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Waterfalls in Northeast Kauai

Waterfalls in Northeast Kauai


avatar   Stacy
Trip Date 08/17/2017
Posted On 05/14/2018 17:03:52

Destinations | Hawaii | Kauai | Hiking | Ho'opi'i Falls | Opaeka'a Falls Lookout | Secret Falls



Although sad to be leaving Maui, we are excited for our upcoming week in Kauai. Before our westbound flights from our Austin home, we made preliminary plans to navigate around as much of the island as we possibly could - with specific emphasis on areas we had not previously visited.

If you have access to transportation and are up for a hike (medium difficulty) to some cascading waterfalls, take a look below for ideas either for a half day or full day itinerary in northeast Kauai. Depending on your choice of hikes, the day can be absolutely cost free - other than the cost of fuel for your car!

Goodbye Maui, Hello Kauai!

As we headed toward the airport, we were reminded once again of one reason why we have a Costco Wholesale membership. Although fuel prices were significantly higher in Maui than in Austin, the Costco nearest the airport was priced $0.60 or more per gallon less than every other station around. We returned our rental car, checked our luggage and were ready and waiting with time to spare for our flight on Hawaiian Airlines.

Our timing worked beautifully - we arrived on Kauai just as expected, picked up our rental car and were checked in for our seven night stay at the Courtyard by Marriott Kaua'i at Coconut Beach before 1:00 PM. I'm pretty sure that, other than one extended business trip, I have never stayed in a single hotel for a full week. We are so looking forward to our (hopefully) relaxing stay.



Finding the Trail to Ho'opi'i Falls

After unloading our rental car, we were itching to get out and explore the island, so we took off looking for an off the beaten path waterfall hike that we'd read about. Scott had placed a marker in our go to GPS app, maps.me, and that was where we headed. As expected, the trailhead was not easy to find - we actually drove past it, however we had noticed some cars parked on the side of the road in the nearby vicinity, so we suspected that was our spot. After turning around and finding a street side parking space, we grabbed our cameras, locked the car and hunted for the trailhead. There were homes on the road and gates with no trespassing signs, however there was a small opening void of any "keep out" signs that looked like it could lead to the sought after dirt trail.


Our Hike Begins

Our Hike Begins

The first part of the trail was actually quite nice - although there were no signs or markers, the trail was cleared so it was easy to follow. After hiking a fairly short distance, the trail began sloping down toward the bank of Kapa'a Stream. Fortunately for us, the trail was dry, so it was not slippery, but since it was downhill going in, I knew that meant we had an uphill climb on the way back to our car.


Kapa'a Stream

Kapa'a Stream

Lower Ho'opi'i Falls Viewpoint

Shortly after reaching the stream, the trail became a little more difficult to navigate due to the many fallen trees that we had to step over ... or under ... or through. We met some returning hikers who suggested that we turn right at the fork. Following their instructions, we continued on the trail that progressively got narrower due to the density of the trees (both standing and blocking parts of the trail) and more difficult on which to hike. We finally arrived at Lower Ho'opi'i Falls Viewpoint.


Lower Ho'opi'i Falls Viewpoint

Lower Ho'opi'i Falls Viewpoint

Apparently there was a way to walk around and get closer to the falls, however, since we were not dressed to get wet, we passed on that more difficult hike and headed back toward our starting point. Part way through our return, we chose a path that was a little closer to the stream, and at one point we began hearing rushing water. We were pretty confident that there was another waterfall, so at our first opportunity, we chose a path which took us back down to the stream.


Kapa'a Stream

Kapa'a Stream

While we were not quite at the falls, we could definitely hear both the water and voices that sounded like those of jumpers and swimmers, so we continued our hike until we found Upper Ho'opi'i Falls. We stood on a nearby ledge watching the youngsters swimming and jumping into the pool, and also noticed an area nearby with people lounging on towels or relaxing in beach chairs. Time permitting during our week on Kauai, we might just return with swimsuits and chairs.


