Best Kauai Waterfalls In Hawaii
These best Kauai waterfalls in Hawaii can be accessed by hiking, by car as well as by kayaking and by helicopter. Known as the Garden Isle, Kauai offers travelers several different choices to view vibrant waterfalls in a surreal tropical landscape. You can spend a day trekking in the Na Pali Coast area to the 300-foot Hanakapiai Falls where you can also relax on the Hanakapiai Beach. Wailua, Opaekaa and Ho'olalaea Falls can all be accessed by car and offer excellent photograph opportunities from a series of overlooks. To reach Uluwehi Falls or Secret Falls you must first travel by canoe or kayak before setting out a short hike. Manawaiopuna Falls was used as a backdrop in Jurassic Park and offers incredible tumbling water to watch from a seat while flying in helicopter. There is a perfect waterfall for you to visit and photograph in Kauai that will leave you with lasting memories of this tropical paradise.
Wailua Falls in Kauai
If you like to find yourself in paradise while viewing one of Kauai's waterfalls, then you need to visit Wailua Falls. Located in the southeastern portion of the island near Lihue, Wailua Falls was featured during the opening credits of the 1970s television show Fantasy Island. Wailua Falls are easily accessed from Ma'alu Road as the road winds through the surrounding mountains of the Wailua Stream Valley. The waterfall has two chutes that cascade over the lava cliffs some 80-feet into a large plunge pool. From the overlook you will think you are right next to Wailua Falls as the water roars into the poll below. There is a nice parking area at the overlook and a trip to Wailua Falls offers big views as well as great photograph opportunities.
Photo by Ame Rainey
Opaekaa Falls in Kauai
The Opaekaa Falls are one of the most accessible Kauai waterfalls for you to visit. Located in the eastern region of the island near Kapa'a, the Opaekaa Falls offer a stunning view of the surrounding tropical landscape. Opaekaa Falls are a short two-mile drive up Kuamoo Road as you are traveling on Highway 56 from Kapa'a. You will reach a overlook where you can park and the views of the 150-feet water drop is spectacular. The Opaekaa Falls usually has two or three chutes of cascading water in a large pool. The overlook boasts great views of the Wailua River which is the only navigable river on Kauai.
Photo by calamity_sal
Hanakapiai Falls in Kauai
Hanakapiai Falls is a stunning Kauai waterfall that requires a somewhat strenuous hike to reach. Located in the northwest region of the island near Hanalei within the Na Pali Coast area, Hanakapiai Falls has a picturesque setting and is a good challenge for moderate hikers. Hanakapiai Falls has a 300-feet drop-off of cascading water down a lava rock cliff which ends at a large pool which is perfect for soaking. In order to reach Hanakapiai Falls you must trek a 4-mile trail that is usually mucky and wet. The first 2-miles of the trail traverses several undulating valley until you reach Hanakapiai Beach. Swimming at this beach is not advised because of the strong currents. The last 2-miles of the hike are more strenuous with a total elevation gain of over 2,700-feet. The Hanakapiai Falls are well worth the effort of an 8-mile roundtrip journey and are consistently voted as one of the top ten waterfalls to visit while on Kauai.
Photo by paul bica
Secret Falls (Uluwehi Falls) in Kauai
Uluwehi Falls is also known as Secret Falls and is a fabulous Kauai waterfall that involves a short trip paddling on the Wailua River. Located in the southeastern portion of the island, Secret Falls is a spectacular waterfall that tends to attract crowds. To access Secret Falls many people take a tour guide who will paddle a canoe up the Wailua River or you can choose to paddle a kayak until you reach the trailhead. You will be thrilled with a short 1-mile hike that traverses the river several times but there is not much elevation gain on the hike to Secret Falls. As you trek the trail you will find a smaller unnamed waterfall that has a gorgeous tropical setting for photographs before you reach Secret Falls. Once at the falls you will watch the water cascade downward in this picturesque tropical landscape some 110-feet until it reaches a large pool of turquoise colored water.
Photo by Christopher on Flickr.
