Kauai is truly paradise on Earth. It is renowned for its beauty and one of the features that make the island so incredible is the stunning Kauai waterfalls across the island.
This guide will detail some of the most famous waterfalls in Kauai that you can visit on your trip (and one you can not visit currently).
Did we miss any amazing waterfall hikes in Kauai? Let us know in the comments! Thanks!
Prettiest Kauai Waterfalls
Wailua Falls is one of the many Kauai waterfalls that you need to add to your Kauai itinerary! The falls split into two separate falls and plummet 173 feet into crystal clear water.
During the 1970s and 1980s, the falls were featured in the opening credits for the television series, “Fantasy Island”. It remains one of the most popular Hawaiian waterfalls!
One of the biggest draws to Wailua Falls is that it is located right next to a parking lot so you don’t need to do an excruciating hike to get there. It is easily visible to all travelers and that really makes it a worthwhile and easy visit!
On the eastern side of the island of Kauai in Wailua River State Park, you’ll come across Opaeka’a Stream.
Located on that very stream is Opaeka’a Falls, one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Kauai. This waterfall runs over basalt that was created from volcanic eruptions many years ago.
The falls are 151 feet tall and 40 feet wide and it cascades into a hidden pool.
The name of the falls means “rolling shrimp” in Hawaiian. This name dates back many years to when freshwater shrimp lived in the river and went tumbling over the falls.
This waterfall is also one of the most accessible waterfalls on the island.
After a two-mile hike along the Waipo’o Falls trail, visitors will come upon the majestic Waipo’o Falls.
The trail starts on the rim of the Halemanu Canyon and gives hikers a view of the canyon and the beautiful Kokee Rainforest. The top of this waterfall is a beautiful end to the trail as well as a fragrant one!
Awapuhi Ginger lines the stream that leads to the 800-foot drop of the Waipo’o Falls. Keep your eyes open for more than just the falls as wild goats are native to the area.
If you hit up this area during the dry season, you may not see much water flowing down. I was even here during the wet season (winter) and I actually didn’t see a lot of flow.
Hikers need to be sure to do their research before hiking to this gorgeous waterfall!
Mount Waialeale Falls
At an elevation of 5,148 feet lies Mount Waialeale. This is one of the highest spots on the island of Kauai and one of the wettest places in the world!
Since 1912, the island has averaged more than 372 inches of rain a year. That’s more than thirty-one feet of rain!
Mount Waialeale Falls is difficult to get to. There isn’t a marked trail, and it is easy to get lost along the way.
If hikers do find the falls, they can witness one of the most mind-blowing views of their life! The falls cascade at least 2,950 feet!
Please note that hiking here is dangerous or nearly impossible due to the wet ground. The best way to really see this (in my opinion!) is by taking a helicopter tour of Kauai!
Hanakoa Falls is one of two waterfalls located along the world-famous Na Pali Coast. The other is Hanakapi’ai Falls (mentioned below). Hanakoa Falls is the taller of the two at 1,000 feet.
The falls are located about halfway down the Kalalau Trail and can unfortunately only be seen in partial tiers due to elevation changes and the natural surroundings.
The hike to the falls is about 6 miles long and does require a permit. Lace up your boots and grab your camera!
The smaller of the two falls along the Na Pali Coast is Hanakapia Falls. To get to these falls, you will need to endure an approximately four-mile hike down the Hanakapia Falls Trail.
However, two miles into the hike, hikers find themselves at Hankapiai Beach which is known for its exceptional beauty, huge waves, and high difficulty level surfing.
Past the beautiful Kauai beach and at the end of the trail lies the Hanakapia Falls. The drop is 300 feet into the emerald, green depths of a pool below.
Kalihiwaii Falls is a stunning, multi-tiered waterfall on the Kalihiwai River. The river lies on the north-central coast of Kauai between Kilihiwai Bay and the town of Princeville.
The falls are best accessed starting at the Princeville Ranch. The ranch offers great information on the area’s geology, wildlife, and history.
The hike itself isn’t hard and can even be accessed via horseback riding tours. With an 80-foot drop, these falls are sure not to disappoint those who visit!
Red Dirt Waterfall
Most of the waterfalls in Kauai are lush and mixed in with vibrant green scenery… but not the Red Dirt Waterfall. As its name suggests, this waterfall can be found amongst a lot of … red dirt!
It is situated in the Waimea Canyon and is small, but absolutely worth a stop on your canyon road trip.
The red soil is natural and is a result of the iron-rich basalt rocks inside of the Kauai canyon and over time, this has oxidized, giving the area such a brilliant red hue.
You can find the small waterfall around the 23-mile marker on Waimea Canyon Drive (if you head in from Waimea town). Just be sure to wear appropriate shoes!
Kipu Falls is one of the most dangerous falls among the Kauai waterfalls despite being only twenty feet high. A deep pool lies below the falls.
There were five deaths over five years as well as multiple reported injuries at the falls, so do proceed with extreme caution!
Due to the danger to visitors, the owners of the land the falls are on, Grove Farms Company, blocked off the access route to the falls and closed them to the public.
People who visit the falls are trespassing, so be prepared for possible legal ramifications. While this is a gorgeous waterfall, it is not one that you can currently visit.
Uluwehi Falls, or “Secret Falls”, is difficult to get to if traversed alone. Heavy rainfall and harsh winds can impact this journey, so proceed with caution. Taking a tour is highly recommended.
The falls are located on the Lower Wailua River and require a kayak or canoe ride followed by a muddy hike in order to visit them. I did this hike and it was extremely easy, even after kayaking all the way there (around 2 miles by kayaking to the trailhead).
Visitors up to the challenge of taking the ride and the hike are rewarded with a 100-foot drop waterfall into a jaw-dropping pool surrounded by lush vegetation.
Disclaimer: There is nothing ʻsecretʻ about this waterfall. It just requires a bit of effort to get to and hundreds of others will tackle the challenge daily.
Located near Kapa’a in Kauai along the Ho’opi’i Falls Trail lies Ho’opi’i Falls. This trail is over a mile and a half long and allows visitors to take dogs as long as they are leashed.
The falls are a set of two. The Upper Ho’opi’i Falls is about a fifteen-foot drop that people enjoy jumping off and plunging into the pool below. This is the more popular of the two.
The Lower Ho’opi’i Falls is a thirty-foot cascade about a mile downstream. The lower falls were featured in the 1993 hit movie “Jurassic Park”. If it’s worth being in a movie, it’s worth hiking to see!
Hoolea Falls is situated in a gorgeous location between the Na Pali-Kona Forest Reserve and Na Pali Coast State Park, the most famous state park on Kauai. The view attracts many visitors to both the falls and the area.
The falls are located at Kalalau Beach at the end of an eleven-mile hike on the Kalalau Trail. This is quite the distance to travel and can take visitors a few days to get to, depending on their pace.
If your determination is there, the 200-foot Hoolea Falls awaits and it is absolutely spectacular.
Did we miss any beautiful Kauai waterfalls that should be on this guide?
Leave us a comment with your top picks for waterfalls in Kauai below. Thanks!
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Megan is a travel blogger and writer with a background in digital marketing. Originally from Richmond, VA, she has been traveling frequently to Hawaii for the last 15 years and loves exploring every corner of each Hawaiian island, while trying to promote sustainable travel and small, local businesses along the way. Megan has written for or been featured by National Geographic, Forbes, Lonely Planet, the New York Times, and more. She has co-authored a guidebook with Fodor’s Travel and has visited 45 US states and 100+ countries.