Discover the 11 Longest and Most Important Rivers and Streams in Hawaii

Hawaii is a stunning state made up completely of islands. With the largest island being 4,028 square miles and the smallest measuring just 44.6 square miles, many of the islands are somewhat small. Hawaii lacks one feature that most US states have in abundance, despite being surrounded by water: rivers!

In Hawaii, there are just 36 recognized rivers and streams according to the National Park Service. With 3,000 rivers, Alaska, the other non-continental US state, has the most of any state. Hawaii’s thirty-six rivers and streams are all quite modest in length. Most have a total distance of less than ten miles!

Read about the 11 biggest and most significant rivers and streams in Hawaii to get to know the state’s waterways. Find out about these fascinating bodies of water, their locations, and their functions!

What’s the Difference Between a River and a Stream?

Rivers and streams don’t really differ in terms of technology. In general, streams are bigger than creeks, and rivers are bigger yet. While the phrases can be used interchangeably, calling a body of water a “stream” usually refers to something smaller than a regular river. Hawaii has various streams that are lengthy but not very big, as you can see above.

1. Kalihiwai River

The stunning Kalihiwai River in Kauai County is the eleventh-longest river or stream in Hawaii. The river is around ten miles long, although it is somewhat narrow. It’s a lovely location to observe some of the local water life. It ends at the breathtaking Kalihiwai Falls. But since the falls are on private property, you’ll need to kayak nearby without going over the private boundary. It’s truly amazing to witness!

2. Koaie Stream

Ten miles long and breathtakingly gorgeous, the Koaie Stream is Hawaii’s longest river or stream. This ten-mile creek winds through the breathtaking Waimea Canyon. The creek is followed by a three-mile trail, but finding it involves a strenuous climb into the canyon. If you intend to explore this stream, be cautious to stay informed about local weather conditions as flash floods pose a serious concern in the area.

3. Hanawi Stream

Another stunning 10-mile stream that winds through Hawaii is the Hanawi Stream. The island of Maui is home to this creek. Driving is the best method to get to the breathtaking falls that are located at the stream’s terminus! The Hana Highway offers breathtaking scenery and some of the most breathtaking views on Maui. The stream’s surroundings are in excellent shape, making it a terrific place to see local plants and animals.

4. Lumahai River

The last 10-mile river or stream in Hawaii is called the Lumahai River. Northern Kauai is home to this lovely river. It ends at a breathtaking estuary after beginning in the mountains. The aforementioned image displays Lumahai Beach, a highly frequented tourist spot. It’s interesting to note that South Pacific was filmed on this beach!

5. Kapehu Stream

At 11 miles in length, the Kapehu Stream ranks as Hawaii’s seventh-longest river or stream. It is situated in Piihonua, close to Hilo, in Hawaii County. If you’re traveling onto the island of Hawaii, it’s not far from the Hilo International Airport, making it a simple stream to visit!

6. Kolekole Stream

The sixth-longest river or stream in Hawaii is called Kolekole Stream. It travels 12 miles among breathtaking wildlife and woodlands. Kolekole Beach serves as the stream’s mouth. Swimmers are welcome in the beach and stream. See the most breathtaking water display at the Akaka Falls following a rainstorm! Hawaii’s Big Island is home to the Kolekole Stream.

7. Palikea Stream

The Pipiwai Stream and Ohea Gulch are included in the twelve-mile Palikea Stream. It’s common to think of this stream system as a single, integrated body of water. Because it is home to the legendary “Seven Pools,” this stream system is a fantastic place to explore while in Hawaii. This creek flows through the Haleakala National Park, which is home to numerous trails.

8. Hanalei River

The fourth-longest river or stream in Hawaii is the breathtaking Hanalei River. This river travels sixteen miles across the island of Kaua’i. It flows from the peak of Mount Wai’ale’ale to Hanalei Bay, which is where the Pacific Ocean is located. Hanalei National Wildlife Refuge is bordered by the river, making it an excellent place to explore if you want to view Hawaii’s distinctive plants and animals.

9. Wailuku River

The Wailuku River is Hawaii’s longest river, yet it comes in third place. The Wailuku River is the longest river in the state at 28 miles, while there are two streams that are longer. Numerous waterfalls, such as the Rainbow Falls and the Boiling Pots, may be found throughout the river’s course. The river has an extreme slope; in 28 miles, it drops from 10,800 feet above sea level to the actual sea level.

10. Paheehee Stream

Honomu on the Big Island is home to Hawaii’s second-longest river or stream. The Paheehee Stream is that. There are some amazing aquatic animals swimming in the water of this 29-mile stream. The Paheehee creek Bridge spans the Hamakua Coast and is 225 feet above the creek.

11. Honolii Stream, 32 miles

The Honolii Stream is Hawaii’s longest river or stream. It’s 32 miles long and situated on Hawaii’s Big Island. It’s a beautiful stream near Papaikou, which is conveniently close to Hilo. The stream is quite stunning, with exquisite plants and animals. A great place to swim is the Honolii Beach, which is located at the mouth of the Honolii Stream.

In summary

Hawaii is home to some amazing rivers and streams! The waterways of the Hawaiian islands are amazing and significant, even though they are smaller than some of the rivers in the continental United States. Numerous endangered species and important island fauna can be found in these rivers and streams. The top 10 rivers and streams in the state of Hawaii are listed here!

River/Stream Length
Kalihiwai River 10 miles
Koaie Stream 10 miles
Hanawi Stream 10 miles
Lumahai River 10 miles
Kapehu Stream 11 miles
Kolekole Stream 12 miles
Palikea Stream 12 miles
Hanalei River 16 miles
Wailuku River 28 miles
Paheehee Stream 29 miles
Honolii Stream 32 miles