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Apr '11

POTW – Waterfalls in Hana

Please note. As of 2007, accessing Blue Pool and Blue Angel Fall has become an issue with local residents. From my research, the pool is not a private property. However the access the pool, tourists will have to pass a private driveway. I read several stories of confrontation between tourists and locals. Please respect the property owners and ask for permission by going through the proper channel. My thanks to my reader “Maui” for the information.

The Place

I used to be so crazy about waterfalls, not the ones on the calendars, but the hidden ones that have yet to be discovered nor populated by tourists, the ones that you can swim in the water and feel the fine mist that she created to relieve you from the summer heat.

In 2005, we decided to visit a place that is known for waterfalls, the Eastern Maui, Hawaii. To access it, a highway of 68miles, named Road to Hana, is the only way in and out to the tropical paradise. The beauty of this place is beyond words and this is one of the reasons that the famous aviator, Charles Lindbergh, choose this place to be his resting place.

Among the 68 miles of pavement, we visited several waterfalls but there are only 3 worth mentioning. We started our trip early in the morning of October 17. The clock was reading 5 something in the morning when we left our hotel. We were so excited about this trip and Cora has done extensive research on this scenic route.

Our excitement was quickly doused by the first boring 40 miles of the winding Road to Hana. Once we passed the Hana Airport, the excitement returned! We took on a  little hidden road towards the beach and as the pavement quickly ran out, we knew that dirt road was leading us to the sight of what we could only see on TV – the Blue Angel Fall and her companion, the Blue Pool.

Blue Angel Fall – This one is a bit tricky not only it is hard to find, but the water could be a hit or miss depends on how much rain the island get.

Unlike the California waterfalls, where the source of water is from the snow packs in the mountains, the ones in Hawaii are supplied by rain. A friend of us visited here a month later found this place to be nothing but a empty crater by the cliff. We were a bit lucky and the fall was at its full blast.

Towards the end of the road, you will see a parking lot with a sign saying “$4 all day parking, Blue Angel Fall.” When you see this, you are at the right spot. To save your 4$, continue to drive for another 100 ft and you may some parking on the side of the dirt road. Save you some money and energy to swim later.

Blue Angel Fall

Blue Angel Fall

We spent about an hour here before we left for other falls. This place was totally secluded for the time we were there. We took some pictures and around it then and we swam to the waterfall.  Although it may look shallow around the edge of the pool, it is quite deep below the fall, say around 8 – 10ft. For a minute, we didn’t want to leave this hidden paradise but we have more places to visit before dusk.

Blue Pool and Blue Angel Fall

Blue Pool and Blue Angel Fall

Photography Tips: back then, I had my Fujifilm S7000, an advance point-and-shoot with fewer functions compared to an SLR. With the limited function, I only have a minimum aperture of F11 and a minimum iso of 200. This is a major drawback which make slow shutter photography impossible in the broad daylight for capturing the water fall with shutterspeed of 10-15 seconds. The slow shutter technique is often used to create the silky look on moving water like waterfall and river. To counter this drawback, I use an Hoya ND400 filter to block most of the harsh sunlight and this allows me to shoot this photo with a 15 second exposure time.

Bamboo Forest

Bamboo Forest

The next set of waterfalls lays on the border of Haleakala National Park, towards the end of the Road to Hana. In contrary to the single waterfall from the Blue Pool, this place is a showcase of a series of 10 – 15 waterfalls in various sizes. It also comes with a bonus, a bamboo forest like the ones you have seen in the movie, Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (Where scene of the duel between Zhang ZiYi and Chow Yuan-fat). To see them, it comes with a little price – a easy 4-mile round trip hike. This trail leads visitors to the giant Waimoku Fall – the water curtain that rises 400ft tall from very bottom. The waterfall is the main attraction of the aerial tourism in Maui. When we were in front of the waterfalls, we saw more than 5 choppers visiting this giant beauty. A 10 minutes of helicopter ride with less than 1 minute to spend in front of waterfall can easily costs 200$ per person. If you have a day to spend, I highly recommend this hike to witness the beauty in person without any time limit.

Makahiku Fall

Makahiku Fall in Distance

The Inifity Pool

The Inifity Pool, top of Makahiku Fall

The trail is called Pipiwaii Trail and it is right next to the National Park’s parking lot. Just less than a mile after the starting point, you will see the first waterfalls, the Makahiku Fall, a 180 footer. This is one of the kind waterfall because of the infinity pool on top of the fall. By taking a hidden trail, it will lead you to your very own, all natural made, granite pool with the ocean view. When we got to the trailhead of the hidden trail, it was purposely blocked by branches. While we were reading our map to see if this was the trail, a national park ranger stopped us and asked where we headed. By looking at the towel we each carried, he soon figured out that we are looking for the infinity pool. Then he told us a shocking story – not long ago, a father fell to his death while rescuing his daughter who was swimming in there. The daughter survived when the father pushed her to the side of the pool just barely a few feet away from the fall. It was already too late for the father.

