Kauai, the northernmost major Hawaiian island is nicknamed the Garden Island. With plenty of rainfall, the island is lush, green, and home to some beautiful waterfalls! Whether you are vacationing in Kauai or taking a travel healthcare contract, checking out some of the beautiful waterfalls on the island are a must do! Here are my must see waterfalls in Kauai!
‘Opaeka’a Falls is completely accessible to view by car and is one of the easiest waterfalls to see on this list. The scenic viewpoint is a 2-mile drive up route 580 on the east side of the island. There is ample parking at the viewpoint and even a bathroom on site! This is a waterfalls that everybody in the family can see!
Fun fact: ‘Opaeka’a means “rolling shrimp” in Hawaiian language. Apparently this waterfall was named after the ample shrimp that were in the stream!
Wailua Falls is also accessible by car, although it is a bit more windy of a drive than ‘Opaeka’a Falls. To access Wailua Falls, you traverse about 3 miles on a windy, narrow road. The falls is located at the end of the road, where there is limited parking. I’ve been there twice, and both times, there was a traffic parking jam as people tried to get a parking space. Once you find parking, there is a railing where you can stand and observe the beautiful falls.
Located to the right of the viewpoint, there is a hike that will take you to the bottom of the falls. I have not done the hike and read that it was illegal. There is more information about the hike here: All Trails.
Waipo’o Falls is located in the stunning Waimea Canyon! Waimea Canyon, known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is a must see in Kauai. Waipo’o Falls is viewable from multiple scenic lookouts on canyon road in Waimea. This waterfall is a further drive than the first two on this list. It is more than a ten mile drive through windy roads on route 550 in Waimea Canyon. This drive can easily take 30-45 minutes and is often rainy and cloudy.
You can view Waipo’o falls from a marked scenic viewpoint with parking and bathrooms. This scenic viewpoint has wonderful views, not only of the falls, but of the whole canyon. You can also pull over at several spots on the canyon road to see Waipo’o Falls from different angles. For the adventurous, there is a hike to take you to the falls. More information on the hike here: All Trails.
Secret Falls is aptly named, as it is quit hidden. Located off of the Wailua River, you need to kayak down the river to the trailhead, and then hike a 1.5 mile trail to reach the falls. The trek to Secret Falls is very beautiful and the waterfall itself is stunning! It definitely takes some physical endurance to reach this falls, and a bit of a sense of adventure! Definitely wear shoes that are comfortable for the water and fast drying. You will be forging small portions of streams to get in and out of the hike. Also, wear old clothes, as the trail tends to be very muddy.
Multiple companies run kayak and hiking tours to Secret Falls. Personally, I used Kayak Kauai and recommend them. Our tour guide, Doc, provided a great detailed history of the area and pointed out unique plants and birds on the tour. Kayak Kauai provided a bagged lunch, bottles of water, and a dry bag for our belongings. Using a tour was a great way to see Secret Falls, without the stress of doing it yourself.
I hope that this piece has inspired you to chase some beautiful waterfalls in Kauai! Do you have any waterfalls in Kauai that didn’t make this list? Share in the comments: