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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.


Where to stay on Kauai

Save money on Kauai by staying at an Airbnb! Get a FREE $40 Airbnb Coupon by using my code when you book! 

I’m going to recommend five places to stay on Kauai. All five of these spots are in great locations but each one is a little different. Two are is a luxury pick, one is a family choice, the other is a value selection and the last recommendation I have for you is where I recommend for the budget backpackers.

Kauai Shores HotelLuxury (but value also): Okay so Kauai is expensive that is just a fact. So luxury on Kauai is REALLY expensive. We are talking $700+ a night at many hotels. Kauai Shores Hotel has the luxury feel with the resort style property, palm trees, and a beautiful pool area. However, it is less than $300 a night. 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. This is a great choice if you do want a high-end hotel for your stay in Kauai but you still want to keep things reasonable and not blow thousands and thousands on your getaway. Remember you will want to do lots of activities and get a rental car as well maybe so saving a couple of hundred a night by staying at the Kauai Shores Hotel compared to the Marriot will give you the resort vibe but not be extravagant on your budget.

Koloa Landing ResortLuxury (high-end): I was lucky enough to spend three nights reviewing Koloa Landing Resort and honestly the place is just phenomenal. It is part of the Wyndham Autograph collection and has the LARGEST pool on all of Kauai with beautiful, natural-style landscaping throughout the pool areas. Palm trees surround the pool and restaurant areas on what is one of the most luxurious properties on the island. The rooms had all of the trimmings and it was definitely an amazing experience to spend a few nights at Koloa Landing Resort.

The Grand Hyatt ResortBest 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. Plus, five of the resort’s 11 restaurants have children’s menus at The Grand Hyatt Resort.

Hilton Garden InnValue Pick: The Hilton Garden Inn is your number one choice if you are on a budget but still need comfort. Don’t get me wrong, it isn’t cheap it is still over $200 USD but this is Kauai. $200 USD is a bargain. The Hilton has a beautiful pool, has private beach access and hot tubs so you are still getting awesome value and the resort experience. The Hilton Garden Inn is where you go when you want to enjoy the hot tub, pool and beach access but don’t necessarily care about all of the trimmings at the resorts that are 4 figures or more per night. If I was on a honeymoon or with a family, this is where I would stay and spend the saved money and helicopter tours, rental cars and experiences!


More Kauai Blog Posts

I spent an entire month exploring the island of Kauai. In particular, I was hiking all of the trails and made several guides for the best hikes and easiest hikes so you can enjoy the trails of the island.


Kauai Hiking Guide: 15 BEST HIKES ON KAUAI




Blog Comments

  1. Pingback: 15 BEST HIKES ON KAUAI, HAWAII – Circhub

  2. You should also mention that this is illegal trespassing as the posted signs make clear. The neighbors watch this very closely for trespassers jumping the tall green fence and will call the cops immediately. I think its funny that you are recommending that people do something illegal without letting them know in your blog post. I guess whatever it takes to capitalize on it and get more views? No ethics in Insta-fame.

    1. Pretty clearly mentions it is illegal and the entire debate … you obviously didn’t make it all the way through the post. Make sure you read things closely before making misguided comments 🙂

  3. Hi! Have loved all your blogs especially the Kauai ones I’ve been on the island for two months now. Question about this hike..we had a hard time time finding where to start the decent we made it across the stream but then we couldn’t find where to go down.. seems like from your picture from when you first seen opaeka falls you have to go up and around? Almost from the back of the stream? We ran into some locals and they explained It like it’s a camel hump.. any suggestions!?

  4. The water feeding these falls is dirty. There are houses, cow and horse pastures and some farming activity and all drainage from these places drain into the stream. This is not a pristine watershed and desirable for swimming and shouldn’t be recommended for visitors. There are many nicer spots to take a dip.

    1. Anthony C Cherbas

      I agree with the Sambal… The risk of bacterial infection including leptospirosis is most likely very high here. I’ve seen lots of ducks in the stream at the top of the falls. Another thing to consider is that the owner of the adjacent property told me there is no way to access the falls without crossing on to his property. I had visited the falls 3 times before he confronted me, not knowing I was trespassing, as I just went over the fence on the side of the road. This time he just stood there and watched until I drove away. I think it’s probably best to be respectful, and skip this one.

    1. To each their own. I found it a timid adventure. Other’s may find it very dangerous. That is something to determine for yourself.


    Bad idea! As a local, I would never do this hike or recommend it to anyone! Enjoy the view from the road, and move on.

    1. Thanks. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. As someone who has hiked different trails all over the world, I wouldn’t put this in the difficult category. As I always try and convey, the difficulty is relative and we all make decisions based on our own ability 🙂

  6. Pingback: 1 Week in Kauai - Hiking, Beaches, and Waterfalls - Ruhls of the Road

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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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