Wailua Falls Trail

MODERATE 121 reviews
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Wailua Falls Trail is a 0.3 mile moderately trafficked out and back trail located near Lihue, Hawaii that features a lake and is rated as moderate. The trail offers a number of activity options and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
0.3 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
45 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

birding

hiking

nature trips

rock climbing

trail running

walking

forest

lake

river

views

waterfall

wild flowers

bugs

muddy

over grown

rocky

scramble

washed out

closed

no dogs

Wailua Falls, just north of Lihue, is a step off the beaten path. Located at the south end of the Wailua River, it cascades into two streams, dropping 80-feet below. Like other spectacular spots on Kauai used as film locations, Wailua Falls is most recognized in the opening credits of the long-running television show "Fantasy Island." Easily accessible, by car, Wailua Falls can be seen from the roadside, so you can leave your hiking boots behind, but if you cant resist the amazing Bucket-List waterfall experience be prepared to hike down the cliff trail located to the far right of the look-out spot. Start by walking back on the road for about 50 yards, then jump the guard rail and look for the trail head, the trail is very steep and demanding, with large roots, rocks, and mud nearly all the time due to the swimmers trekking back up the trail. Parts of the trail are so steep the locals have attached a rope to hold on to and descending with for the second half of your trek down to the lagoon.

7 days ago

I didn’t do the hike. Saw a group of 6 arguing with the police and getting ticketed at the top of the trail.

rock climbing
8 days ago

It has been very rainy and after watching many people approach the trail and head back, we went for it anyway (much to my anxious hubby’s dismay!) The trek down was slippery and harrowing, but the breathtaking prize at the bottom was worth every mud encrusted fingernail!
Be brave, you only live once and this journey made me teary-eyed at the beauty and the simple strength of the human spirit to do those things which others only dream of! Mahalo!

hiking
11 days ago

it was great bring bathing suit

17 days ago

THIS IS A CLIMB! If you do not have good balance or cannot lift yourself this is not the hike for you! Do wear shoes with great grip and clothes you aren’t afraid of getting dirty. This is a very popular hike so don’t be afraid of the trespassing signs, many locals do this hike. It’s definitely only .5 miles long but it makes you work for the view at the end. Gorgeous waterfall and chilly water, if you plant your feet and trust yourself I would recommend this hike!

hiking
18 days ago

if you go down the trail beware that it is a misdemeanor with a $1000 fine plus a mandatory court appearance.

hiking
24 days ago

I got sick as soon as I got to the island and was still dealing with chest congestion when we did this hike. It was moderately demanding on the way out, but only because my lungs were heavy. Walk down til the green 6’ tall fence ends. Enter behind it and walk back towards the falls about 20 yards until you see a worn path with ropes. This is by far the easiest route in and out. There are other more difficult routes that will require a significant amount of climbing and upper body strength, but I would rate this route borderline moderate. I wore Vibrams and my fiancé wore water shoes. We had more issues with footing once we got to the falls than we did on the trek down. The short hike allowed me to cross one more thing off the bucket list. The falls were beautiful. The water was a bit murky and brisk, but very swimmable. Don’t get too close to the falls while in the water as the currents can pull a good swimmer under the falls. You can access the falls by either swimming across the left side of the lagoon or walking a rocky but manageable path around the left side of the lagoon. Don’t be tempted to walk across the giant log...jump over it and there is a narrow walking path behind it. Make sure you take something to protect you phone and camera or any other electronics. Anything you take in this area will get wet. As I stated before, take the same route out you took in. The ascent is much easier than the descent. Use the ropes and limbs to help stabilize yourself and tree roots and rocks for good footing. Enjoy your trip!

hiking
1 month ago

This hike really isn't that bad. Jump the stone wall where it connects to the fence to the right when looking at the falls. Walk along the fence and pass by another fence until you reach the trail head where you will see a rope to know that you are on the right trail. Parts of the trail were slippery and steep, but plenty of roots to rely on! This hike is definitely worth the view of the falls! Take it at whatever pace you need to get down and you'll be fine! Going back up was a breeze. Don't miss out on this!

hiking
1 month ago

Not as hard and scary as I was expecting. I am by no means an experienced hiker. My wife and I weren’t sure if we were going to do it but we at least wanted to see the falls so we drove over there and parked. To get to the trail head, jump the rock guard rail/wall at the far right and then go 5 more yards to the right, you’ll see the opening. We decided to do it when we saw a couple kids come up wearing sandals and they said it wasn’t all that bad. It’s very wet, muddy, and slippery. If it were completely dry this would be a piece of cake. Just be prepared to slip, use the rope as a guide when available, and take your time placing your feet. If you do that, it won’t be bad at all. Views at the bottom are incredible.

