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.

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

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


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 the 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 on 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 meters tall. The water here is not falling in a free fall – for the 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.

Wailele Falls of Moloka'i from above, marked with red arrow / US NOAA/NOS Aerial Photography by Pacific Disaster Center, 2000, public domain
Wailele Falls of Moloka’i from above, marked with red arrow / US NOAA/NOS Aerial Photography by Pacific Disaster Center, 2000, public domain

Waterfall is thin and deeply etched in an inaccessible 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 the 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.

Wailele Falls are included in the following list:

Map of 12 best waterfalls in Molokai Island
12 best waterfalls in Molokai Island


  1. Wailele Falls. World Waterfall Database.
Wailele Falls, Moloka’i on the map
Travelers' Map is loading...
If you see this after your page is loaded completely, leafletJS files are missing.
Location, GPS coordinates: 21.1611 N 156.8483 W
Categories: Waterfalls
Values: Geology, Visual
Rating: 2.5 out of 10 stars
Where is located? 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

Landmarks of Hawaii

Eruption of Kīlauea volcano, 1954
Eruption of Kīlauea volcano, 1954 / USGS, public domain
The Hawaiian Islands belong to the most remote islands in the world. Hawaii are characterised by tropical climate, mountainous relief, volcanism and isolation. If compared to most islands in Pacific, several Hawaiian Islands have comparatively large landmass. All these factors have led to the development of numerous impressive and unique natural attractions and some impressive monuments of culture.

Waterfalls and rapids

Virginia Falls, Canada
Virginia Falls / Paul Gierszewski, Wikimedia Commons / public domain
Some of the most fascinating and awe inspiring natural monuments are waterfalls, or locations where a river abruptly changes its elevation.

Recommended books

Lonely Planet Best of Hawaii

Ancient Sites of Maui, Molokai and Lanai

This informative and easy-to-follow guidebook makes the ancient sites of Maui, Molokai and Lanai available to the general public for the first time. Grouping th sites by location, the book characterizes the cultural background of five main types of sites: heiau (temples), pohaku (sacred stones), petroglyphs, caves and fishponds.

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