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.
* This trail is currently closed due to State restrictions.
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!
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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 of 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.
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.
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 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.
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.