Looking for the best Kauai waterfalls?
Kauai is Hawaii’s 4th largest island. It is sometimes referred to as “The Garden Island” for the natural beauty found within. What better way to get your fix of natural beauty than exploring some majestic waterfalls? Lucky for you, the island of Kauai is full of them.
There are many reasons why you may want to visit Kauai, Hawaii. Beautiful beaches, friendly locals, the gorgeous scenery are all part of the Hawaii experience. But, make sure the Kauai waterfalls are on your must-see list, as well.
Table of Contents
A Guide to the Kauai Waterfalls
Whether you’re looking for a strenuous hike or you want to just marvel at the natural beauty of the falls near your car, waterfall enthusiasts will definitely find their fix here.
So what are a few of the must see waterfalls in Kauai?
This waterfall is well-known for being visible from several viewpoints from Highway 550 – so you really have no excuse not to see it. This waterfall drops 800 feet down into Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. Located on the northwestern side of the island, this waterfall only flows during the wet season, so if you want to see this one then plan your trip accordingly.
If you drive along Highway 550, be sure to stop at the lookout points to get amazing views of the waterfall itself surrounded by the unique and gorgeous natural landscapes of the area. The highway will then lead you up to the museum and park, and if you decide to hike the Waipo’o Falls Trail, you’ll end at the top of the falls.
Located in Wailua River State Park, this Kauai waterfall is another must-see. This is one of the most beautiful waterfalls in Kauai, and also one of the most easily accessible.
This waterfall may look familiar because it was featured in the opening credits of the hit 80’s TV show Fantasy Island, and it’s easy to see why. This double-tiered waterfall is split into two streams of the Wailua River that fall 80 feet into the natural pools below.
There’s no hiking involved to get amazing views of Wailua Falls. Just drive up Highway 56 and you will eventually find the parking lot. After a short walk, you’ll be rewarded with incredible scenery that you won’t soon forget.
Pro Tip: arrive in the morning to try and catch a glimpse of a rainbow in the mist of the waterfall.
One of the most difficult waterfalls in Kauai to get to, this one involves a 4-mile round trip hike, but it’s worth it. Located on the Na Pali coast of the island, the Hanakapiai hike isn’t easy but it’ll show you some of the best scenery in Hawaii. This waterfall drops about 300 feet into the pools below and is surrounded by high cliffs and beautiful jungle landscapes, so be sure not to miss it.
If you decide to hike the Hanakapiai Trail to this waterfall, you’ll also pass the beach of the same name, so you’ll be able to cool off, relax, and take a dip in the middle of your hike if you so choose. If you’d like to learn a bit about the area, you can also take a guided tour to hear about the history and geology of the land surrounding these incredible falls.
Also located on the Wailua River, this Kauai waterfall is easily accessible from a parking lot off of Route 580 from Wailua. This waterfall drops 150 feet into the pool below, and you can watch the magic happen from a conveniently located viewing area. There are picnic tables and restrooms if you want to bring some food and hang out for a few hours.
If you’re looking for even better views, you can hike from the viewing area for about 30 minutes to another viewpoint. Fun fact: this waterfall was named after the shrimp that used to be plentiful here – Opaekaa literally means “rolling shrimp.”
Located on the Na Pali coast, this Kauai waterfall is almost 1000 feet tall, but only parts of it are visible from the viewpoints on the hiking trail. To get to these majestic falls, you’ll have to hike the Kalalau Trail – but be aware that you’ll have to get a permit if you want to hike all the way to the falls.
Nestled in between the incredible mountain scenery of the Hanakoa Valley, this incredible giant is worth the hike, even if you can only see parts of it due to the elevation changes and its sheer height. Arguably one of the most impressive waterfalls in Kauai, you won’t want to miss it.
Ho’opi’i Falls – A Hidden Gem
This Kauai waterfall is located a little more off the beaten path – literally! Located on the eastern side of the island where the only way to get to it is to follow an unmarked trail, this one won’t be packed with crowds like some of the others might be. Truly a hidden gem, the hike to this waterfall is roughly two miles but since it’s unmarked, it can be hard to navigate. Be sure to ask around and do some research before you attempt to find it.
This secluded 600-foot waterfall is surrounded by native flowers and wildlife, adding to the incredible scenery. You’ll want to soak up the time you have here, enjoying the peace and quiet where the only sound is the rush of the water. Even though it’s not super well-known, Ho’opi’i Falls does have a claim to fame: it was featured as a backdrop of Jurassic Park in the 90s, so it’s definitely worth a visit. Don’t forget your camera, as this is one of the most beautiful Kauai waterfalls!
These six Kauai waterfalls should be enough to whet your appetite to get out there and explore the beautiful scenery this island has to offer. Of course, there are many more, so if these aren’t enough, you have plenty of other options! Whether you’re looking for a hike to get your heart pumping with a magnificent reward at the end, or a drive-up waterfall where you and the family can have a picnic, there’s something for you on the island of Kauai.
Get out there and start exploring!