Road to Hana Waterfalls, Maui

A trip to Maui would be incomplete without traveling the "Road to Hana".  This winding road is liable to make anyone motion sick. Besides the multiple curves and cliffs that are perched above the ocean, waterfalls are found in abundance.  I have never been in any location where there were so many beautiful waterfalls so easily accessible.  Most of these are located beside the road. Many of them are easily missed if one is driving too quickly and not looking down into the river beds as the bridges cross each ravine.

In the interest of photography and also hoping to help other people who may travel this road, I will document the waterfalls that I was able to visit. There are many other websites that do the same that are catered towards the tourists. Mine is catered towards photographers. The waterfalls will be listed in the order they are found traveling from the middle of the island towards Haleakala National Park.  Two waterfalls which I visited are not pictured because the flow of water was so poor that they were not attractive:  Wailua waterfall and Alelele waterfall.  Another waterfall which I had hoped to visit but could not reach because of time was Punalau waterfall.

Upper Waikani Waterfall
Upper Waikani waterfall is the first really spectacular waterfall that I've visited. This is beautiful from many different angles. It can be seen from the road. Hiking down a steep rocky trail can lead to the waterfall itself where people can swim. I crossed over to the far side of the waterfall to take this photograph, trying to get a different perspective from the typical scene.

Nemo Waterfall
The next waterfall is not located on the road. Instead it requires a short hike on to EMI property. This was very easy to find but also very beautiful and private. I had my own waterfall and a beautiful swimming hole to myself.

Hanawi Waterfall
Hanawi waterfall is located next to the road. This is actually the same stream that Nemo falls comes from. Nemo falls is higher up on the hill.  Hanawi is located next to the road. The terrain is so steep that one cannot hike from one to the other. You have to access them from different locations.

Bamboo Falls
The next two waterfalls do not have any particular name. These are located right next to the road in a bamboo grove. They are easy to drive by and not notice. Bamboo waterfall was located slightly higher than Chute falls.  Both of these names are given by me. I do not know of any official name which they have.  These are both past Hana, getting close to the national park.

Chute Falls, right next to the road
Driving on, but not much farther than the previous waterfalls I came across a beautiful sight:  Hahalawe Waterfall, also known as "photo falls".   I read this was also called "Photo Falls" and when I scouted it out online before coming I could only find very bad photos of it. I even mentally put it on the "not worth a stop" list. When I saw it driving to Oheo Gulch, I knew it had great potential. When driving by, the waterfall was half in sun and half in shade. Bad timing. Fortunately I was returning this way the next day and visited earlier in the morning. Conditions were right and I hope my photo does justice to this beautiful waterfall.

Hahalawe Waterfall, aka Photo Fall
Lastly I came to the national park and the waterfalls of Oheo Gulch. Here I discovered the "Seven Sacred Pools".  Although it was January, rainfall had been very scarce lately in the water flow in these pools was quite low. They were not as photogenic as I had anticipated. Despite that, I was not disappointed because of all the other discoveries I had made on this trip.
Oheo Gulch Waterfall
The last waterfall worth mentioning is also located in Hakeakala National Park:  Waimoku waterfall is located at the end of the Pipiwai trail. Hiking up to this waterfall is a delight and is very rewarding for the photographer. The waterfall itself is extremely tall. It is a little more difficult to photograph because of its size. However it is very worthwhile to visit. I enjoyed eating a picnic lunch next to this wonderful waterfall.

Waimoku Waterfall is about 400 feet tall!

How Much Caution is Reasonable?

Hawaii Beach Warning Signs
One thing that I often hear and see a lot of are warnings. As a landscape photographer, I naturally enjoy going out and spending some time in nature:  the desert, a slot canyon, the beach, cliffs, mountains, forests, sand dunes. When researching these locations, I often come across warnings. There are warnings about dehydration, falling off of cliffs, being swept out to sea by large waves, automobile failure in the middle of nowhere including flat tires and dead batteries, getting lost, and so much more.

This photograph is great example of this "attitude of caution."  Here there are warnings for jellyfish, man-of-war, waves breaking off of ledges, waves breaking on the shore, strong currents, unstable rocks and no lifeguard to protect you.  After reading the signs, one would be afraid to proceed. These signs were located in a state park on Maui, specifically Black Sand Beach. The beach was beautiful. I did not go swimming.  A wonderful trail goes along the shoreline. I have been in some remote and potentially dangerous areas. This was not one of those places!

I have reached the point where caution seems to be background noise. I do take it with a grain of salt whenever I hear of particular dangers because usually these dangers are nonexistent or they can easily be assessed using common sense.  If I see a ledge with a huge drop-off, I don't go near to it. I take plenty of water, a shovel, and other gear to get myself out of trouble whenever I drive off into the desert.   But if I believed every single morning I read, I would never be brave enough to leave home.  :(

13 Crossings: Trail Report to Makamakaole Waterfall

Pondering the Beauty of Makamakaole 2nd Waterfall

This is a trail that I could not discover in any guidebook. I found some references to it online as I was searching for unique places to visit on the island of Maui. What makes this location unique is the beautiful waterfall that is split into two forks as it goes down the cliff face. Another unique feature is the location in West Maui. Most of the other waterfalls worth visiting are located on the road to Hana. This is different.

The first of the 13 Crossings
Without really knowing much about the trail other than the trailhead location and the GPS location of the waterfall, I convinced my traveling partner to come with me and explore. We were both pleased to find that the trail is in excellent condition. The entire hike is around 3 miles round is fairly easy until the very end. At that point it becomes scary for about 15 feet. If you can pass that 15 feet of steep drop-off, you can reach this lovely waterfall.  The trick is that you have to climb up a lower waterfall to reach the second and more beautiful waterfall. Going up was frightening for me. Coming down was easy. My wife would tell you the opposite.
Going around and up the first waterfall

Looking down the first waterfall from the second:  you have to climb up and down this to reach the second waterfall.  It would be a bad place to fall but there are many things to hold.
Typical Trail scene
One nice surprise was a stack of boulders carefully placed at the first waterfall, giving a beautiful Zen appearance to this mystical place. We certainly enjoyed our visit.

Zen stones at 1st pool and waterfall

As we were hiking, I kept track of the number of times we crossed the stream. Because this is called the "13 crossings hike" I was pleased to note that we crossed the stream 13 times.  It is well named. :)

Makamakaole stream and boulders along the 13 crossings hike