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Wailele Falls, Moloka'i

Main characteristics

Coordinates: 21.1611 N 156.8483 W
No:94        (list of all attractions)
Values:Geology, Visual
Address:Oceania, United States, Hawaii, north coast of Moloka'i, Haloku cliffs between Pelekunu and Wailau, some 1600 m west from Wailau Valley and 800 m east from Olo'upena Falls
Height:Around 580 m
Wailele Falls, Molokai from above, Hawaii
Wailele Falls of Moloka'i from above, marked with red arrow / US NOAA/NOS Aerial Photography by Pacific Disaster Center, 2000, public domain

Some of the highest seaside cliffs in the world are stretching along the northern coast of Moloka'i island. The highest ones are some 4.2 km wide cliffs (Haloku Cliffs) between Pelekunu and Wailau valleys, reaching a height up to 1,010 m.

Here are located several spectacular and extremely high waterfalls, including the Wailele Falls.

Wailele Falls and Puukaoku Falls, Hawaii
Wailele Falls near the centre. Lower part of Pu'uka'oku Falls are seen in the right side. / carmelinhawaii, screen capture from Youtube


Falls have formed in some of the highest cliffs of the world, which are located in the north-eastern part of Moloka'i, in some 4 - 5 km long section between the Pelekunu and Wailau valleys. Here ocean meets nearly vertical cliffs rising up to 1,010 m above the sea. Cliffs end abruptly in the sea and in Hawaiian are called "na pali" - sea cliffs.

At Wailele Falls there has formed a narrow beach - but it is inaccessible, limited by high cliffs in both sides.

There are numerous small streams falling over the edge of the cliff. These streams are small (only 1 - 3 km long) and seasonal - during the dry season there is little water. But during the rainy season (November - March) enormous cliff becomes adorned with numerous white ribbons of waterfalls.

Wailele Falls, according to the estimates from topographical maps are approximately 580 metres tall. Water here is not falling in a free fall - for most part it slides down along the nearly vertical basalt cliff. In the lower part though it reaches cliff overhand and is falling in free fall.

Waterfall is thin and deeply etched in unaccessible cliff. Due to this it is rarely seen and photographed.

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.

Only 800 - 900 m to the west there is located the highest known waterfall in Hawaii and one of highest waterfalls in the world - Olo'upena Falls (some 900 m tall) and some 200 - 400 m to the west are approximately 840 m high Pu'uka'oku Falls.

At high winds Wailele Falls and other falls nearby don't reach the ocean - wind catches them and rises up again. This fascinating sight is not seen by general tourists - helicopters and boats do not move around in such weather.


See Wailele Falls of Moloka'i on the map of Hawaii!


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