OPAEKAA FALLS HIKE ON KAUAI, HAWAII

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Opaekaa Falls is one of the most popular spots for tourists to visit when they come to Kauai. However, most tourists just stop in the parking lot and watch the falls from a distance. It’s possible to trek down to the bottom and swim in the pool below the falls along a trail, although it is a very steep trail with a high level of difficulty. I set out on an Opaekaa Falls hike mission in the middle of the day.

I hiked all over Kauai for over a month and documented all of my adventures. In my opinion,  these are the 15 best hikes on Kauai!

Opaeakaa Falls Hike Directions

We parked in the main parking lot and began walking along the road towards the falls. Following the road, we kept walking until a green fence began. We stepped over the railing of the road and walked behind this green fence. It is a little steep and slippery but stays right next to the fence. Follow it for about fifty yards ducking under tree branches until you can see more a defined trail down the hill. By this stage, you would be level with the falls and you are actually going to hike down the hill to the top of the falls.

This hike is quite difficult, has steep and dangerous drop-offs and was very, very slippery. I would recommend it for experienced hikers only. The Sleeping Giant Hike is an easier alternative, which is also nearby.

Opaekaa Falls Map

Opaekaa Falls Hike

The trail from the road down to the top of the falls is very steep and it’s hard to find any good footing. We bounced from tree to tree and both slipped multiple times onto our backs. Don’t take this part of the trail lightly.

Once you reach the bottom of the hill you will come to a stream. Follow the stream to the right and you will find the top of Opaekaa Falls. We hung out here for a while, peering over the edge of this powerful waterfall.

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The view from the top

 

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The top if Opaekaa Falls Hike

After enjoying the top of the falls we backtracked about 20 yards up the stream and then crossed the river. We were now on the opposite side of the river than when we had begun the Opaekaa Falls Hike.

There are several lightly trafficked trails from this point onwards. They all lead to the same place, so follow the one that you think is going to be the safest. At several points during this section of the hike, there is a rope to help you find your way safely down the hill. Once again, it is very slippery and not a section to take lightly.

The entire hike to the bottom of the falls took about 30-minutes if you didn’t stop. At the bottom of the falls, we enjoyed a peaceful rest as we took in the natural beauty of Opaeka Falls. It looks as if you can hike out down the stream, maybe all the way to the beach. We will save that adventure for another day.

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Our first glimpse of Opaekaa Falls from the bottom pool

 

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Opaekaa Falls

This hike is signposted as hazardous after two fatalities many years ago. Be careful, know your limits and as always pack out your trash. Leave this beautiful place better than when you found it.

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4 Discussion to this post

  1. Kent Brewster says:

    Please do not do this.

    There is no safe trail from Kuamo’o Road to the bottom of ‘Opaeka’a Falls. You are taking a crazy risk by ducking behind the county fence — those are pig trails, and they go right over the drop with no warning — and trespassing across private property. (That bit where you backtracked 20 yards upstream? Private property.)

    If you’re caught it’s a $500 fine for each of you, with a mandatory in-person court appearance, because the county was successfully sued for fifteen million dollars after two tourists fell to their deaths in 2006. Google “opaekaa falls deaths” to learn more.

    The property owners will call the police instantly if they see you walking in or your rental car parked on the side of the road, because they are potentially liable if you hurt yourselves after crossing their land.

    If you’ve paid a “local guide” to help you down the falls, be aware that they will bug out immediately if cops show up or you get hurt. There’s no cellphone reception of any kind at the bottom of the falls; you will wait a long time for help if you get in trouble.

    If you want a really great hike from Kuamo’o Road, take the trail to the top of the Sleeping Giant. One trailhead is half a mile past the green fence on the right side, after some pasture. Also worth seeing: the Kamokila Hawaiian Village, just after the Wailua River lookout, on the left side as you’re going uphill.

    Have fun out there, but please stay safe! Kaua’i is gorgeous but it is a wild place that will bite the unwary without any warning at all.

  2. Doug Long says:

    Aloha,
    As a local on Kauai and a property owner where you are telling visitors to walk over my property, or going behind a county green fence, which was put up due to people dying on this cliff, this isn’t a trail this was from wild animals. Please know if anyone was to get hurt on this trail you would also be held responsible also people who are using this trail and getting caught are getting arrested and fined.

  3. Thank you so much for sharing! We’re here and really appreciate all your posts about the hiking here!

  4. Leo Oscar says:

    This is amazing hiking on a fall.I heard about this for the first time but I am sure that it will be amazing.The pictures above are describing the whole scenario and are assuring that this place is worth to visit.

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