Makaleha Falls Hike is a jungle waterfall adventure on the island of Kauai. This hike will leave you covered in mud but with no regrets. The 2.6 miles out and back trail follows a stream for the entirety of the hike with a reward of multiple epic waterfalls at the end.
This hike is a great fit for those capable of bouldering, weaving in and out of roots and vines, and dealing with slippery mud and mossy rocks. I spent an entire month hiking on Kauai and this was one of my favorites. You can find all fifteen of my top hikes inside my Kauai Hiking Guide and for more hiking inspiration you can read my Oahu Hiking Guide also!
Makaleha Falls Hike Details
- Distance: 2.6 miles out and back
- Duration: 2 hours
- Incline: 280m
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Makaleha Falls Hike Trailhead Map
At the trailhead, there is a parking lot next to a giant water tank. A road then leads you towards the mountains and eventually the trail.
MY TOP HOTEL PICKS FOR KAUAI
- Kauai Shores Hotel – Luxury (but value also): A luxury feels with the resort-style property, palm trees, and a beautiful pool area.
- Koloa Landing Resort – Luxury (high-end): LARGEST pool on all of Kauai with beautiful, natural-style landscaping.
- The Grand Hyatt Resort – Best Family Resort: Best kids’ club on the island, a 5-acre pool complex with a lazy river pool, a waterslide, and a saltwater lagoon big enough for kayaking.
- Read my full guide: You can check my favorites in my Kauai: Where to Stay Guide
Makaleha Falls Hike
Makaleha Falls Hike on Kauai takes about two hours round trip if you don’t stop for photos or spend too long at the falls. Otherwise, allow for three hours if you want to enjoy the falls at the destination.
The hike begins along the Makaleha Stream and follows it the whole way up to the falls. I lost count of the river crossings and many of them left no option other than to wade through the water. I managed to keep one shoe dry!
The trail isn’t necessarily well defined throughout but as long as you follow the stream and stick close to the water’s edge you will find you the way to the falls. The trail is worn enough so that if it gets too thick you have probably gone off the track.
What are my favorite pieces of hiking gear?
There are four pieces of gear that I simply never forget when I go on a hike. These are four items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my hiking essentials.
- Arcteryx BETA AR Rain Jacket: This is my go-to rain jacket. It’s super light, folds down into a tiny ball, and protects brilliantly in a storm. This one never leaves my backpack.
- Salomon X Ultra 3 Mid GTX Hiking Boots: For the best ankle support, waterproofing, and durable exterior I’m a fan of tough but light hiking boots like these Salomons for my adventures.
- Black Diamond Head Torch: I can’t tell you how many times, I’ve arrived back from a hike unexpectedly late. I always keep this lightweight but strong headtorch in my bag for the unexpected.
- Darn Tough Socks: These are the most comfortable hiking socks I’ve ever worn and last for years. They also have a lifetime warranty and you just send them in with a hole and they replace it no questions asked.
The trail was incredibly diverse and the trees, flowers, plants, and roots captivated me throughout the trail.
The Makaleha Falls Trail finally ‘ended’ with views of multiple falls gushing down the side of the mountain. However, this isn’t the ‘real’ end of the trail.
Continue on along the stream and you will arrive at the two-tiered falls. This spot was nestled in a narrow canyon and the water was beyond freezing! It’s a handy little area for cliff-jumping but definitely check the water for debris or rocks first! This was a pretty sweet jump spot but there were lots of higher cliff jumps on Kauai aswell.
I hope you enjoyed this guide to the Makaleha Falls hike and have a great adventure on Kauai.
WHERE TO STAY ON KAUAI
- Kauai Shores Hotel – Luxury (but value also): A luxury feels with the resort-style property, palm trees, and a beautiful pool area. The best part about this hotel is that it is right on the beach. The restaurant literally looks out to the waves, which is an awesome spot to start your day with breakfast.
- Koloa Landing Resort – Luxury (high-end): I was lucky enough to spend three nights reviewing Koloa Landing Resort and honestly the place is just phenomenal. It has the LARGEST pool on all of Kauai with beautiful, natural-style landscaping throughout the pool areas.
- The Grand Hyatt Resort – Best Family Resort: With the best kids’ club on the island, wildlife talks in the lobby, and a five-acre pool complex that includes an enormous lazy-river pool, a waterslide, and a saltwater lagoon big enough for kayaking, the Grand Hyatt is unbeatable for keeping kids busy and parents happy.
- Hilton Garden Inn – Value Pick: The Hilton Garden Inn is your number-one choice if you are on a budget but still need comfort. The Hilton has a beautiful pool, private beach access, and hot tub.
- For more accommodation recommendations you can check my favorites in the Kauai Where to Stay Guide.