Ho'opi'i Falls in Kauai
If you are looking for a moderate hike to a Kauai waterfall, then you should definitely trek to Ho'opi'i Falls. Located in the eastern portion of the island near the town of Kapa'a, Ho'opi'i Falls are situated on the Kapa'a River and were used as filming backdrops for Jurassic Park. Ho'opi'i Falls are actually a series of two waterfalls with the upper falls having a drop-off of 15-feet into a nice pool of swimmable water and you can jump off the rocks for a thrilling dive. The second falls cascade some 30-feet downward into a pool of water that is ideal for swimming and there is a rope swing for added fun. Ho'opi'i Falls can be accessed by taking a 2-mile out and back hike that does not involve a large gain in elevation. The hike is suitable for all skill levels and is much different than most hikes on Kauai which tend to be very strenuous.
Photo by Kyle Pearce
Manawaiopuna Falls (Jurassic Park Falls) in Kauai
If you are a movie buff and like interesting views from the sky of Kauai waterfalls, then Manawaiopuna Falls also known as Jurassic Park Falls is a must see for you. Located in the south-central portion of the island within the Hanapepe Valley, the Manawaiopuna Falls are situated on private property and can only be accessed as well as viewed by helicopter. Manawaiopuna Falls was made famous when the waterfall was featured in numerous scenes as background in the movie Jurassic Park. This waterfall has a surreal setting and tumbles almost 400-feet downward from the top of the Kawaikini Mountains until reaching a large pool of water. Hiking to Manawaiopuna Falls is not recommended without permission from the Robinson Family who are the current owners. Most helicopter excursions on Kauai will pass by this impressive piece of natural landscape but very few have permission to actually land on or near the falls.
Photo by Cyril Fluck
Hanakoa Falls in Kauai
One of the least seen Kauai waterfalls is the Hanakoa Falls because many people including experienced hikers cannot make the trek along the Kalalau Trail. Located in the northwest portion of the island, Hanakoa Falls are situated within the Na Pali Coast State Park and can only be accessed after a 6.5-mile hike into the Hanakoa Valley. Hanakoa Falls are thought to have several tiers which could make this waterfall tumble down the cliffs some 1,000-feet. The falls are created by the Hanakoa Stream and if you are standing near the bottom of the falls you can only watch about 400-feet of the cascading water. To reach Hanakoa Falls you must hike the fabled Kalalau Trail for 6-miles. During your hike you will experience sharp drop-offs from exposed ledges along the numerous switchbacks. When you reach the Hanakoa Stream you will notice a small non-descript trail that you will follow for .5-miles until you reach Hanakoa Falls. The views of the Na Pali Coast are stunning from the Kalalau Trail and many people will choose to view the Hanakoa Falls while taking a helicopter tour.
Photo by Andrew K. Smith
Waipo'o Falls in Kauai
One of the more interesting Kauai waterfalls is Waipo'o Falls which can be seen from a variety of vantage points and can be accessed via a moderate hiking trail. Located in the northwest portion of island, Waipo'o Falls is situated within Waimea Canyon State Park. Waipo'o Falls are a spectacular two-tier waterfall which cascades 800-feet to the canyon floor. The sheer cliffs in which the water tumbles down offer a lush tropical background which is bright with many different vibrant colors of green. As you drive on Highway 550, you will get your first look at Waipo'o Falls as you pass mile marker 10 where you will find the Waimea Canyon Lookout. You will get your closet view of the waterfall at Pu'u Ka Pele Lookout which is located at mile marker 13. If you are ready for a hike then you can take the 2.7-mile Canyon Trail which will take you to the top of Waipo'o Falls where you will have expansive views of the Waimea Canyon and you can take a dip in the pools of water. Another exciting way that will give the best photograph opportunities is to take a helicopter tour which will get you very close to the falls.
Photo by Terence Wei
Ho'olalaea Waterfall in Kauai
The Ho'olalaea Waterfall is one of the most accessible Kauai waterfalls on the island. Located in the south-central region of the island near Kapa'a, the Ho'olalaea Waterfall is situated on the Wailua River and offers beautiful views of the Wailua River. The Ho'olalaea Waterfall is easily accessed by car and there is a nice parking area where you can view the two or three chute waterfall. During the rainy season the Ho'olalaea Waterfall has a series of chutes that cascade down the lava rock cliff into the Wailua River. Once you reach the overlook area, you will be pleased with the stunning views of the waterfall as well as the surrounding tropical landscape of the Wailua River. There are no known hiking trails to this Ho'olalaea Kauai waterfall and the overlook is some distance to the waterfall but you can still take plenty of photographs of the surreal landscape.