Kahiwa Falls

Main characteristics

Coordinates: 21.1702 N 156.8078 W
No:95        (list of all attractions)
Values:Geology, Visual
Address:Oceania, United States, Hawaii, north coast of Moloka'i, high seaside cliffs between Wailau and Papalaua valleys
Alternate names:Kawika Falls
Height:Roughly 660 m, highest drop - 183 m

Some of the highest seaside cliffs in the world are stretching along the northern coast of Moloka'i island. Among the tallest ones are approximately 2.5 km wide cliffs between Wailau and Papalaua valleys, reaching the height of 750 - 800 m.

Here are located the spectacular and extremely high Kahiwa Falls.


Falls have formed in very tall cliffs located in the north-eastern part of Moloka'i, in some 2.5 km long section between the Wailau and Papalaua valleys. Here ocean meets nearly vertical cliffs rising up to 800 m above the sea. Cliffs end abruptly in the sea and in Hawaiian are called "na pali" - sea cliffs.

Few small streams fall over the edge of the cliff. The largest of these streams, forming Kahiwa Falls, is just 1 - 1.5 km long and due to small catchment it is seasonal - during the dry season there is little water. But during the rainy season (November - March) there is falling very impressive fall. Contrary to the higher falls more to the west (f.e. Olo'upena Falls), Kahiwa Falls for most part are free falling and not that much floating along the basalt cliff.

Kahiwa Falls, according to the estimates from topographical maps are approximately 660 metres tall. Whole height of falls is hard to see - upper part is hidden among the cliffs. Falls have 6 drops, the highest drop is 183 m tall.

Waterfall is thin - but at heawy rain it can get up to 8 m wide. Upper part of falls is deeply etched in unaccessible cliff.

Falls can be observed from the sea - there are tourist companies offering guided boat tours along this rugged, extremely impressive coast. One can go closer to the falls and experience a mist falling from this wonderful nature monument. Even more impressive sight opens from helicopter. Boat ride and helicopter though require good weather conditions.

Kahiwa Falls, Hawaii
Lower part of Kahiwa Falls. / carmelinhawaii, screen capture from Youtube

When the wind is strong, Kahiwa Falls do not fall into the ocean - wind catches the water and rises it up again. This fascinating sight is not seen by general tourists - helicopters and boats do not move around in such weather.

Common misunderstandings

Tallest in Hawaii?

Often there is mentioned that Kahiwa Falls are the highest in Hawaii. This is not true - not far from Kahiwa are Olo'upena Falls (roughly 900 m), Pu'uka'oku Falls (roughly 840 m), Haloku Falls (roughly 700 m). On Kaua'i island there are Wai'ale'ale Falls which also could be 900 m high.

Sometimes there is met also announcement that Kahiwa Falls are the LONGEST falls in Hawaii. This is somewhat harder to grasp - may be here is meant the distance between the extreme ends of waterfall. In the case of Kahiwa this distance seems to be less than 300 m: thus here Kahiwa does not win either - there are numerous falls in Hawaii with many drops divided by some distance.

Wrong images

Very often the beautiful nearby Papalaua Falls are presented as Kahiwa Falls. See yourselves - search of "Kahiwa" in Flickr will bring you four images of Papalaua Falls! Only one of these images by luck contains also Kahiwa Falls seen to the right from pole.

If you see an image of very high waterfall at the far end of green valley - these for sure are not Kahiwa Falls but rather the Papalaua Falls which are only 1 - 1.2 km away. Kahiwa Falls fall nearly directly into the ocean!


See Kahiwa Falls on the map of Hawaii!

Kahiwa Falls are included in the following lists:

Top 10 waterfalls of Hawaiian Islands

Map of 10 best waterfalls in Hawaiian Islands

Top 12 Moloka'i waterfalls

Map of Molokai


  1. Kahiwa Falls. World Waterfall Database. Accessed on June 6, 2010

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