Upper Ho'opi'i Falls

Upper Ho'opi'i Falls

We continued our return hike to the trailhead, this time partially uphill, until we came upon a pasture full of cows. A little perplexed, we looked at each other and wondered if we were on the correct trail as we didn't remember seeing cows on our inbound hike.


A Disappearing Cow Pasture?

A Disappearing Cow Pasture?

Since everything else looked familiar, we continued and soon made it back to the trailhead. Based on our total time on the trail (about 1 1/4 hours), our estimation of the amount of time that we were actually moving and the approximate number of steps I took based on my Health app, I guessed that our total hiking distance was just a little over two miles.



Secret Falls

For some unknown reason we decided we wanted to add to our step count, so we took off in our car in search of Secret Falls. We finally figured out that we needed to turn down the road toward Kamokila Hawaiian Village (just across the highway from the Opaeka'a Falls Lookout). Once parked, we realized that there didn't appear to be a nearby trailhead, and after talking to a village employee and reading the signage, determined that this visit was going to be for information gathering only. The hike to the falls was more complicated than we thought - it required a canoe ride down Wailua River followed by a hike. It actually sounded quite fun, and we learned that we had two options - either a guided or self-guided tour, however it was too late in the day to start either. We left with a brochure and plans to make a reservation before leaving the island.

Opaeka'a Falls Lookout

Although our goal for this trip was to not repeat what we've done on our two previous visits together to Kauai, we had extra time due to the delay of our hike to Secret Falls, so we made a brief photo stop at the well marked Opaeka'a Falls Lookout.


Opaeka'a Falls

Opaeka'a Falls

Prior to leaving the area, we made one more stop for photos at the lookout just across the street for a nice view of the Wailua River. We watched the boat full of passengers towing a water skier while keeping an eye on the nearby chickens.


Wailua River

Wailua River


More of my New Chicken Friends

More of my New Chicken Friends

Although we didn't get to do all that we had hoped, we made more plans for the days ahead.

Tips for Navigating to Secret Falls and Ho'opi'i Falls

If you are interested in the outrigger canoe journey down the Wailua River to the trailhead for the hike to Secret Falls:
  • My recommendation is to make this your first stop of the day (5443 Kuamo'o Road, Wailua, Kaua'i, HI) so that you don't miss out like we did.
  • Visit the website of Kamokila Hawaiian Village, or make contact via telephone (808-823-0559) or e-mail (villagekauai@gmail.com) to get questions answered or to make advance reservations.



If you are considering the hike to Ho'opi'i Falls:

  • Review the helpful information and detailed instructions found online prior to attempting this waterfall hike - you will be glad you did as it is full of navigational tips for both finding the trailhead as well as for along the hike itself.
  • Wear your swimsuit and bring a beach towel (or chair, if you don't mind carrying it while hiking) so that you have the option of either getting in the water or relaxing on the rocks for some fun people watching.

My Camera (& Fitbit) Saga . . . Continued

Before leaving our Maui Airbnb for the last time to head toward Kahului Airport, I did my obligatory camera test. When I turned on my camera's power, something different happened - for the first time since it got wet, the lens actually extended. It wasn't smooth and quiet like it used to be, but I was ecstatic that it was at least doing something different! By mid-day, it was back to its original smooth and quiet power on and shut off. On the other hand, after following the online instructions to restart my drowned Fitbit, it is still refusing to power on. I'm hoping that in another day or two, it will change its mind!

Northwest Kauai

For another hike with some beautiful scenery on the island of Kauai, take a peek at our posting titled "Our Hike (and Complete Soaking) in Northwest Kauai".

Question

Where is your favorite waterfall hike - either in Hawaii or anywhere else in the world, and why is it at the top of your list?




Total Health App steps today: 11,813
Weather:86F Light Rain


Waterfalls in Northeast Kauai




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