11 Best Kauai Waterfalls You Should Visit

Wondering where to find the most beautiful places on Kauai? Check out these 11 best Kauai waterfalls that are absolutely stunning. Keep scrolling for all the info!
This best Kauai waterfalls post was originally written September 19, 2019 and was updated November 7, 2021 and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

I’ve been visiting Kauai for the past 25 years. In that time I’ve come up with my list of the best Kauai waterfalls. And there’s a reason for that.

In those 25 years, a lot has changed on the island. Now there’s a Costco and a Ross Dress for Less. You’ll find lots of new hotels, and a ton of hipster vegan restaurants.

But, so much of Kauai is just as it was when I first visited as a child.

One of my all-time favorite things to do on Kauai is check out the waterfalls. If you want my list, read below.

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Kauai Waterfalls FAQs

Can you swim in Wailua Falls?

No, you cannot swim at Wailua Falls on Kauai. In fact, it’s illegal to swim and even hike down to the base of Wailua Falls. Please don’t attempt this.

Do you have to hike to see Wailua Falls?

Nope! There’s really easy lookout from the side of the road where you can get a great view of this Kauai waterfall. And a really popular way to see this Kauai waterfall is to hop on a helicopter tour!

Can you hike to Opaeka’a Falls?

Sort of. It’s an extremely difficult hike and it’s on private property, so it’s at your own risk. I don’t recommend it for children unless they’re teens who have experience hiking.

Top 11 Best Kauai Waterfalls you Should Visit featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Heading on a Kauai vacation? Find out 11 of the best Kauai waterfalls to visit. Some you'll need to hike to, but others can be seen from the comfort of your car. Don't miss these amazing Kauai sights!

Top 11 Best Kauai Waterfalls

The island of Kauai is known as the ‘Garden Island.’ I can’t think of a better description for this beautiful Hawaiian island.

Kauai is the fourth largest of the Hawaiian islands, known for its jaw-dropping cascades, surrounded by lush green tropical rainforests.

Speaking of cascades, let’s take a look at some of them. Below you’ll find 11 of what I feel are the best Kauai waterfalls you’ll find on the entire island.

And not to worry, while you can certainly hike to most of these waterfalls by trail, several of them can be seen in the comfort of your own car.

1. Wailua Falls

Hands down, Wailua Falls is one of the most amazing waterfalls you will find on Kauai.

Top 11 Best Kauai Waterfalls you Should Visit featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Wailua Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls on Kauai | waterfalls kauai | wailua falls kauai
Wailua Falls on Kauai.

It’s in Wailua River State Park on Kauai’s Golden Coast, near Lihue.

Visit the falls earlier in the morning to see beautiful rainbow in the mist flying all around!

And you don’t have to hike to Wailua Falls. This Kauai waterfall can be seen while sitting in your car! But let’s be real, you want to feel the cool mist on your skin.

This is one of the most popular waterfalls on Kauai and it’s famous for being in the opening credits for the original Fantasy Island TV show.

Visiting Wailua Falls is one of the best things to do on Kauai for under $10!

Get the Wailua Valley & Waterfalls Driving Tour App.

2. Kipu Falls

First of all, Kipu Falls is permanently closed. It’s illegal to hike there because it’s on private land.

Yes, the falls are gorgeous, but it’s been shown to be extremely dangerous and after too many accidents, it was closed.

The pool beneath the falls is believed to contain an overpowering whirlpool that has unfortunately taken several lives over the last decade.

Plus, the hike there is very dangerous with steep and slippery rocks. So you can’t even try to get close without risking your life!

However, it’s definitely worth it to book airplane or helicopter tour to see this natural beauty from above!

Sign up for a Wings Over Kauai Air Tour.

3. Uluwehi Falls

The breathtaking Uluwehi Falls is on the lower Wailua River.

Sometimes it’s referred to as “Secret Falls” because of how secluded and less-traveled this strenuous trail is.

If you feel like you have what it takes to reach this Kauai waterfall, you’re looking at quite the journey. First it’s a 50-minute kayak ride, and then a 30-minute hike through some thick rainforests with dangerous drops.

Book your Wailua River and Secret Falls Kayak and Hiking Tour.

4. Waipo’o Falls

It’s hard to miss the Waipo’o Falls, that’s for sure! The falls are a bright contrast to the dry, rough canyon rock all around it. It’s quite a scene to behold.

Top 11 Best Kauai Waterfalls you Should Visit featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: You can hike ot see Waipoo Falls in Waimea Canyon or you can see it from the lookout.
Waipoo Falls in Waimea Canyon.

Waipo’o Falls is located on the rugged Na Pali Coast. Much of this region of Kauai is impossible to get to by car.

But the good news is that you can view this waterfall from Highway 550. Or if you want to hike to it, park at the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout where you’ll find the Waipo’o Falls Trailhead.

Follow the New Spur Trail until it turns into the Waipo’o Falls Trail. It’s considered a moderate trail with great views of the canyon and the pools above the falls. This is a top Kauai waterfall hike.

Be advised that during the summer months, the falls are a lot less impressive than the rainy spring season.

Book a Waimea Canyon tour.

5. Mount Waialeale Falls

Mount Waialeale Falls, a.k.a, the “Wall of Tears.” It’s a Kauai waterfall that everyone wants to see, but most people never will.

