Kauai has some of the most majestic waterfalls in Hawaii. Mostly, they’re tucked between mountains, only accessible by air, but Ōpaekaa Falls is one of the easiest to enjoy.
The double cascading waterfalls in Wailua can be viewed from a nearby vista about two miles up Highway 56. The falls flow over basalt from volcanic eruptions millions of years ago and into a hidden pool below. Back in the day, there used to be native freshwater shrimp tumbling down the into the churning waters of the fall’s base; hence the name Opaekaa, which in Hawaiian means “rolling shrimp.”
While the shrimp are long gone, the crowds aren’t, as the parking lot is always packed with people. It can be a good thing because that means this attraction is definitely worth seeing; bad, however, because of the lack of parking. Running amuck between the foot traffic are none other than those wild roosters. Kauai is famous for them.
Stopping for photos is a definite must. It’s best to go in the morning hours because by the afternoon, you’ll be pretty much shooting into the sun. Don’t forget to stop for some of the local goodies sold by roadside vendors. There’s a couple of aunties that sell mac nuts and mango bread. Tourists love the handmade coconut frond hats and baskets, too.
If those aren’t enough of a treat, then walk across the bridge to get a view of Wailua River below. Think of it as a two-for-one special! Two spectacular views of Hawaii, plus mango bread…I’m sold!
OPAEKAA FALLS • Wailua Homesteads, Kauai 96746 • Free parking but limited • Amenities: Restrooms