Although this is an awesome hidden spot, it comes with hidden dangers when swimming in it. Try to stay away from the fall and watch for increasing water level in the pool. Any signs of it means the possibility of flashing flood from the rainfall in Mount Haleakala. There were stories posted at the entrance of people who swam in there got swiped away by the flash flood and fell to death.

So how did we end up here? Well, we had to promise the ranger not to swim in there first and then he showed us the trail. When we were done taking the pictures, he saw him working near by the pool and he told us that he was there to make sure we will be okay. What a nice guy!

Entering Bamboo Forest

Entering Bamboo Forest

The next stop was the bamboo forest, once we got here; we saw waterfalls one after another and we saw several daredevil tourists diving from the top of the 10-15 ft waterfall into the pool below. Once entered the forest, we noticed that we were hiking in a totally different place. There were no other vegetation but bamboo and it brought a feeling of tranquility and unity. This was a contrast to what we have seen a mile back where the trail was decorated by hundreds of different types of vegetation. We saw see guava and passionate trees with fruits all over the ground and birds were hopping all over the place to look for the freshest treat. But here in the bamboo forest, it was dead quiet. The only sign of life was the hikers and the bamboo army. The overgrown bamboo covered the sky and stole the most valuable resources for photosynthesis. On the way back, it was only 4pm but it was so dark and we had to use flashlights.



Once we exited the forest, the very last waterfall appeared right in front of us. The giant of the island stood 400ft high and her height turned the falling water into the finest mist which we felt it hundreds feet away. This was the power of the Waimoku fall. We crossed the creek and went straight for it. Besides the fine mist, the sound of the waterfall was loud enough to block the conversation between us. But we were speechless and awed by her beauty.

Waimoku fall in proximity

Waimoku fall in proximity

Just few feet away!

Just few feet away!

We spent about 30 minutes here to rest and eat some snack and of course, to capture a few shots of the fall and then called it a day. The long and winding Hana Highway added another 3 hours to our drive time. We didn’t get home ’till 11pm.

Cora at the bottom of the fall

Cora at the bottom of the fall

Food / Lodging

Unfortunately, the options for food and lodging is limited on this side of the island. Hana is the only town that provides both. We had our lunch at the Hana Ranch and it was not good. I would recommend to bring your own food and cooler. There are a few hotels here but the price range is higher than that of Kihei. This place has a lot of point of interest and if you really want to explore, it will take more than just a day. We didn’t finish visiting all the places on our list and we were regretted that we didn’t spend a night there. For those who enjoyed to explore, I will recommend to make this a 2-day trip.


The points of interest along the Hana Highway are not marked for most of the time. We used the information form a book titled “Road to Hana, Mile by Mile” to locate the POIs. The tips here are using the mile marker signs alongside the highway to find these locations.


Always watch out for flash flood when swimming. Know your limit. Swimming in moving water is different than that in flat water.

Watch out for thieves and pickpockets! Our rental car was broken into and Cora lost her bag and I lost my water camera. We rented a Jeep Wrangler and although it looks pretty cool and rugged to drive around, the soft-top roof and zippered window are a major design flaw. The thieves who stole from us opened the window by simply unzipping it.

Next time….

Kayaking, horseback riding, and hiking in the Yosemite high country. This will be the best place to avoid the crowded lower valley and a seldom traveled place with absolute serenity.




10 comments to “POTW – Waterfalls in Hana”

  1. Maui Says:

    Waimoku is fine to share due to its being part of the National Park, but please keep Blue Pool underwraps, or at least explain the trespassing issues. You don’t want to lead more tourists to this spot just to have them chased out by angry locals.

    You have a responsibility to the local people and culture when discussing different spots.

    Aloha, and beautiful photos!

  2. Administrator Says:

    hi Maui: thx for your feedback. I always thought the Blue Pool is a tourist attraction because we found it in a guidebook.

    Is it a private property? I will do more research on the status of it and make appropriate revision to my blog. At this time, I did not list the direction or the name of the street in my blog. I hope this will keep the tourists out.

    thx again for your visit and the compliment for my photos.

  3. Kayleigh Bierner Says:

    Good blog post.

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  6. Jennifer Morales Says:

    Beautiful Pictures. It’s a shame the Blue Pool is off limits, but I’ll take what I can. Friends and I are planning a trip there in March. I’ve never been. I found a picture of a Black Beach in Hana as well that I would love to try to visit. Have you been there or do you know where it is? Apparently, it can’t be google mapped. Thanks again, and beautiful photos. They are really hyping me up for this trip!

  7. admin Says:

    Hi Jennifer. Thanks for the compliments and welcome to my blog. I bet you are looking forward to Maui just like we did after we booked the trip. It is a beautiful place and you will fun tons of fun. It’s such a regret that the Blue Angel Fall is out of our reach but there are plenty of places to see. I highly recommend the hike to Waimoku thru the Pipiwai trail. The hiking in the bamboo forest is one unforgettable experience.

    As for the black sand beach, there are two beaches on Hana side, Honomanu Bay and Waianapanapa State Wayside Park. Honomanu is about 14 miles from Pa’ia Town and the state park is about 32 miles from Pa’ia. The state park is highly rated and it is located right before Hana Town.

    Have a great time!

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