Chasing Waterfalls on Kauai (Kauai, Hawaii)

I love Hawaii, and Kauai has some of my favorite things on any of the Hawaiian islands. Kauai is called the Garden Isle, which I think is what makes its waterfalls so spectacular–they are surrounded by lush vegetation.  Here are some of my favorite waterfalls on Kauai:

#1 Opaekaa Falls

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There’s no hiking required to see Opaekaa Falls–you can drive right to it, making it very easily accessible.  Opaekaa Falls is part of the Wailua River and is located right outside of Kapa’a.  This part of the island is so gorgeous, with the Wailua River winding around the lush mountains which create verdant valleys and hills.  To get to the waterfall, take highway 56 (the main drag that goes around the island) to highway 580.  About 2 1/2 miles up the road, you will come straight to the falls.

Here is the beautiful river valley:

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#2 Wailua Falls

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Now this is truly a drive-up waterfall.  The road leads you all the way to the point where this picture was taken, right to the falls.  The sunlight on the falls creates a vibrant rainbow near the pool.  You are not allowed to get in the pool of this waterfall or hike down to it due to safety, but it’s truly spectacular to view it from above.  Wailua Falls is also part of the Wailua River and is actually very close to Opaeka’a Falls as the crow flies, but because of the moutains, you’ll have to drive a little farther to get there.  From highway 56, take highway 583 for about four miles, and you’ll come right to the falls.

#3 Waipoo Falls

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Waipoo Falls is in Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”  It is a striking 800 feet and is two-tiered.  This waterfall is perfect because you can see if from your car (pictured above) but can also hike to it.  From your car, you will be able to view it from across the canyon, giving you panoramic views of the waterfall amidst the colorful canyon.  You can get plenty of views from the road of this waterfall from highway 550, which goes through Waimea Canyon.

You can also hike to the waterfall.  You will need to take Canyon Trail to get to the waterfall.  You will also need to take a connecting trail to get from the road to Canyon Trail.  Black Pipe Trail is the most direct route.  The trail takes you up to the top of the canyon on the opposite side of the road.  The hike getting to this point was very pretty.  While you don’t get a whole lot of views of the canyon, you do get to walk through some pretty vegetation. Here is some on the way:

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Here is what it looks like when you get to the top of the canyon on the opposite side of the road:

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Now, it doesn’t look scary from this picture, but when we were here, it was just starting to rain, and the rest of the trail to the waterfall was downhill on dirt like you see above.  We were a little bit worried about slipping and flash flooding, so we decided to turn back at this point and not go to the waterfall.  You do need to be careful when hiking in Kauai, as flash flooding and mudslides can occur.  Make sure to wear hiking boots with a good grip.  If you are able to make it to the waterfall safely, I’m sure it is spectacular!

#4 Secret Falls

Heading back to the Wailua River region is Secret Falls, the only one of these four which is not accessible by car.  When you get there, you will see that it’s not really a secret.  There will be many other people there with you.  I think it’s called Secret Falls because it’s only accessible by way of the Wailua River, which makes it kind of special.  We kayaked to the trail.

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When you get to the trailhead, you can park your kayak on the side of the river and take a quick walk through this gorgeous region to get to the falls.

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If you are wanting a waterfall you can swim in, this one’s for you!

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Make sure to wear some kind of water shoes.  The bottom of waterfall pools is always rocky and slimy.  Nevertheless, swimming in waterfalls is a pretty awesome experience.

I will be posting more detailed information about how to get to Secret Falls soon, but for now, here is a map of where the waterfall is.

Have fun chasing waterfalls and finding your own to add to the list.  As you’re driving around Kauai, never forget to look up, as you will probably find your own hidden waterfall somewhere on the moutains!

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