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Destination: Wailua Falls


“De plane, de plane!” If you remember that famous line shouted by Tattoo as part of the long-running TV series “Fantasy Island,” you’ll likely remember the majestic Wailua Falls from the opening credits. If you ever find yourself in Kauai, your first stop should be Wailua Falls on the Wailua River.

Although you can see it from the road, you’ll have to plan a short hike to get there by foot. Just north of Lihue, this off-the-beaten-path destination is a must-see for visitors of all ages. At the southern tip of the Wailua River, you’ll see this beauty of a waterfall, which cascades down the rock side in two distinct streams. This is why it’s so easily identifiable. Plunging 140 feet to the pool below, Wailua Falls is an awesome photo op, so don’t forget your bring your camera. The size and intensity of the falls will depend on how much rain the area has gotten recently.

To get to Wailua Falls

Go north from Lihue and take Maalo Road in Hanamaulu. You’ll be hiking up the hill for about three miles, so bring sturdy shoes and plenty of water. It’s also a good idea to apply sunscreen before setting off on your journey, and pack snacks for an impromptu picnic at the falls. If you hit your visit just right, you’ll be able to see a beautiful rainbow framing your shot of Wailua Falls.

If you’re interested in pairing your trip to the falls with a boat, canoe or kayak ride along Wailua River, you’re in for a treat. This easily-navigable river is one of the island’s most popular. Meandering by waterfalls, jungle, and plenty of flora and fauna, Wailua River stretches 20 miles long. It has a varied history. In fact, the river coursed along several different temples at one point, and is fed from the 5,000-foot Mount Waialeale in the middle of the island.

When taking a ride along this most famous of rivers, you’ll be able to view not just Wailua Falls but Opaekka Falls as well. Check out the Fern Grotto, which is a natural lava rock cave highlighted by draping ferns, making for an ideal wedding destination. In the distance you’ll spot the Nounou Mountains, which translates to “Sleeping Giant.” This mountain ridge formation resembles a person lying down on his back.

If you’d prefer to tour the river by car, you can do that too. All you have to do is hop on Kuamoo Road, which traverses the north side of the river from Kuhio Highway. There are many sacred landmarks (such as temples, historical sites and the Keahua Arboretum) along your journey so take your time to stop and check them out.

Why not complement your Hawaiian vacation with a stay in Oahu as well? Check out the many treasures we have here with a tour from Hoku Hawaii Tours. We have some nice waterfalls too!