Natural Hawaii: The Best Waterfalls in Kauai

By: Brian Berusch

January 7, 2014

Mount Waialeale, the second highest point on the island of Kauai

On a rainy day on Kauai – and thankfully there are lots of rainy days here – you can head out for breakfast and see a waterfall spouting from the mountaintops within the island’s (mostly) unreachable interior. After some island exploring, you might find yourself returning back to your hotel just before dinner, when “it” happens. The waterfall you saw earlier is gone”¦ and two more have taken its place in completely new (albeit nearby) locations.


“Glass half full” people owe the charm and majesty of Kauai to it also being one of the “wettest places on earth” (there are parts that receive in excess of 800 centimetres of rain per year). Thankfully, there are plenty of places to get yourself in front of, underneath or hovering over some of these natural Hawaii wonders.


Hanalei Falls | The Best Waterfalls in Kauai

Dusk on the magnificent heights of Hanalei Falls © Linda Ching for HVCB

Hanakapiai Falls is on the famed Napali Coast trail. The hike here isn’t for the faint of heart; the first leg is 3.2 kilometres to Hanakapiai Beach. Once there, you follow the river away from the ocean and into the centre of the island, for another 3.2 km (for a total of 13 km round trip). En route you’ll find wild ginger, bamboo forest groves, guava and banana trees among others.


Wailua Falls | The Best Waterfalls in Kauai

Dive in to the expansive swimming area at Wailua Falls © Tor Johnson for HTA

Once at the 90 metre high falls, there is an expansive swimming area for enjoying the gush of water.

Possibly the easiest waterfall to reach on Kauai is the Wailua Falls, located just north of Lihue, and viewable from a roadside. Wailua may look familiar; it’s been the focus of dozens of films and TV show images.

Opaekaa Falls is also easily viewable, just a few miles up Route 580 from Wailia Falls. The twin cascades, once home to freshwater shrimp, makes for an impressive backdrop for photos.


Waterfall Cliff | The Best Waterfalls in Kauai

Experience the stunning scenery of waterfalls in Kauai © Tor Johnson for HTA

For those who are eager to dig into a full day’s adventure, you can attempt to head to the central region of Kauai – where the most rain falls on the isle – and Mt. Waialeale. Around its base are a number of waterfalls. Getting to these falls is approximately 16 km. The “Blue Hole Hike” is for experienced outdoors people, but ends with a wall of hundreds of cascading waterfalls.


Uluwehi Falls | The Best Waterfalls in Kauai

Go hiking or charter a helicopter to enjoy the views © Hawaii Tourism Japan

Or, if you’re more of a “take me there!” type, you can charter a helicopter (Blue Hawaiian has an excellent track record) to whisk you above the treetops yet beneath the cloud line to see as many falls as you can handle before it’s time to head to your evening luau.

Header photo: The Cascading Waterfalls of Mt. Waialeale © Heather Titus for HTA

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Have you discovered Kauai’s incredible waterfalls? Share your experiences with us in the comments below.

Written by Brian Berusch


Brian Berusch

Brian Berusch traded in his Manhattan gym membership for a quiver of surfboards, trail running shoes and a one-way ticket to Honolulu more than a decade ago. Since then, he’s interviewed dozens of celebrities and covered the destination for more than 25 travel and lifestyle magazines. He’s an award-winning Editorial Director, a Today Show correspondent and most recently the publisher of two new magazines. He has yet to “get barreled” in the perfect wave.

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