Wailua Falls

Wailua Falls Kauai, A Natural Masterpiece

The dramatic waterfall is known for its misty rainbows and place in the opening credits of the television show Fantasy Island.

Wailua Falls, located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, is a breathtaking and iconic natural wonder that exemplifies the island’s lush beauty and captivating landscapes. Situated near the town of Lihue, Wailua Falls is renowned for its impressive twin waterfalls, which cascade down a lush, verdant cliff face into a tranquil pool more than 80 feet below. The waterfall is especially striking after periods of heavy rainfall, when the falls are at their fullest and most impressive. This captivating display of nature’s power and elegance has made Wailua Falls a popular tourist destination and a symbol of Kauai’s natural splendor.

Wailua Falls Parking Area
Wailua Falls Parking Area

Access and Viewing

Wailua Falls Location: Google Maps
Admission: Free
Open: 24 hours

Wailua Falls is located at the end of Maalo Road (583), a short country drive from Lihue. Visitors can easily access Wailua Falls by car, with a short walk from the adjacent parking area. The roadside viewing area, with a rock wall, has a stunning vantage point for observing the cascades. The lush plunge pool can also be seen, and visitors may be surprised to see people down below.

TIP: With its proximity to Lihue Airport, see Wailua Falls on the last day of your Kauai visit if you have a later flight.

Wailua Falls Viewing Area

Wailua Falls Trail

There is a steep, dangerous and prohibited trail from the viewing area down to the waterfall’s plunge pool. Despite the dangers and numerous warning signs, a number of visitors make the hike every day, often on a whim having seen others at the bottom from the viewing area. A chain link fence, to the right of the viewing area, has been erected to keep people out, but there are often holes in the fence, or people just go to the end of the fence.

Ropes have been placed on the trail’s steep slope to assist hikers. Hikers use the ropes, roots, rocks and whatever else they can grasp to claw their way to the bottom and back up. However, one slip could result in tumbling down the precipitous incline, likely resulting in serious injuries or even death. The trail has been the site of many serious injuries and deaths over the years, including the October 2022 death of 28-year-old Nicole Chavez from Chile. Moreover, trespassers who are caught in the prohibited area are subject to large fines (we’ve heard $500 to $1000).

(The ropes belie an easier way down and up, an ancient trail used by Hawaiians on the waterfall side of the steep slope that can be navigated mostly standing up.)

Overall, we do not recommend this dangerous or prohibited hike.

Additionally, a chain link fence has been erected to the left of the viewing area to keep people from accessing the top of the waterfall, another inherently dangerous and prohibited area.

Wailua Falls Vendor
A vendor at Wailua Falls.

Wailua Falls Helicopter Tours

Wailua Falls Helicopter Tours

Wailua Falls is a highlight of many Kauai helicopter tours, an activity that provides a unique aerial perspective of the falls and surrounding area (weather permitting).

(Check with the specific Kauai helicopter tour companies to see if Wailua Falls is included in the above tours.)

Final Thoughts

Wailua FallsHawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Tor Johnson

Wailua Falls stands as a testament to the natural beauty of Kauai. With its awe-inspiring cascades, rainbows and lush surroundings, the waterfall continues to capture the hearts of those who journey to witness its majesty. As a cherished jewel of Kauai’s landscape, Wailua Falls remains a must-visit destination for anyone seeking a profound connection with Hawaii’s breathtaking natural wonders.

TOP PHOTO CREDIT: Hawaii Tourism Authority (HTA)/Tor Johnson