1 month ago

Fun little trail down to the base of the waterfall. Short but fun because it’s very slippery in a lot of spots and pretty steep. There are 2 ways to get down .. one to the right past the danger sign which is longer and harder. There are ropes in spots but still very slippery and you will get dirty. There is another trail down which is towards the left .. ‘this is probably the official trail. You actually have to walk left on the other side of the fence until you reach the trailhead. This is actually much easier to go down and up. Have fun!

1 month ago

This trail is a must! As others have mentioned, it’s not technically a trail. However, make sure you go down the path to the right of the waterfall behind the fence (you will pass two “do not pass” signs) and only start the descent when you see what looks like a natural staircase with small ropes. Don’t descend down any other way! We initially started down the wrong path and it was terrifying. The actual path (with the ropes) isn’t too bad as long as you use the ropes, vines, and trees to make your way down. Bring good hiking shoes because it’s extremely slippery and muddy. The way up is much easier than the way down. The descent is worth the beautiful waterfall below! The scenery is amazing! You can swim and even walk behind the waterfall if you’d like. One of my favorite hikes in Kauai!

hiking
1 month ago

This trail was short but very challenging. Lots of running water and mud make footing slippery and requires great attention going down. There are some ropes to help along the way, but you are mostly reliant upon trees, root and branches to control your descent. However, the reward is at the falls with a beautiful, cool pool and great swimming. You can even rock scramble behind the falls if you want get even more wet!

Although still challenging, the way back for me was simpler and I felt more confident with footing. Again, some parts and straight up and require the use of roots and ropes to pull yourself up. If you cannot pull your own weight you may want to reconsider this hike.

Read stories of being ticketed for going down here - I saw no such thing. Rather, a police helicopter made a couple of appearances and a fireman with medical kit was hanging around the swimming pool. Overall, a super cool adventure that all who are capable should do.

hiking
1 month ago

Was harder than I thought it would be because of how steep and slippery it was, but it did just rain a few hours before. Definitely a workout but worth it once you get to the bottom. Swimming at the bottom of the waterfall was rewarding.

1 month ago

The trail is pretty gnarly when it’s wet. Going down is scary but there are so many roots and ropes to grab onto! The falls were too intense to swim in today but I imagine they’d be so fun to swim in when there hasn’t been rain for a while. If you are in shape you can do this if not don’t even try lol! Don’t wear flip flops!!!!! Chacos, keens, or hiking boots will work.

hiking
2 months ago

Warning signs all over. We hopped the stone wall that meets with the fencing (if facing waterfall it’s to your right). There were three different paths down, highly recommend the middle. We had went down the middle path and came back up on the last path. The last path was the hardest compared to the middle path (we listened to other onlookers who told us otherwise). The devil is a liar! One of our hiking members had to get rescued by Kauai Fire Rescue because of the challenges faced on this hike. So be careful and if you feel that it’s too steep just stay behind and enjoy the view from the top. Definitely recommend using hiking boots or shoes with some type of gripping. Use the roots, trees, rocks and rope to assist with hiking down/up due to slippery conditions (take your time). Seen lots of broken slippers and shoes at the bottom of trail. Enjoy!

hiking
2 months ago

This was the first thing we did when we got off our Plane in Lihue. If you’re feeling adventurous and up for a little challenge, I would recommend hiking down to the base of the falls. The path down is muddy and steep but the view is 100% worth the mud splattered clothing. It’s spectacular!

hiking
2 months ago

If you're only going to see the falls from the top, enjoy the rest of your trip at your resort. Now for the rest of you! Go to the bottom of the falls! The view from above sucks compared to the view from the bottom! You must hop over the stone wall, or fence. (on the right side) It seems very illegal and all but it's not. If it is, it is very tolerated lol. If there is no one down in the falls, don't be intimidated! The hike down is crazy and may seem very risky and dangerous to some, but if you just take your time and find some grasping and are down to get a little muddy you'll be fine. You can wash yourself when you get down. Do not rely on the ropes when going down or up. If you are going to use them though, make sure you're using them one person at a time. I would say the hardest part is walking into the water area as it is very rocky and slippery. It is better to crawl into the water and out of the water. Hope this helps some of you! Definitely a lifetime experience.

hiking
2 months ago

Come early because parking is limited. This hike is ridiculous! But so worth it. Like everyone says, the hike is technically "illegal" but it's more of a guideline and hundreds of people complete the hike daily. Swimming at the bottom of the falls is a must do. Seeing the falls from the overlook just doesn't do it justice. I watched a husband and wife complete the hike up and down the steep walls with their three kids (of which the oldest was maybe 5). This hike is must easier if you have hiking boots although some individuals were barefoot or in sandals. Plan on swimming once you've made it to the falls! It's really a unique experience.

