Hawaii's Upside Down Waterfall

By Joseph Kiprop on May 28 2018 in Environment

The waterfalls are seen only from the highway.

Hawaii is known for its stunning natural beauty, with the isolation of the islands resulting in a landscape found nowhere else on earth. The islands that makeup Hawaii are predominantly green due to abundance of vegetation and lush forests that virtually cover Hawaii’s entire land surface. Hawaii is also home to some spectacular waterfalls and has one of the highest densities of waterfalls on earth. One of the island’s, Oahu, is known for its amazing waterfalls such as the Manoa Falls, the Waimea Falls, the Lulumahu Falls, and Kapena Falls among many others. However, the most interesting of Oahu’s waterfalls is the Waipuhia Falls, also known as the Upside Down Waterfall.


The Upside Down Waterfall is located along the Pali Highway in Oahu. As its name suggests, the Upside Down Waterfall appears to have its waters defying gravity and flowing in an upside-down direction, an appearance that is most profound when observed at a distance. The explanation behind this strange appearance can be seen when observed closer. The waterfall is situated in a region that is exposed to strong winds, which blow the waters of the waterfall before they hit the bottom of the 100-foot tall cliff. The Upside Down Waterfall appears during the rainy season and can be seen ideally while on the highway. Another exciting feature of the Upside Down Waterfall is a hidden cave found in the middle of the cliff.


Visitors wishing to get a closer view of the waterfall need to brace themselves for a challenging descent, due to the absence of a clear hiking trail down the steep slope which is also filled with vegetation. But even before starting the descent, one needs to identify a place for parking in the remote region. The waterfall is situated in a place with little human settlement, and parking can be done in any random place along the Pali Highway. The next challenge comes during descent as the steep slope is always muddy, making it necessary for one to have hiking boots or any other sturdy all-weather footwear. Full-body clothing is also important, to avoid scratches from the lush vegetation found down the slope. A machete can come in handy in the descent, to enable one to make a path through the vegetation. The region is also notorious for its mosquitoes, and therefore mosquito repellant is a must-have.

Things to Carry

The falls are neither kid nor pet-friendly, and with good reason. Scaling down the steep slope is quite slippery, making it extremely hazardous for children. Visitors are also advised to have trail markers with them to prevent getting lost in the forests down the slope. These markers can be simple colored ribbons or chalk so that one marks a trail when descending to be used as the reference when scaling back up. The bottom of the cliff is in a perpetual state of wetness, and so visitors are advised to carry with them waterproof electronic gadgets such as cameras and phones. A simple towel and an extra set of clothes are necessary to change after being exposed to the wet atmosphere down the cliff.

More in Environment