Top 11 Best Kauai Waterfalls you Should Visit featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Mount Waialeale known as the wettest spot on Earth, Kauai, Hawaii
Mt. Waialeale Falls on Kauai.

That’s because there are no trails or accessible routes that are safe to get you there.

You might just have to admire this beauty on a postcard or magazine. But if you really want to see it, book a helicopter ride that will take you over the 3,000 foot tall cascades.

This is one of the best ways to see many wonders of Kauai, since so many parts of the island are not accessible by car.

Book a Kauai helicopter tour.

6. Kalihiwai Falls

These crashing cascades are surrounded by lush green forests.

Kalihiwai Falls is located on the North Shore of Kauai, and are accessible by car.

You can also view this multi-tier falls by horseback riding or set out on foot.

You can also see Kalihiwai Falls when you hop on a guided tour. Along the way you’ll learn about the wildlife, plant life, geology, and history of the surrounding area.

And if you want to take a refreshing dip, head toward the lower falls. There are great places for swimming and exploring behind the cascade!

Book a private Kauai sightseeing tour.

7. Hanakapiai Falls

Many visitors enjoy spending the day crashing along the Hanakapiai Beach after hiking to Hanakapiai Falls located just 2-miles inland.

It makes for a great day trip and which is why this is one of the most popular Kauai waterfall hikes.

Top 11 Best Kauai Waterfalls you Should Visit featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: You'll do a 4 mile Kauai hike to get to Hanakapiai Falls
Hanakapiai Falls on Kauai.

The hike to the Hanakapiai Falls is around a 4 mile round trip. It’s considered a moderate trail through tropical forests and bamboo.

There are several spots that can be treacherous due to the wetness and slippery conditions. Don’t try it unless you’re an experienced hiker.

When you finally reach the waterfall, reward yourself with a swim! There’s a pool at the bottom of the falls that’s safe for swimming.

8. Ho’Opi’i Falls

Located on the eastern coast of Kauai Island, the Ho’opi’i Falls is a hidden gem that’s hard to find.

The 600-foot falls are two misty twin tiers, surrounded by forest overgrowth up above.

Ho'opi'i Falls: Image of a timelapse waterfall on Kauai
Ho’opi’i Falls on Kauai.

That’s because it’s on an unmarked trail. And while trail itself is a moderate 2-mile hike, it can be difficult to track down. That’s why you should only attempt it if you’re a weathered hiker or have a guide with you.

Join a Ho’opi’i Falls hiking tour.

9. Hoolea Falls

Hoolea Falls might be the most stunning waterfall you’ll witness in Kauai! It’s a 2-tier waterfall with a steady stream that runs down a volcanic rock wall.

It’s easy to get to, located on prime real estate close to the North Shore resorts. To hike to the falls, look for the trailhead is right behind Kalalau Beach.

Also, don’t be alarmed if you see more skin than you’re accustomed to. Nudity is common with locals in the area!

10. Hanakoa Falls

You might recognize Hanakoa Falls from Jurassic Park! The waterfall drops from a stunning 1,000 feet into a peaceful pool far below.

If you want to hike all the way to the falls, make sure you stop in at the government office in town to get a hiking permit.

Hanakoa Falls on Kauai.

Take the Kalalau Trail where you will reach the falls about halfway along the hike. This is arguably one of the most beautiful hikes in America, covering 22-miles round trip.

11. Opaekaa Falls

Another easy-access waterfall you can enjoy from the car, is the Opaekaa Falls back on Kauai’s eastern coast.

Top 11 Best Kauai Waterfalls you Should Visit featured by top Hawaii travel blog, Hawaii Travel with Kids: Opaekaa Falls is a popular Kauai waterfall and top Kauai attraction.
Opaekaa Falls on Kauai.

While this 2-tier waterfall only drops 150 feet, it’s still one of the best waterfalls in all of Kauai.

While you can see the falls from the parking lot, the best way to see Opaekaa Falls is by going on a 30-minute hike.

Make sure you pack a few sandwiches and snacks and you can rest at a picnic area that’s close to the trailhead parking lot.

Join a private Kauai kayaking and adventure tour featuring Opaekaa Falls.

Best Waterfalls in Kauai Wrap Up

These are my pick for the best Kauai waterfalls you’ll find. Of course, there are plenty more waterfalls on Kauai worth seeing during your trip!

As you’re planning your Kauai itinerary, be sure to include a few of these gorgeous Kauai falls.

Love this post about the best waterfalls in Kauai and are looking for more Hawaii waterfalls? Check out our posts about waterfalls on Maui, Oahu, and the Big Island!

2 thoughts on “11 Best Kauai Waterfalls You Should Visit”

  1. Thanks for the great list! As a Kauai resident, it’s important to note that kipu is permanently closed and has been for over 8 years. Also, many if these are probably not suitable to bring children along, which might be an important side note, since your website is traveling with kids. But I did enjoy the article! Mahalo 🙂

    • Thanks so much for the feedback! It had been my understanding that while Kipu Kai has been closed via land, people could still see Kipu Kai via private boat tours and helicopter rides. While my site is aimed at family with kids, that also includes tweens and teens, so I like to offer an array of suggestions.

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