWIMMING” or “CAUTION” sign). And, FYI –just as a precaution, NEVER jump into a pool from above unless you know how deep it is and what is on the bottom!
The waterfalls all along the Road to Hana are fed by the rains from Haleakala. It can take anywhere from 6 to 12 hours for the water to travel down the side of the mountain to create these amazing waterfalls, which is why an expert guide is necessary to find the best waterfalls of the day. Our guides are trained to know how to tell which waterfalls are flowing, depending on when and where the rains fall on Haleakala.
Hawaiians believe that water is life. Why? Simple. Because, it fed their taro farms for the last 1500 years. Most taro is grown hydroponically by running the water through the taro fields while still allowing the mountain’s water to continue on its natural path to the ocean. The fresh, mineral-rich water, after nourishing the taro, enters the ocean and creates food for the fish and the coral, allowing the reef systems to thrive.
TOUR MAUI’S WATERFALLS
VIE’s customized Comfort Cruisers were specifically designed to elevate you, to help ensure you can see it all. You won’t realize what an advantage it is to be above the guard rails, until you try to drive the Hana Highway yourself, (unless of course you happen to overhear other frustrated drivers). Self-touring, with a book or CD, makes visitors frustrated because they can’t get many great photos from their car or Jeep. Certainly taking VIE’s Road to Hana Tour in a Comfort Cruiser is the best way to “get the shot” without fighting for a parking spot, or missing it altogether.
So, that’s why we made elevation a priority when we designed our Comfort Cruisers –so that all of this incredible beauty is revealed and accessible at all times, whether you decide to get out and explore a bit or not. Surprisingly, even Jeeps do not sit up high enough to get a line of sight above the guardrails. We don’t want you to miss all of the gorgeous flora and fauna! Many people don’t realize it but Maui has exotic birds as well and it’s truly a treat when they make an appearance.
Guardrails have been placed along the Hana Highway in several strategic spots, to help keep people safe, but with 600+ turns, incredibly steep terrain and unpredictable weather, saying it would be “challenging” to make the entire Hana Highway safe is an understatement. The cost to put guardrails along the entirety of this famous 52+ mile stretch of asphalt (most of which has a cliff on one side until you reach Hana) would be astronomical! All joking aside, safety is paramount on the Road to Hana, which is why we take so many guests each year.
Considering Hana gets unpredictable weather on a regular basis, it’s smart to let a professional take the wheel when riding the Hana Highway. It frees you up to enjoy the scenery of the Road to Hana and take some unforgettable pictures through our Custom Cruiser’s huge windows while keeping yourself and your camera dry. Everyone else braving the Road needs to stop, attempt to find a place to park (not always an easy task), and try to find a spot in the road to get their shot. In some cases, it’s almost impossible to stop because of the limited space on the sides of the highway and the overwhelming number of tourists. When this is the case, we can simply go very slowly past the waterfall so you can get your photo and then we’re off to the next stop. The special, elevated design of our Comfort Cruisers allows our expert guides to show you more of the island’s waterfalls and other amazing sites in less time than you would be able to see them on your own.
Unless you take a helicopter tour, it’s hard to imagine how many waterfalls there really are on Maui. Actually, it would take a lot of flight time to see them all. The road to Hana has the most, but the amazing thing is that for every waterfall you see from the road, there are a dozen or more above it and usually a few more below that you don’t see! So, if you want the best waterfall bang for your buck, head to Hana with as many camera batteries and as much digital card space as you can muster.
Whether you fly up into the West Maui Mountains or take a road trip to Hana, it’s different every time. Either waterfall flow rates are different or the foliage around them grows. No matter how many times you see them, waterfalls are often different.
Most people on vacation to Maui realize Hana’s waterfalls are something not to be missed, but fulfilling this feat on your bucket list is not without it’s challenges. Here are some tips to make sure you see, photograph and experience the best ones:
TIPS FOR SEEING & PHOTOGRAPHING WATERFALLS IN MAUI
The best light is between 10am and 4pm – Leaving early and taking our van tours is the best plan, because even though the road to Hana is around 90 miles long (if you do the full loop) it can take five to seven hours of travel time to get to the larger falls past Hana. If you don’t know which waterfalls are worth stopping at you could end up either missing the best ones as it gets dark or spend too much time at less picturesque small ones.
