Waterfalls on Kauai: My Top 5 Picks

wailua falls
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Waterfalls on Kauai: My Top 5 Picks

I must be excited about the waterfalls on Kauai because I can only think about anticipating my visit to the Garden Isle! Besides all the wide-open spaces and amazing vistas, I can’t wait to hike to some of the island’s most incredible waterfalls.

So, I thought I would pull double duty and research the top 5 waterfalls on Kauai for my benefit and yours. Read on to find out which ones we picked:

1. Waipoo Falls:

To begin our Waterfalls on Kauai adventure, our family plans to make a day of Waimea Canyon, which means we can get a great view of Waipoo Falls. It’s a glorious 800-foot waterfall in Waimea Canyon, and you can see the falls from various lookout points along Highway 550, the road that takes you up to the museum and park. We might even try the Waipoo Falls Trail Hike, a 3.2-mile roundtrip hike just off the highway between mile markers 14 and 15. While we won’t see the falls up close in their splendor, the hike will take us through rain forests and canyon rims ending at the top of the waterfall in a Awaawapuhi Ginger-lined stream.

2. Hanakapiai Falls:

 According to poipubeach.org, you can find this waterfall after driving to the end of the road on Highway 56 and parking in the lot fronting Kee Beach. Then, you can head out on the 2-mile Hanakapiai Trail. This is a very popular trek on the island, so they suggest going early in the morning. For the first 2 miles you will be rewarded with spectacular views of the Na Pali Coast as you traverse on switchbacks along the coastline. Once you arrive at Hanakapiai Beach, it is an additional 2 miles upstream to the falls. The trail can be rough in spots, but the 300+ foot waterfall at the end of the tramp is worth the adventure. We do NOT recommend this experience for small children due to the terrain and difficulty of the hike.

3. Wailua Falls: 

Since well be staying in Poipu, not far from Lihue, you can be sure we’ll make a trek to Wailua Falls. It’s a double-tiered waterfall located just north of Lihue and the most easily accessible on Kauai. You can recognize the prestige of these falls because the 80’s hit show, Fantasy Island, used them in the opening credits. We definitely recommend this adventure for families with small children because it doesn’t involve any hiking. The views are just a short walk from the parking lot.

4. Secret Falls:

 Poipubeach.org says the waterfall is named Uluwehi Falls, but locals call it Secret Falls. It’s located on the East Side of Kauai and requires water transport to get to the falls’ trailhead, located up the Wailua River. You can travel via kayak or canoe, and there are several companies in the area that you can rent from. Or you can always book a guided adventure. Once you land your boat at the entrance to the trailhead, you hike up to the falls on a trail that can be extremely muddy and slippery. We do not recommend hiking boots. The website authors suggest either going barefoot, using sports sandals or tabis. If you travel at a relaxed pace, it takes about 45 minutes each way. The adventure is a great, family-friendly for children who don’t mind paddling up the river and getting dirty on the trail.

5. Opaekaa Falls: 

Like Wailua Falls, this majestic site is easily accessible and requires no hiking. Poipubeach.org advises you to turn up Kuamoo Road (580) from highway 56 and travel up the hill to the lookout that is located adjacent to the parking lot on the right-hand side. Families with children of all ages would enjoy Opaekaa Falls as the views can be seen from a brief walk from the parking area.

People call Kauai ‘The Garden Isle’ for a reason – it epitomizes lush and verdant island scenery. And, waterfalls are an important part of any Kauai adventure. This list certainly has me inspired to visit at least one of these top 5 waterfalls on Kauai — your turn next!

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