Kaua‘i is an island of lush green vegetation, tropical jungles, exotic forests, and brilliant flowers. Home to one of the wettest spots on Earth (Mt. Waialeale and its 400” of annual rainfall), the island is blessed with light showers nearly every early morning and late evening. Combine this copious and predictable precipitation with rugged mountains and sweeping ridges and you have the perfect recipe for waterfalls, sometimes too many to count after a heavy rain. Some of Hawai‘i’s best falls can be found across Kaua‘i, from the roiling tumult of Waipo`o in Waimea Canyon to waterfalls immortalized on the silver screen to secret falls accessible only by boat. During your explorations be sure to stop (safely) on the side of the road to admire the many beautiful spontaneous waterfalls, and make it a point to visit the following popular waterfalls during your Kauai sightseeing excursions.
Kauai Waterfall Tour: Wailua Falls
The most popular and most visited waterfall on island, this tropical paradise was made famous by its use in the opening credits for Fantasy Island. Located in southeast Kaua‘i and easily accessible by car, the Wailua Falls tumble 80 feet over lava cliffs into a large pool that was once the site of a ritual act of bravery by Hawaiian boys who sought to prove their manhood by jumping from the cliffs and into the waters below. While this is no longer practiced (or allowed), you can hike to the beautiful pool (be warned, it is steep and muddy) and enjoy a leisurely swim in your own tropical grotto.
One of the more difficult falls to reach thanks to an 8-mile hike (round trip) along the Na Pali Coast, these falls drop 300’ into a pristine pool at the back of the first valley on Kaua’i’s North Shore. The trek follows the first 2 miles of the Kalalau Trail, rising and falling over the sharp ridges of the coast before crossing the Hanakapi`ai Stream at its secluded beach and heading inland. After departing the beach you will climb ~800 feet in elevation over 2 miles of stream crossings, heading deeper and deeper into the heart of the island until you finally reach your glorious destination. Well worth it, the trail is not recommended for novice hikers but is nowhere near as grueling as the rest of the Na Pali Coast, making it a great way to experience this famous hiking trail.
These 150-foot falls overlook the beautiful Wailua River Valley and are among the most accessible on island. Located a few miles above Līhu‘e on Hwy 580, a scenic parking lot and overlook provide Kauai sightseeing vistas of the falls, a nearby heiau, and the Wailua River. The falls get their name from the shrimp that used to be abundant in these waterways.
This majestic waterfall is visible from numerous vantages throughout Waimea Canyon. The two-tiered spires drop over 800’ to the canyon floor, against a backdrop of vibrant greens and reds. Several lookouts (Miles 10 and 13 are best) offer great views as you make the drive into the state park, and the Canyon Trail (2.7 mi) allows you to access the top of the falls, with stunning views of the canyon below. Take a dip in the cool pools of water, or opt for a thrilling helicopter tour which gets you up close and personal with a truly unique perspective of these famed falls.
Famous for their portrayal in Jurassic Park, these 400’ falls are located on private property and can only be viewed from the air by a private helicopter Kauai waterfall tour.
Also known as Secret Falls, Uluwehi is located on the Wailua River and accessible only by boat and a short 1-mile hike. The excursion is well worth it, both for the time on the river itself and the majestic 110’ cascade that forms a brilliant turquoise pool at the base of the cliff.