Upper Hanawai Falls…mind blown. That seems to be the general consensus of nearly every last person to visit the famed falls. Though a traveler through the wonderland that is the Road to Hana is hard pressed to choose her favorite spot along the way, there’s hardly a better illustration of Mother Nature’s incomprehensible natural beauty than this beloved gem.
Tucked away near mile marker 24, this lovely cascade and its crystal-clear pool could very well be the most photographed waterfall in Hawaii. Amazingly, arguably the best place to photograph this 30-foot stunner is right on the bridge. This old-timey bridge is one of 80 that was completed in the area between 1908 and 1940—it seems as though the deeper and deeper you travel into the prolific jungle that characterized the Road to Hana, the further you go back in time.
Though it’s ridiculously tempting to pick yourself a way down to the pool below the falls, we don’t advise it—the land is known to often give way to landslides, and can be slippery and treacherous. If you wake up on the morning of your planned trip down the Road to Hana only to find it raining, don’t let that deter you…all of the falls—Hanawai in particular—are breathtaking year round, but especially during or after a rainstorm.
Along Hanawai Stream’s 9-mile path to the ocean, Upper Hanawai Falls is merely one of many impressive cascades this modest body of water tumbles over. Just downstream is the legendary 200-foot Hanawai Falls. Unfortunately, the land around it is leased by the East Maui Irrigation company, and they don’t grant hiking permits.