Wailua Falls and ‘Opaeka’a Falls are two of the most accessible falls you are able to view on Kauai, Hawaii. They are both breathtakingly beautiful in their own way, especially after heavy rains in the mountains. This week I decided to drive a few miles out of our way to check out both falls. We have had an exceptional amount of rain this week and so we knew the falls would be especially impressive. We were not disappointed.
This is a photo of what Wailua Falls typically looks like. It often has two streams overflowing the ridge. In fact, years ago our grandkids walked out to the top of it and looked over. A real Kodak moment.
This week, however, was a different view all together. Wailua Falls was putting on quite a show. This time when I picked up the kids from the airport and took them out to see it, their only comment was, “That’s a lot of water!” Indeed.
Wailua Falls is about 173 feet tall; taller than Niagara Falls! The pool is 33 feet deep. There used to be trails down to the base of the falls but unfortunately the paths have not been maintained and have been fenced off by the State for liability purposes.
To get to Wailua Falls, take highway 56 through the town of Hanama’lulu (just outside of Lihue). Watch for the signs and turn north onto Ma’alo Road. Wailua Falls is a short four miles from the turnoff. There is a small parking lot where you may park and then walk a short distance back to the railing with a view looking right down at the falls. It is a great stop to or from the airport or on your way from one side of the island to the other.
‘Opaeka’a Falls is a little further from the viewing area but definitely worth a stop. These 151-foot falls flow year round. Even with the rain they seemed to be flowing much like normal this week.
To view ‘Opaeka’a Falls turn toward the mountains from Highway 56 on the north side of the Wailua River (Kuamo’o Road). Drive about 3 miles until you reach the large parking lot on the right hand side of the road. Walk a short distance to view the falls. Across the road is a lookout for the Wailua River.
Up this same road, on the left hand side, before you reach ‘Opaeka’a Falls, you will find a heiau (sacred temple) called Poli’ahu. Legend states that it was built by Menehune, the legendary people of small stature, and was devoted to the interests and activities of the gods, demigods and high ali’i. There are lots of native and Polynesian-introduced plant species in the area, as well as a Wailua River Lookout.
Past the falls is the entrance to Kamokila Hawaiian Village, a 4 1/2 acre plot with numerous huts depicting early Hawaiian life. There is a small entrance fee.
So, if you want to see a waterfall up close and personal, be sure to check out these two sites before leaving the Garden Island. Your photos will be worth a thousand words!
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