*Editors Note: This trail is on a private property, so please hike at your own risk. And like everything else, take caution when exploring Hawaii’s outdoors. Jumping off of a waterfall may result in serious injury or sadly, death. Be safe on your next trip to Hawaii.
A narrow dirt trail, lined on either side with eight-foot-tall grass, makes you feel like you’re on an adventure in the Hawaii islands. There are at least seven breakouts that might have you thinking you are lost, but persevere and seven minutes later, you will walk right up to the falls. As the Huleia Stream glides towards Nawiliwili Bay, it gathers at Kipu Falls near Puhi on the island of Kauai.
One wet, seven-year-old girl excitedly walked past us and exclaimed to her mom, “That was so much fun! We’ll definitely have to come back!” Her mom, also wet, said she jumped from the 30 foot cliff twice. The falls crash down in great plumes as grandpas, children, young adults and mothers line up for the plunge into the pool below. As one after the other jump, you hear a “YooHoo!” followed by a big splash.
A middle-aged man crosses himself before carefully crossing the steam, which can get waist high, and walks to the an enormous Banyan tree. Its sturdy branches drip down to the jungle floor like melted wax. A massive canopy provides shade. The roots snake around lava boulders and it is within these roots, on an outcropping, that people swing from a rope into the pool. Men become boys and jump after jump, they grow more daring. Having climbed the tree, a slender man with greying hair contemplates as his friends call out. “Jump! Jump!”
Returning from the plunge faces peek above the metal ladder plastered with smiles. Sons smile down at their fathers in the pool below, pride and love reflected on their faces, and scamper off to make the plunge. Families sit on the warm lava rocks in the sun and eat lunch while drying off. Everyone is having a grand time.
Know before you go
The rocks are very slippery so wear water shoes. Bring sunscreen, water and bug juice. As with any fresh body of water in warm climates, a bacteria called leptospirosis may be present, especially after heavy rains. If you happen to get a cut make sure you wash it thoroughly.
Take Highway 50 west just past Puhi, turn left at mile marker 3 onto Kipu Road. Follow to the right and make a left onto the dirt road just before the bridge.
Photo by Daniel Lane.