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The northernmost island of Hawaii, Kauai, has some of the most stunning scenery Hawaii has to offer. Dubbed the “garden isle”, it is home to beautiful mountainscapes and beautiful low valleys. Kauai has amazing outdoor activities such as kayaking, snorkeling, and hiking so visitors can truly explore the tropical rainforests, as well as cascading waterfalls. If you love nature, you will undoubtedly love Kauai.
If you are traveling to Kauai, you are going to want to visit these beautiful waterfalls.
Just north of the largest city on Kauai, Lihue is the impressive Wailua Falls. If you are nearby the Wailua River and happen to be traveling down the south end of it, then you will come into view of the Wailua Falls. In its entirety, the waterfall is very large with two cascading streams that drop about 170 feet down into the blue water basin below.
The two featured streams of Wailua are also known as Kauai’s “Twin Falls”. In fact, like many waterfalls on this list, Wailua has been used in several different movies. For example, the famous show Fantasy Island which aired in 1978 and ran into the 1980s, featured Wailua Falls in the opening credits.
Located in Opaeka’a Stream in Wailua River State Park, would be Opaeka’a Falls. This beautiful waterfall is located on the eastern side of Kauai Island, and it is well worth the trip. Due to volcanic eruptions many years ago, the falls run over large formations of basalt and then continue on to plunge over 150 feet down into the water basin below.
The word “Opaeka’a” means “rolling shrimp,” because at one time there were once abundant amounts of shrimp in the river that would subsequently tumble over the falls. To be clear, that is not the case anymore though.
If you wish to see Wailua Falls you must head up Kuamo’o Road and then enter when coming into view of the pullout for Opaeka’a Falls. We recommend going late morning, for a great view, or later at night for a picture-perfect “date night” idea.
Along with the world-renowned Na Pali Coast, is one of the most famous waterfalls on Kauai – Hanakapiai Falls. To start your trek on Kalalau Trail, you will find the signpost very close to Ke’e Beach and at the end of Kuhio Highway.
When beginning on this trail, it will take you on a 22-mile roundtrip journey. The trail will take you by Hanakapiai Falls and Hanakapiai Beach. Hanakapiai Beach has beautiful coastal views, with large cliffs. Shortly past the beach and green valley, is the bottom of Hanakapiai Falls.
The falls cascade down almost 200 feet into a great pool of water. The hike is very beautiful, and lush greenery surrounds the whole landscape. Of course, you can take in the views or even take a refreshing dip in the water basin.
Continuing onward from Hanakapiai you will reach another well-known waterfall on Na Pali Coast, called Hanakoa Falls.
As I said before, if you continue on the Kalalau Trail you will eventually meet Hanakoa Falls. For fair warning, this 11-mile trail hike is extremely difficult and at times, dangerous. Visitors will need a permit to hike this continued portion of the trail past Hanakapiai.
As you hike one of the most dangerous trails in the world, you will eventually come across multiple campsites where you can rest overnight. One campsite can be found by Hanakoa Stream and a more sizeable site a little further on.
While going along Kalalau Trail, there will be colored markers, making it easier for you to continue on the correct path. Finally, when you reach the falls, you will see the large waterfall that plummets 1,000 feet, down the cliffside.
Uluwehi Falls, also known as “Secret Falls”, is located on the eastern side of Kauai Island within the Wailua River Basin. Despite its name being secret, it is relatively very easy to access. The water that flows from Uluwehi comes from Mount Waialeale and drops about 100 feet. Mount Waialeale is the wettest spot in all of Kauai. After plummeting 100 feet into the basin below, the water travels down a stream and eventually connects to the Wailua River.
The Wailua River is one of the most beautiful spots in all of Kauai and allows visitors to have amazing views of both Nounou Mountain and the Fern Grotto.
The best way to see Uluwehi is by guided tour, including a 45-minute to an hour kayak ride up the river. After which, a 20-minute hike through the rainforest on the Wailua River Valley. After your journey, visitors can jump into the swimming hole to have a refreshing dip and a nice swim.
The waterfall lies on Kalalau Beach, at the finish of Kalalau Trail. While it can be long for some, it is marked and visitors find it pretty straightforward. That being said, prepare to spend some days on the trail, depending on your hiking ability.
The long trail is very worth it as it takes you through scenic views of the beach, caves, and lush greenery. When you reach Hoolea Falls, you will see the 100-foot waterfall cascade over volcanic rocks.
Would-be travelers need to secure a hiking and camping permit before their journey.
If you have ever seen the immensely popular blockbuster “Jurassic Park”, chances are you will recognize Manawaiopuna Falls. Featured in the opening scene of Jurassic, Manawaiopuna cascades 400 feet down Hanapepe Valley. It is most likely the most famous waterfall on the island of Kauai, and anyone will wholeheartedly enjoy this fall.
The falls are located on a private island, so being able to see them up close is a bit difficult. The best way to see the falls as of right now would be by helicopter tour, due to it being inaccessible by hiking or car.