14 Best Kauai Waterfalls & Hikes to Check Out

Updated: 05/14/22 •  8 min read
USA » Hawaii
Wailua waterfalls Kauai

Are you itching to get away and explore some of the most beautiful natural locales you can find? If so, you’re in luck!

But you really need to hit the ground running if you want to see as much of that natural beauty as possible in the time you’re there.

Whether you’re looking for day trip ideas or extended backpacking excursions, we’ve got all of the details on some great spots to check out.

This post will give you the information you need about some of the best waterfalls in Kauai.

Easy Waterfall Hikes in Kauai

If you enjoy spending time outdoors and exploring new places, then there are a few waterfalls and hiking trails that may pique your interest.

Let’s dive into some of the most breathtaking waterfall hikes on Kauai:

1. Waipo’o Falls

Waimea Canyon is one of the most iconic landmarks on Kauai, and for good reason!

The canyon is a stunning example of nature’s beauty, with its red cliffs, lush vegetation, and also home to a magnificent 800-foot waterfall.

One of the best ways to experience the canyon is to hike the Waipoo Falls Trail.

This 3.2-mile roundtrip hike takes you through the rainforest and along the rim of the canyon, with several lookout points for photo ops.

The trailhead is located just off Highway 550 between mile markers 14 & 15.

And while you won’t get up close and personal with the cascading waters, it’s still an easy waterfall hike in Kauai that shouldn’t be missed.

Waterfall Queens bath kauai hawaii
Queen’s Bath Photo by dronepicr

2. Queen’s Bath

For all you adventurers out there, The Queen’s Bath Trail is a must-do on your list.

The natural tidal pool is filled with water from a stunning 15-foot waterfall, and the views of the Pacific Ocean are simply incredible.

Easily accessible and just 0.8 miles round-trip, this hike is perfect for those who love getting their sweat on.

The hike starts out easy enough, but the rocks can be especially slippery, so make sure to be careful!

Once you reach the waterfall at the end of the trail, you’ll know that you made the right decision.

Moderate & Difficult Waterfall Hikes in Kauai

3. Hanakoa Falls

The Kalalau Trail is an 11-mile hike that takes you along the Na Pali Coast to the base of the 1000-foot Hanakoa Falls.

The trail is steep and challenging, but those who have conquered it say that it’s well worth the effort.

This amazing trail will take you on an all-day adventure; you must start early in the morning to avoid the crowds and make sure to wear proper shoes and bring plenty of water with you.

At the end of your journey, take a dip in the beautiful Hanakapiai Beach.

4. Hoolea Falls

Hoolea Falls is located at the end of the Kalalau Trail, which offers hikers stunning views of the Na Pali Coast.

This trail is well-marked and relatively easy to follow, although it is quite long and challenging terrain.

At the end of the hike, hikers are rewarded with the sight of 100-foot Hoolea Falls.

5. Hanakapiai Falls

The Hanakapiai Falls hike is definitely not for the faint of heart, but the rewarding views are definitely worth it.

Drive down to the end of Highway 56 to reach the trailhead.

The first half of the trek is along an easy-to-traverse path that winds through some really beautiful scenery, with stunning views of the Na Pali Coast to keep you company.

The second half of the hike entails switchbacks and a steep climb before arriving at the 300-foot waterfall at the end of the trail.

Be sure to go early in the morning to avoid the crowds, and wear appropriate shoes – this trail can be rough in spots.

So if you’re looking for a challenging hike with an incredible payoff, be sure to add the Hanakapiai Falls hike to your Kauai itinerary.

Secret Falls aka Uluwehi Falls
Secret Falls Photo By mikepmiller

6. Uluwehi Falls (Secret Falls)

Kauai is renowned for its natural beauty, and Secret Falls is one of the island’s not-so-best-kept secrets.

To reach the falls, you’ll need to take a canoe or kayak up the Wailua River and then hike for about 45 minutes along a slippery, muddy trail.

But trust us, it’s worth it!

