Known as the Garden Island, Kauai’s impeccable green scenery is penetrated by numerous unforgettable waterfalls. The ability to view Kauai’s waterfalls varies in difficulty, from long hikes and cliff scrambling, to roadside viewing points with convenient parking. To view a beautiful waterfall with minimal effort, head to Ho Olalaea Waterfall.
Ho Olalaea Waterfall
Actually known as Opaeka’a Falls, this 151-foot waterfall cascades into the Opaeka’a Stream below, eventually joining the Wailua River before it empties into the Pacific Ocean. The viewing platform of one of our Kauai waterfalls is located across the valley from the waterfall, so views are distant, but still pretty. A grassy area and restrooms make this a picturesque place to stop for a picnic if you’re on the east coast. Head across the cross walk for expansive views of the Waimea River.
Book our Kauai Vacation Rentals Today!
When heading north on Kuhio Highway (Hwy 56) from Lihue, turn left in the town of Wailua on Kuamoo Road (580). Drive approximately two miles until you see a parking area and signage for Opaeka’a Falls on your right. The viewing area is located right along the parking lot.
In The Area
Opaeka’a Falls is located in close proximity to several other popular attractions. Pair your trip to Ho Olalaea Waterfall with a visit to nearby Wailua Falls. Wailua Falls is also easily accessible with the viewing point near the parking lot, though you will have a much closer view of this dramatic 173-foot waterfall. With the right timing, you can look down at a rainbow forming at the base of the falls.
Nearby Sleeping Giant is a popular hiking spot for visitors and locals alike. This is a family-friendly hike with three trail options all leading to the same summit. The family-friendly Kuilau Ridge Trail is also nearby and offers breathtaking valley views.
For a multi-sport adventure, try paddling up the Wailua River and hiking to Secret Falls. Kayak or stand up paddleboards can be rented near the river mouth, and this excursion can be done self-guided or through one of the tour operators that offer outings up the river. After paddling up river for about 45 minutes, you’ll pull your kayak up onto the riverbank and embark on a muddy forest hike, trekking for about 30 minutes. Although the hike covers flat terrain, it is known to be extremely muddy, particularly if it’s rained recently – which it usually has. The hike ends at the beautiful Secret Falls, where you can take a dip in the pool at the bottom. Despite the name, Secret Falls is far from secluded, and there will likely be others there at the time of your visit. However, that doesn’t take away from its beauty and feeling of adventure! Pack a picnic lunch to be enjoyed at the base of Ho Olalaea Waterfall and refuel before your return trek. Despite paddling with the current on the way back, the return trip can be more difficult due to headwinds. Staying as close to the outer edges of the river as possible can cut down on some of the wind resistance.
When you’re ready for some shopping or a bite to eat, head back toward the ocean to Kapa’a, Kauai’s east coast town with the widest variety of shops and restaurants. Lining the main road, you will find boutique shops, shave ice stands, and local restaurants in downtown Kapa’a. Stop in KIKO for unique gift-giving items and something for yourself, where you will find an eclectic mix of upcycled goods, locally made products, and artwork from local artists. Home décor, jewelry, books, candles, and other eye-catching items line the shelves.
You’ll find a wide range of cuisines based in Kapa’a, from Mexican to burgers to Thai. To eat like a local, stop in Pono Market to pick up something to be enjoyed at one of the nearby beaches. This eatery features local favorites such as fresh poke and laulau. Though there are many options for enjoying shave ice on the island, you will find one of the best in downtown Kapa’a. Wailua Shave Ice operates out of a food truck and crafts their creations with all-natural syrups and ingredients sourced by local farmers, such as lilikoi, mango, and coconut. The fresh taste of shave ice here will change your view on this refreshing local favorite treat!
There are many activities within easy proximity to Ho Olalaea Waterfall, so make a day of it on Kauai’s east coast!
We have nearly 30 rentals properties on Kauai’s north, east, and south shores. Staying at one of our east coast properties such as Banyan Harbor, Islander on the beach, Kaha Lani, Lae Nani, Kauai Beach Resort, or Pono Kai will put you in perfect proximity for enjoying the beauty of Opaeka’a Falls and other Kauai waterfalls. Contact us to make your vacation rental booking and to learn more about local activities.
Looking for Kauai Vacation Rentals? Click here!