Most of Maui’s waterfalls along the road to Hana are in steep valleys and the sun doesn’t get to the bottom of them till after approximately 10am. Another concern is that the clouds often build up on the slopes of Haleakala in the afternoon so keep in mind that this is good for photos but conditions can get wet and chilly. Flash flooding is always a possibility on this side of the island because of the rainclouds that can build up at any time on the upper slopes at high elevations.
If it’s rainy day in Maui, going on a Hana tour might be a good option. Rainy days are often no good for the beach or ocean activities, but that is when waterfalls are at their best out in Hana. Rather than being stuck inside watching movies and losing a vacation day, head to Hana on a tour for some spectacular waterfall action! It rains somewhere along the road to Hana every day, however if it’s a large storm that is another thing. This road can be treacherous during a storm with flooding, rock slides and tree debris blocking the road. If you’ve booked a tour they can check local conditions and decide for you whether it’s safe to be out on the road. They will reschedule you for a better day.
Long exposures give waterfalls a dreamy look and feel. You can also use a tripod as a walking stick because the streams and pools are wet and slick.
One other thing to keep in mind is that the road to Hana has it’s dangers. Never cross a guard rail or get close to the edge of the road to get a better view or photo. The cliff edges can be hidden in the thick foliage and fragile lava rock can crumble away under your feet. Another thing is if the water is running brown that means flooding is occurring upstream. Flash flooding can happen on a sunny day as it takes hours for the water to reach the ocean from the rains high above on the mountain tops. Keep in mind also that swimming in muddy water in this tropical climate is dangerous because of all the bacteria in it carried from upstream floods. Hana tour guides know this, and it’s another reason to take a tour -because their local knowledge will help keep you safe.
The waterfalls are mainly found on the north and northeast slopes of the mountains that make up Maui. Hana is situated on the northeast corner of Maui, just below Haleakala Volcano. Since Haleakala is so much larger and taller than the West Maui Mountains, you’ll find most of the waterfalls in Maui are on it’s slopes. Starting in Haʻiku, you will see creeks flowing under the Hana highway every mile or so. Traveling up the coast towards Hana, the land becomes very steep and the road follows a rugged coastline of cliffs and gulches. These steep gulches cut into the forest all the way up Haleakala Volcano and cradle streams which pour water down over hundreds of waterfalls on their way to the ocean. The road to Hana passes over many of these streams during the water’s journey to the ocean and usually as the water flows down over rock outcroppings, there are wonderful jungle settings, accentuated by picturesque waterfalls. The best Maui waterfalls are found around Hana. The biggest waterfall that can be seen from the Hana Highway is located past Hana, just a few miles before The Pools at Oheo.
It’s not an exaggeration when your guide says, “Literally hundreds of waterfalls are constantly being created by the 56+ streams that are crossed on the Road to Hana.” The tours, without trained guides, tend to stop at the first few bridges and spend a lot of time at them just to give their customers a quick waterfall fix. Although they may be tourist magnets, the problem is they’re definitely not the best waterfalls to be found on the Road to Hana. Our expert drivers/guides know where the best ones are and they will maximize your time at those.
VIE’s Road to Hana Tour allows you to enjoy optimal photo opportunities of those first waterfalls and more, from the comfort of our custom Cruisers’ enlarged viewing windows, without wasting time getting out. There are plenty of waterfalls that the generic tour CDs and guidebooks mention, but this won’t really help you because only a human tour guide can show you the best falls of the day, (which depends on the amount of rainfall in the previous several hours at certain altitudes/areas). Plus, only an expert Hana guide can properly interpret what you really want to see so that you do get to see it without wasting the entire day trying to find it. We strive to maximize your fun and vacation time on Maui!