Most dream of sandy beaches and Mai Tais when planning a vacation to Kauai, but the interior of the island holds its own variety of beauty and treasures. Through lush tropical forest you’ll discover majestic waterfalls, some reachable after a quick stroll from the parking lot, while others require steady tromps past geckos and hibiscus flowers. The following five are a short drive from your home base at Timbers Kauai.
The journey to Uluwehi falls is an adventure, and most opt to take a guided tour, as you’ll need to kayak and then hike to reach the falls. For this reason, and others, Uluwehi Falls is referred to as “Secret Falls” by locals—a name that will surely get your little explorers excited for the trip. Have no fear, Uluwehi is a popular and safe spot despite its nickname, and both the kayaking and the hike are under 2 hours. If you do go unguided, be sure to keep in mind that flash floods and high winds are possible, so consult these helpful tips from Hawaii Guide before embarking on your own.
Looking for that perfect Kauai Instagram picture, or maybe you’re squeezing in as many sites as possible? Then look no further than Wailua Falls, a short 15 minute drive from Timbers Kauai. Wailua Falls doesn’t require a hike, simply park in the adjacent lot and stroll over to experience a Hawaiian wonder like you’ve never seen. Perfect for families with young children or trip planners who need a waterfall in the itinerary.
Opaekaa Falls is another easily accessed attraction, just a bit further north than Wailua. If you’re looking for more gorgeous waterfall pics, and sweeping views of the Wailua River Basin, then make the short trip over after seeing Wailua. The falls were named Opaekaa because of the “rolling shrimp” that would careen down the falls. (Opaekaa tranlates to rolling shrimp in Hawaiian) However, shrimp are no longer quite that abundant on Kauai, so you won’t spot any here. Though it may seem like a nice hike to venture down to the pool below, do not attempt to do so as it is very dangerous.
If you’re after for a bit more seclusion and exercise, make the trip to Ho’opi Falls. The trailhead is a bit tricky to find, so we recommend asking locals, or consulting websites like Hikerly before heading out. Once on the hike, you’ll notice many of Kauai’s celebrated wildlife—lizards, tropical birds, frogs, fish, perhaps even a wild boar. The trail is difficult and unmarked, but it’s still only about 2 hours, the perfect amount of adventure to squeeze into your Kauai vacation.
Manawaipuna Falls are the most difficult falls to get to on this list because they require a helicopter trip, but the aerial views on the way would be worth it even if you didn’t get to see one of the most famous waterfalls in the world. You’ll recognize Manawaipuna Falls from the classic Stephen Spielburg film Jurassic Park. Rewatch the dino-thriller with the kids and then search for velociraptors and the monstrous T-Rex from the safety of the chopper… Or take a tour with Blue Hawaiian Helicopters and to cruise directly over the Falls, that is, if you’re brave enough.