Wailua River and Secret Falls

MODERATE 75 reviews

Wailua River and Secret Falls is a 6.1 mile heavily trafficked out and back trail located near Wailua, Hawaii that features a waterfall and is rated as moderate. The trail is primarily used for hiking, nature trips, fishing, and sea kayaking and is accessible year-round.

DISTANCE
6.1 miles
ELEVATION GAIN
465 feet
ROUTE TYPE
Out & Back

fishing

hiking

nature trips

paddle sports

river

views

waterfall

wildlife

muddy

no dogs

A 14 mile out and back kayak on the Wailua River with a short hike to the majestic Secret Falls. Start this 7-mile paddle by renting a kayak or joining a guided float. Launch your boat, and begin you paddle upstream through thick tropical vegetation. At 1.8 miles, you have the option of docking your boat and explore the Kamokila Hawaiian Village; a traditional Hawaiian village. Continue up the Wailua river until it splits and bear to the right. Paddle through dense vegetation then beach your kayak on the right bank. Walk west on the path. In .3 mile, cross the North Fork Wailua River (use the yellow rope that runs across tributary as a stabilizer). Continue to hike northwest through the dense jungle and along a narrow embankment that is full of gnarled roots and is often muddy (bring close toe sandals.) Continue following the trail along the river bank and pass a cement tower with a water level marker. Turn left; head away from the river, and climb up a short, steep, and often muddy embankment. At the top, cross a small stream and turn right, continuing on trail. Continue until you reach Secret Falls. Enjoy time soaking at the falls then retrace your steps to you boat. Kayak down stream and return to the boat launch (down stream is often more difficult then upstream especially with afternoon trade winds.)

1 day ago

Beautiful hike and the waterfall. We went with the tour guide and kayaks, highly recommended to use both. Our teenagers and 10yr old loved it

hiking
7 days ago

Great day paddle/hike into the island on the East side of Kauai. This area isn't as rainy as the Northern side around the Na'Pali Coast area but its still pretty wet. Rainy season is December so plan accordingly. It is very highly trafficked so expect to see a good amount of people en route to the waterfall and back. The top of the hike at the waterfall can get crowded as well but if you're patient the large groups will leave together and you can spend some time at the waterfall, swim, get photos, etc...

Kauai gets hit with an average of 460 inches of rain every year so be prepared for damp if not wet and muddy conditions when hiking. Plan and bring old clothes/shoes that can get dirty and enjoy the experience! We hiked this in July and had mostly dry conditions on the trail with some muddy parts towards the end and around the waterfall. There is one large river crossing that has a fairly strong current and is about 2.5 ft deep at the deepest. There is a rope to hold on too but it can still be difficult as there are usually multiple people on the rope at one time.

We chose to go unguided with paddle boards as they were more readily available last-minute than the rental kayaks. We didn't have any issues finding our way as the guided tours are all over and you can just follow them. Be prepared to spend about 45 minutes paddling in and 60-90 minutes paddling out as the wind becomes a factor. There is no current on the river. For those of you wanting a list of what to bring/wear I recommend shoes or water-shoes, not flip-flops (Keen, Teva, etc...) for both paddling and hiking, a hat, wear swimwear and bring a pair of dry clothes to leave in the car. Finally bring some snacks and a camelback with water otherwise various members of your party will probably end up hangry and thirsty on the way back.

As always take necessary precautions when hiking anywhere new - do your research before hiking. Flash flooding seems to be the biggest danger on these trails aside from the typical hiking perils so just be cautions and have fun!

22 days ago

Incredibly dramatic and stunning! We went with a tour. Be careful if you go after a rainfall. Flash floods occur quickly.
Must do!

hiking
2 months ago

One of my favourite quick hikes in Kauai. So beautiful!

hiking
4 months ago

Paddling on the Wailua River was nice but I would not do it again considering the slippery and muddy trails, crossing the tributary with a rope, the crowds at the falls plus the costs of renting the kayak with a guide.

hiking
4 months ago

Out and back two mile kayak trip was nice. 1 mile out and back hike to the falls was VERY muddy (ie slippery) and not easy for a 69-year-old MS patient. You cross one fairly rapid river and two streams.. lots of rocks and tree roots. Nevertheless, it was well worth the effort. The falls were truly spectacular.

4 months ago

Mud, mud, mud. Won't be back.

4 months ago

Nice day trip but don’t go after it’s rained - way too muddy. Seen too many people and kids slip and fall. Lots of tour groups so secret falls was a bit crowded. Being able to kayak on the Wailua River was pretty awesome!

hiking
5 months ago

This was one of the best hikes we’ve been on in Kauai. We used Wailua River Kayaks and would highly recommend them. We were the first ones down the river and the paddle up was really nice.... we were also the first ones to the falls so we were able to get some really nice photos. It’s definitely worth doing first thing in the morning because the rivers gets pretty crowded.

hiking
5 months ago

Trail head only accessible by kayaking or paddle boarding there first! Best to go early morning when the river isn’t congested. It was a bit muddy so wear sandals with ankle straps or water shoes. There’s a part where you need to cross a river that can go up maybe thigh high. Use of bug spray is also recommended!