There was also a local man with one tooth and pet pig weaving baskets nearby. He's an interesting character to talk to!

2 months ago

Such an exciting climb down (you literally rock climb using the earth’s roots, rock formations and then even ropes they’ve placed for you to get down). It’s a little dangerous so take your time and don’t rush, especially if muddy and slippery. This hike is technically “illegal” but is soooo worth it. We swam in the most beautiful waterfall with not many people around us - it felt surreal. Go early in the AM to avoid crowds. Lovedddd this hike!

2 months ago

this Trail is accessible buy hopping over the Stonewall where it turns to chain link on the right side when facing the Falls. There are three paths down, the middle path is the least strenuous. it is very Steep and muddy, and there are ropes to assist you in getting down. The payoff is beautiful, as you get to swim in the pool at the bottom of the falls. They say it is illegal so be warned.

hiking
2 months ago

BEWARE: While this trail was beautiful, we were met on the way back up by very angry and threatening Kaua’i PD. They said that it is a federal and arrest-able offense to be down there. Do not risk getting arrested to do this trail.

hiking
2 months ago

Like everyone says, “it’s illegal” but what fun is “legal”? All jokes aside. There are 2 different ways to get down the initial 30-40 feet. One way is very steep and the other is definitely doable with very little effort. There are many ropes in place to use as a guide and or leverage. But I’m not sure how long they have been there, so be careful. Once at the bottom, the view of the waterfall is gorgeous. There is a waist deep water crossing to get to the main part of the landing. But you can stay on the one side and stay dry. The hike isn’t too long but is a steep climb. Enjoy the views and relax. Aloha and mahalo.

hiking
2 months ago

Good views from the bottom but the hike is extremely difficult and pretty dangerous. No wonder it’s illegal. It’s easier to do if you have someone to follow because there isn’t a clear path since this isn’t an actual hike. Extremely muddy and it’s best to just go up/down barefoot. Luckily it’s a pretty short hike! Going down is much much harder than going up. There’s ropes that can help but do NOT depend on them. They are pretty thin and can snap easily. It’s better to rely on the trees or rocks for support. We did go in the water to swim. The rocks were obviously very slippery and the water was freezing so didn’t stay in for longer than 2 minutes. We’re happy we did this hike but I wouldn’t do it again.

2 months ago

Good views from the bottom but the hike is extremely difficult and pretty dangerous. No wonder it’s illegal. It’s easier to do if you have someone to follow because there isn’t a clear path since this isn’t an actual hike. Extremely muddy and it’s best to just go up/down barefoot. Luckily it’s a pretty short hike! Going down is much much harder than going up. There’s ropes that can help but do NOT depend on them. They are pretty thin and can snap easily. It’s better to rely on the trees or rocks for support.

hiking
3 months ago

Did it with three kids. 8, 6, 2. Took 15 minutes one way. Beautiful and fun to swim at the bottom!

3 months ago

Very muddy the day we went. We had hiking boots, maybe water shoes would have been better. The ropes were very helpful. Go at your own risk; we entered hopping the fence at the end of the parking area. Overall fun, short hike. view at the waterfall base is gorgeous and refreshing.

3 months ago

Well worth it!

hiking
3 months ago

It's muddy and steep some spots you are climbing down the cliff. But it is not extremely dangerous. I took my 6 yrs old daughter and she did it with a little bit of help. It's worth the hike. I wouldn't recomend it for younger kids. FYI you can not swim in it so don't bother bringing swimming suits. Go at your own risk, since there's plenty of signs saying so and you are literally jumping a fence.

hiking
3 months ago

We went during a really rainy stretch (mid-April 2018) and the hike down was extra muddy and the falls kind of merged into one giant wall of water. To get down we hopped the stone wall at the spot where it met the chain link fence (away from the parking lot). Followed the right path next to the chain link fence a few feet and started our descent into the cold mud-slicked canopy. Lots of tree roots and the occasional rope to help. Watershoes were great for getting us down there. The pool was too frigid to swim in and the current strong. Absolutely beautiful and would like to do it again in different weather.

4 months ago

Go ahead and hike to the bottom. It’s worth it.

4 months ago

I feel like I shouldn't even check in here as we didn't actually do the hike. Wouldn't have known where the trail was if one of the local vendors at the top hadn't told us. Another vendor told us we would get fined $300 for doing the hike. That in conjunction with the heavy rain we've had the past couple days, we chickened out, but the views are still gorgeous from the top. I'm starting to think it would've been worth it. Next time!

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