The falls are truly stunning, and the whole family will enjoy this fun adventure.

Just be sure to pack your camera, as you’ll want to capture this incredible experience.

7. Waialeale Falls

Waialeale Falls, also known as the “Blue Hole,” is one of the most beautiful and difficult hikes on Kauai.

The 5-mile (one way) hike takes you to the center of the island, which is considered one of the wettest spots on earth.

The Falls are an amazing sight, but the hike can be dangerous due to flash floods.

Hiking safety is no joke – this trek is meant for experts and take all necessary precautions before embarking on this adventure!

8. Hoopi Falls Trail

Hoopi Falls is an out and back trail that’s only 1-mile each way, but it’s a moderate hike with a few challenging sections if the trail is wet.

The reward for completing the hike is a small but beautiful 20-foot waterfall.

Most people only venture to the upper falls when they come here, but what they’re missing is the best part!

Continue downstream on the trail for 20 minutes to reach the lower falls; there are far fewer crowds here.

So if you plan on hiking here, don’t stop at the upper falls – continue on to discover the hidden gem of the lower falls.

Tip: Hoopi Falls is one of the best waterfalls in Kauai to take a dip in so remember to bring your bathing suit!

9. Hinalele Falls

If you’re looking for a tranquil waterfall that’s off the beaten path, Hinalele Falls is the place to go.

Fed by the Wainiha River, this natural wonder is usually not featured on most helicopter tours of the island, making it one of a kind.

Due to its secluded location and dense forest, it’s not recommended for those who are looking for an easy hike.

As far as waterfalls go, Hinalele Falls is definitely one of the hidden gems on Kauai!

Waterfalls in Kauai (No Hiking Needed)

Love nature but don’t have the time nor energy to go on a hike? There are plenty of waterfalls on Kauai that don’t require hiking at all, here are our top picks:

10. Opaekaʻa Falls

If you’re looking for a breathtaking view without having to put in any hard work, check out Opaekaʻa Falls.

This picturesque waterfall is located just a brief walk from the parking area, making it easily accessible for all visitors, including children.

With views of the Wailua River Valley, it’s no wonder this spot is so popular with photographers.

If you’re looking for a more secluded experience and don’t mind taking a little bit of extra time, be sure to check out the trailhead nearby.

It’s only a 30-minute walk and you can enjoy the stunning views without the crowds.

11. Wailua Falls

With its crystal clear waterfall, lush greenery and calming sound of flowing water, Wailua Falls is a paradise for nature lovers.

Adrenaline junkies need not apply – this waterfall is perfect for those who just want to relax and take in the beauty of nature.

There is no hiking involved and the falls are just a few steps from the parking lot.

Leave your boots behind and enjoy the views!

12. Kalihiwai Falls

If you’re driving through Kauai, you can admire the majestic Kalihiwai Falls from the side of the highway.

But don’t be fooled by the roadside accessibility – this waterfall is located on private property and can only be viewed up close by taking a guided tour offered by Princeville Ranch.

The falls are located in a lush and remote jungle setting, and the only way to get there is via horseback.

The tour offers stunning views of the Kalihiwai River as it winds its way through the jungle, and the waterfall itself is a sight to behold.

Manawaiopuna Falls
Manawaiopuna Falls Photo By Katie

13. Manawaiopuna Falls

If you’re a fan of Jurassic Park and a thrill-seeker, you’ll love Manawaiopuna Falls.

This 400-foot natural wonder is located deep in the interior of Kauai and can only be reached via a helicopter tour.

Fly over top of it and see how the smooth cascades plunge into a crystal-clear pool.

The view is absolutely breathtaking, and the journey there is nothing short of a once-in-a-lifetime event.

Definitely a must-visit on any Kauai itinerary!

14. Kipu Falls

Kipu Falls has been closed to the public for years, due to the numerous deaths that have occurred there.

Located on private property, this landmark has gained a reputation as being one of the most dangerous hikes in Hawaii.

However, you can still check out the waterfalls in this area on a tour with Kipu Ranch.

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