Cascade of Waterfalls Blanket the Koolau’s + View From Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden

Over the last few days Hawaii has been experiencing moderate to very heavy rainfall. The weather seemed to be at its worst on Tuesday with heavy rain and flash flooding throughout the state. On Wednesday, Governor Abercrombie declared a state of disaster for the islands of Oahu and Kauai. Some areas on Oahu saw more than 15 inches of rainfall, while Kauai saw 35 inches. Many schools and golf courses closed due to the severe weather. The state even shut down Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve because of the surface runoff from the heavy rain.

We pulled over on the side of the H-3 and this is what we saw. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The View of the Koolau Mountain Range from Hoomaluhia Botanical Gardens. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

With the rain falling like crazy, Joel and I decided to set off on Tuesday to see if we could catch a peak of the many natural waterfalls flowing down the Koolau Range. We decided that our best bet would be to jump on the John A. Burns Freeway or, as it is better know, Interstate H-3. The H-3 runs along a viaduct through Halawa Valley for about 6 miles. This particular stretch of the freeway was entirely socked in. It was as if we were driving through the clouds. However, things cleared up a bit and we had amazing view of the Koolau Mountain Range just after the Tetsuo Harano Tunnels. We pulled over on the side of the freeway and proceeded to admire the many waterfalls surrounding us.

This was one of the views that we had from the H-3. This was across from us adjacent to the westbound side of the H-3. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

I came prepared for this moment (sort of). I donned my surf shorts and decided to jump out of the 4Runner to snap some photos. We brought along my Sony NEX-5N, Joel’s Canon EOS 50D, my GoPro HD HERO, and of course our iPhones. Unfortunately, the only waterproof camera we had (the GoPro) was dead (including the spare battery). For a good 15-20 minutes it was just drizzles with intermittent rainfall. We took advantage of this by taking as many photos as we could, however, because of the rain we had to get creative in order to protect our cameras. I flexed and contorted my body in ways that I never knew I could.

Triple Waterfalls. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Waterfalls in the background. Taken at Hoomaluhia. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

A long waterfall. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

The clouds were also beautiful. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

A closeup of one of the waterfalls. Photo by Joel Sabugo.

Row after row of naturally flowing waterfalls. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

A triplet of waterfalls. Taken at Hoomaluhia. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

The view from the H-3 was unbelievably beautiful. I had never seen the Koolau’s flowing with this much water before. A few moments after we pulled over, another car pulled up in the back of us. We thought he was going to yell at us for being dangerously stupid. Instead, he pulled over and came up to our car and talked to us about how awesome the waterfalls flowing down the Koolau’s were.

After about 20 minutes on the side of the H-3 the heavy rainfall appeared again. We decided to leave the H-3 and headed to Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe. I had been there a few weeks before and knew that the waterfalls should be flowing there since the garden was tucked away close to the Koolau Mountain Range. The views from the Hoomaluhia Botanical Garden were just as stunning as the views from the H-3. Hoomaluhia was empty during our visit leaving it very tranquil. We ran into maybe 3 or 4 other people. We were able to enjoy and have the Koolau waterfalls all to ourselves.

I believe that this photo was taken near the visitor center at Hoomaluhia. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Another view of the Koolau’s from Hoomaluhia. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

Seriously, waterfalls were everywhere. Photo by Coty Gonzales.

About Coty

Founder of Exploration: Hawaii. Adventure, Minimalism, Vinyl, Typography, and Coffee + Matcha. A single space after a period, please.


    • Hey Ikaika, thank you! I surprised myself by actually getting out there and all wet to see these waterfalls. It was fun to do so and totally worth it!

  1. Tim Dewald (Andy's Dad)

    Hey there, Dr. Coty!

    Thanks for the beautiful pictures! They are spectacular, but then, they always are!

    Tim (Andy’s Dad)

    • Hi Tim, thank you very much! The weather conditions here have been pretty rough the last few days but this has resulted in some very beautiful scenery, especially on the Windward side of the island. I can’t even imagine what Kauai must be like right now. Glad you enjoyed the photos! I hope that you and Carol are doing great!

    • Thanks McKenzie! Yes, this was during the major rainstorms that we experienced during March. It was fun to go driving around the island waterfall hunting! Good stuff.

  2. Coty, I have been searching for a primo Kooau Mountain waterfall picture. Several of yours are what I have been lookig for. Do you sell any reproductions of your posted pictures? Or, do you have a 3rd party that would be able to produce a large copy for framing? Also, are you located on Oahu? My wife’s Mom lives on Kamole Street so eventually we could pick it up rather than mailing ii to the mainland.

    • Hello Rob, thanks for your interest! Yes, I can have reproductions of these photos done on canvas if you would like. And yes, I am located on Oahu and so we could definitely arrange a drop off / pick up, it would definitely save on shipping. How big of a print were you thinking?

Comments are closed.