If you’ve ever fantasized about seeing a double-tiered waterfall, then get ready to turn your fantasy into reality at the gorgeous Wailua Falls. And speaking of fantasy, Wailua Falls is so lovely that it was featured in the opening scene of the long-running TV show Fantasy Island.
There are several reasons Wailua Falls is such a great (and popular) place for visitors to enjoy. First, it was catapulted into the international spotlight back in the 1970’s by the well-known television series. It has also been widely utilized in print and other forms of media for decades as a symbol of Kauai’s lush beauty. Second, unlike many other Kauai waterfalls, Wailua Falls is easily accessible, as no hiking is needed to reach it and appreciate its beauty up close. In fact, the parking lot basically overlooks the falls. But the main reason the falls is so special is its beauty; it has certainly earned its place as an international representation of Kauai’s enchantment.
As an added bonus, when the sun hits at just the right angle you’ll get a beautiful rainbow extending out from the base of the falls in the mist, which is nothing short of spectacular.
Note that during times of especially high precipitation on the island, the falls can actually turn into a single giant and raging falls. During high flow, the falls often sports a third-tier flow. And while Wailua Falls is always magnificent, we believe it is most beautiful when it has a moderate flow.
Wailua Falls is approximately 85 ft. high- not 170+ ft. as some books have reported- and drops into a pool over 30 ft. deep. Needless to say, we strongly urge you not to even consider diving off this waterfall, as the leap has proven fatal for several visitors. However, visitors are not the only ones to have met their demise here, as ancient Hawaiian men were known to have jumped off the falls in an attempt to prove their manhood. (Or their foolishness, one might say.)
If you wish to get to the bottom of the falls (which the county advises against, as do we), then there are two trails that make the journey quite a bit safer than simply jumping off. You’ll notice the first trail by the guard rail at the end of the parking lot. This is the steeper and often muddier trail. We suggest avoiding this trail at all costs. If you head a little over a quarter of a mile back down the road, you’ll find an easier, less steep, and safer trail. It is longer than the first trail, but it’s a lot easier to hike. Also, please keep in mind again that the county advises against the hike. The signs erected at each trail are a testament to this fact.
In our opinion, the falls are best seen safely from above at the overlook. Please do not throw rocks and other items into the pool below (which likely will be partially out of view). County warning or not, some people DO hike to the bottom of the falls and likely won’t appreciate being showered with anything but water.
If you are concerned about visiting Kauai’s waterfalls safely and want the input of a knowledgeable local guide, check out our friends at Tread Lightly Kauai Tours. They offer private guided sightseeing and moderate hiking tours with an expert and friendly guide who goes out of his way to make your Kauai waterfall adventure simply spectacular.
If you’d prefer to access Wailua Falls on your own, right after mile marker 1 on Hwy. 56 you’ll notice a road on your left- Maalo Road/Hwy. 583- accompanied by a sign pointing you in the direction of the falls. Take the short drive up this road which will end at a parking lot overlooking the falls.
Be sure to take lots of pictures and enjoy the view!