This one was long and difficult but definitely one of the most thrilling hikes I've been on. It's muddy (and quite slippery) almost the whole way through and involves a good amount of rope climbing.
The three waterfalls are all amazing and relatively close to each other. Many people turn back after the first or third waterfall because the crater is quite a ways up from them.
If you're planning on the whole loop, I'd recommend setting aside 6 hours, at least 2 liters of water and good hiking shoes. Also, I'm really attractive to mosquitoes so I used bug spray and still ended up with well over 40 bites (still completely worth it).
Fairly easy trail with a nice waterfall at the end.
As others have mentioned, when arriving, there is a parking lot ($5) on the right, just past the restaurant. The day I went, it was rainy and muddy but not too slippery. The round-trip took about an hour.
Christian C. on Kaau Crater
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This is a great hike for all types of people, whether you've brought your family or you just want to do one on your own. It took us under an hour to reach the top from the start point outside the parking you may have to pay $5 for parking but you don't need to bring cash. Bring your swimsuit if you want to take a swim in the crystal clear pool at the bottom of the fall. There's also a restaurant near the parking lot for when you're done and hungry.
Simply amazing! Everything you could ask for - little bit of adventure, danger, sweat, rock climbing, slipping, falling, waterfalls, crater, views, never get bored.
Terrain is VERY muddy, no way around it. Don't avoid it in the beginning just embrace it. 95% of the hike is mud.
Bring bug spray.
I brought 3 liters of water and it wasn't enough...
5-6 hours full hike.
Let's set the record straight – unless you are a professional rockclimber, this is not a "moderate" hike. We are experienced hikers and found this to be challenging. It was extremely buddy – we have no problem with that, but let's just admit, this makes it pretty challenging. If you want to do the full trail, you will be climbing ropes like it is your job. The third waterfall involves you scaling directly up the waterfall via multiple ropes. (I if you are a kind heart hiker, and think of it, bring a rope, and tie it off somewhere useful. I think this is the way that the trail is actually maintained by fellow hikers. And there is one in particular that is fraying right now and could use some love.)
Bring a lot of water. No question about it. We did the full loop, and it took us six hours.
We went to the right – I recommend that you do it this direction too. I think it would be sub-optimal to descend the waterfalls rather than climb them.
If you get hungry, here is a helpful tip: eat the berries! The red ones. They are strawberry guava, they are plentiful, and they will probably be smashed on the ground everywhere – and you can eat them, they're totally edible and they are totally yummy and thirst quenching too.
Also, I will comment that I was wearing my barefoot running shoes, and this was actually an asset. My shoes, I realized, are similar to rock climbing shoes, and this came in handy as I was scaling the rock surface in particular of the third waterfall. If you have shoes with massive platforms or treads, you will not feel the ground beneath you as readily and it may actually hinder your passage.
This was quite possibly the worst trail I have ever done! A complete waste of my day trying to navigate the trail. Aside from the ghetto gate we had to enter on the other side of a major highway. And the pink trail markers that seemed to be just every where as if trying to confuse hikers in the worst way. It was a mosquito nightmare and just the worst hike ever! Don't waste your time .