6 months ago

leave super early and experience the water looking like glass. very peaceful and quiet truly breathtaking

6 months ago

We have done this hike a few times...loved it every time. We went 2 days ago and it was very muddy and slick. Bring shoes or water socks to get wet and dirty. Beautiful scenery and falls at the end. The trail head is only accessible by kayak/paddle board.

hiking
6 months ago

The whole family had a great time kayaking and hiking the trail. "Embrace the mud" is the motto of the hike. Swimming in Secret Falls was great.

6 months ago

Save yourself some time and trouble, do more research than I did. You can’t access this trail without a kayak or paddle board. The trailhead is about 2mi up river from the indicator on this app. Only giving low rating because I don’t have a way to access the trail.

6 months ago

All the mud so be prepared that your shoes will be stepping in huge mud puddles but it made it fun and the fall is worth it when you swim at the end!

7 months ago

Did the 2 mile kayak, 1 mike hike to falls. Very cool at the falls. Wear the right shoes because it will be muddy.

hiking
7 months ago

I did this one on a SUP and it was amazing. Water shoes definitely make it easier and pretty level the whole way. The boards get slick with so many people walking on them so be careful. The falls at the end is amazing.

hiking
8 months ago

Very lovely kayak in to the trail (we were lucky and had great weather - very little wind), then a slick but fairly easy walk in to the falls. We arrived at the falls by 9:30am, so it wasn’t too busy. A few random rain showers added to the slippery trail, but that’s to be expected.

8 months ago

Easy hike after a moderate kayak paddle with great falls you can swim under at the end!

8 months ago

Incredible experience!

8 months ago

This is one of my favorites!
We went on Monday and it was quite muddy but that jus made for more adventure!
The way back it started pouring rain, it was crazy and awesome at the same time! We laughed our way back down the river.
I highly recommend this trail! When you get to that waterfall and get to swim in it... just wow!

9 months ago

We hiked it with a tour of kayaking and a hike. water was murky from the days before rain but it still was nice. the waterfall was awesome, and even though the water wasn't clear it did not ruin my experience. but after the rain fall it was extremely muddy so where the proper shoes and I suggest hiking sticks to help with your balance.

9 months ago

We started at the beginning of the river. We kayaked in 1.7 miles. That was a good work out. The hike was easy, but slippery. I wouldn't recommend little children. The water fall features a lagoon you can swim in. It's beautiful. Total hiking distance is just over 2 miles and the kayaking is around 3 miles. The trip back down the river was tough. We had the wind working against us. It was worth the work out though.

hiking
9 months ago

Pretty easy hike to the falls, but it ain't so secret anymore.

9 months ago

This trail was somewhat easy and super fun. We booked a trip with Duke's Kayaking Adventures and had a blast. We are lunch at the secret falls and swam in it. It was easy and beautiful.

11 months ago

Sweet adventure!
Tip: go on Sunday when there are no tours. Avoid cruise boat days. And if you need to go during a touristy day, do what we did and go about an hour before sunset. That way you'll see the groups all paddling back and you'll have the trail and fall to yourself.

11 months ago

What a trail! We did the kayak-in-half-way-for-shorter-trail option. It was absolutely gorgeous. The falls are breathtaking at the end, it's a great swimming hole, and there was lots of beautiful vegetation throughout. Only reason I dinged one star is that the trail was so muddy that it was borderline dangerous. Maybe not the best trail for older folks for that reason. 3 people in our group slipped and fell. Thankfully my dad was not one of them!!

paddle sports
Saturday, July 08, 2017

We did a shortened version of this from the Hawaiian village. Kayaked a short ways to the falls trailhead. Hike to falls is quite easy with a few tricky places. After that went to the fern grotto which was pretty. A restroom is available at the fern grotto. The Hawaiian village was a really nice small attraction. Really interesting to us because most fruit trees were represented, and our daughter was able to feed tons of chickens and some gorgeous peacocks. Staff at the village were exceptionally laid back and helpful. This was one of my favorite days because you got a little bit of everything. Learned about some Hawaiian culture as well.

Friday, July 07, 2017

The kayak trip was fantastic! Our guide, Celeste, gave us a lot of really interesting information about the area and it's history too!
The kayak trip wasn't bad at all - about two miles up the river (which was calm and peaceful). Then we got to Secret Falls, which was absolutely beautiful! This was an amazing find, I'd definitely do it again.

Tuesday, July 04, 2017

Great kayak trip and little morning hike. Took us about 3 hours total round trip so if you rent a kayak for a half day you have plenty of time to take your time. I recommend going on the morning. Less wind and less traffic.

Load More