Majestic waterfalls can be found all over Kaua`i. From off the beaten path falls on the Na Pali Coast, to hidden falls in residential areas on the east side, to popular tourist sights, waterfalls can be found in a variety of heights, forms, and locations. Here’s my three top picks for waterfalls on the Garden Island.
Up behind Kapa`a lies Ho`opi`i Falls, two hidden falls along a somewhat mellow river that is perfect for a long stroll through the forest. Located on Kapahi Road, which can be seen on Google maps, the falls are nestled behind a residential area, adding to the need for quietness and respect of the area when parking to head to the falls.
Both waterfalls are rather small, but the wonderful thing about them is the entire walk, or low impact hike, that makes the experience into a trek along the Kapa`a Stream though the forest. You may see a local resident or two walking the dog along the trail, and just wave and say hi. During the initial descent down the trail look for passion fruit, or lilikoi on the ground. If you find one in good condition give it a try.
Once down on the stream, the tall tree canopy allows rays of sunlight through, making for a sparkly morning and afternoon to explore the forest and falls. Mosquitos can be heavy here, so bring spray or you may regret it. Follow the river down stream and the well worn path is hard to miss. This isn’t a great place for swimming, although some locals do brave it.
Well known Wailua Falls are well known for a good reason – they’re amazing! The drive up the road is gorgeous itself, with acres and acres of bright green grassy pastures on either side. Up at the falls there’s a rock wall separating visitors from the edge of a cliff high above the pool below the double falls. They falls are quite impressive, said to be about 150-feet high with thick cascading water falling into a nearly perfectly round pool far below.
Try a few different angles for photos. The hedge in front of the wall can hinder pictures a little bit, but moving around is a great help. Right above the overlook is where local artisans often sell hand made palm frond hats and other crafts.
Out on the dry west side, deep in the Waimea Canyon lies Waipo`o Falls. A surprise at the end of the Canyon Trail, which is a moderately strenuous two to three hour hike, the falls and pool below that is ideal for a refreshing swim is worth the effort.
After parking at the Pu`u Hinahina Lookout between the 13 and 14 mile marker in Koke`e State Park, you’ll be treated to amazing vistas along the trail. Look for goats enjoying the forest and don’t forget the camera for spectacular canyon views. The upper falls has a perfectly swimmable pool, and here you’ll be above the lower falls that cascade about 800-feet down.