Kauai is famous for the Na Pali Coast; dramatic 3000 foot emerald green cliffs with waterfalls cascading down into the azure ocean below. The azure blue ocean is inviting, beautiful and pristine, but the waterfalls are magnificent; Kauai Waterfalls are abundant, amazing & awesome!
There are so many across the island that it’s hard to pick out a few. Naturally when it rains a lot, even more appear, or rather appear visible to the naked eye, especially when you are in Hanalei or Princeville : it seems as though there are 20 more waterfalls than before it started to rain.
What is it about waterfalls that inspire? Well they are examples of Mother Nature’s power and beauty. When they are large, they are indeed awe-inspiring or awesome because they carry such strength and true power.
So which waterfalls do you need to make sure you don’t miss?
Hanakapiai Falls are accessible only by doing the first two and a half miles of the Kalalau (Na Pali Trail) and then hiking back through the jungle to the falls. However, it’s so worth it! It’s 40 minutes or so to Hanakapiai beach and then an hour back to the Falls.
But then you are rewarded with a swim in a beautiful pool with the falls as your backdrop. Take a picnic and your camera! (like this girl)
The best way to get to these Falls is to kayak up the river. They are not huge, but they are really wonderful to get to and swim about. Not many people around. No guided tours or anything. Private, a lot more Secret than “Secret Falls”
These Falls are at Hanakoa, the 5 mile point in on the Na Pali Trail. Again, you have to hike back to get there, but beautiful!
Ho’opi’i Falls are a real favorite with the locals. It’s an easy 10 minute hike through easy jungle terrain. Actually there are two falls here.. the second one is further back. Most people are happy to hang out at the first set, as it’s pretty cool and locals and visitors alike jump into the water there. Hopi’i is fun and easy to get to which makes it a great choice for visitors to Kauai. Something you can do in an hour or two rather than some of the other falls which are more like a day or most of the day adventure.
Some adventurous people engage in more crazy activities, like this girl who is silking over the falls. Please don’t anyone try this; this is a trained professional with professional equipment and a support team!
Makaleha Falls are further back on the East side and you can actually do the hike at the end of Kahuna Road to get to them. It’s a tough hike mostly clambering over rocks, so only for the fit and adventurous but the falls are worth a visit! Awesome indeed.
Opaeka’a Falls are one of the easiest to visit on Kauai and the most impressive. Access is on the East side from Wailua. Straight up Kuamo’o Road and there is a car park now and a viewing point to view these amazing double Falls below.
You can actually hike down to the falls but there is now a sign warning people off as people have died doing it. There is one point on the hike where you are literally going vertical hanging onto a rope. Not for the faint hearted. But speaking personally, it’s quite something to experience being at the bottom of Opaeka’a Falls!
Uluweli Falls (Secret Falls)
These are the Falls that the tours go to that do guided kayak tours up the Wailua River. Lovely but when you do a guided tour, there’s usually a few more people and they don’t seem so Secret anymore!
Wailua Falls were made famous in that old TV show that most people nowadays have not even heard of – Fantasy Island. It’s easy to see these Falls. You drive through Hanamaulu towards Lihue and there’s a right hand turn which leads to the Falls. There’s limited parking but you can only view the Falls in any case, no hiking down. Pretty stunning though!
Bamboo Falls & Papakolea Falls
These are two falls accessible from near Lihue. There are tours that go up the Huleia River that will take you here. The guys over at Da Life Outdoors do a guided hike here to (or you can do their water rapelling adventure here too! )
Waialeale Falls (Weeping Wall)
Wailaleale is the Crater at the center of Kauai Island – officially the “wettest spot on Earth”. Yes, even more so than the Amazon Jungle. Best views of the famous “weeping wall” are from a helicopter ride and there are many rides to choose from. It is possible to hike there (as this photo shows) but it’s a long hike and only for the very fit and adventurous.
Hiking Kauai (guides based in Lawai) took this photo, thanks guys!
Manawaiopuna Falls (“Jurassic” Falls
Yes, these are the Falls made famous in Jurassic Park. The only way to get to these Falls up close and personal is to take a helicopter ride that goes there…. that’s Inter-Island Helicopters.
Kipu Falls has been a favorite of locals to go to for years. You can hike there in around 20 minutes and there’s a couple of rope swings to jump off from into the big pool there. In recent years though, people have been discouraged from doing this for safety reasons.
Stunning Falls cascading down into Waimea Canyon; it’s a different color scape to most of the Falls which are set against the green. These can be viewed from several vantage points in Koke’e and along the road at the top. Yet another abundant, amazing and awesome Kauai Waterfall!
The Ancient Hawaiians believed (and Hawaiians today) that water gives life, as all indigenous peoples. And so it does. Without the rivers and waterfalls, humans and most other species on the planet could not survive. The Hawaiian people would (and still do) chant a chant of thanks when crossing any body of river water. Gratitude and ceremony surrounded “wai” or water.
For me, you can still feel that energy alive in Hawaii and on Kauai; the reverence and respect that water is given. It’s almost palpable in the air. I’m thankful for the many gorgeous waterfalls on Kauai. Aloha!