With twin tails plummeting 85 feet into a shimmering pool below, the majestic Wailua Falls is a tropical oasis born to life as if out of a fantasy (and indeed it is, having served as the opening sequence for the popular 1970’s TV show Fantasy Island). Located below the rain-soaked flanks of Mt. Waialeale and near the convergence of the forks of the Wailua River, this incredible natural wonder is easily accessible and not to be missed. Parking at the scenic overlook offers incredible views of the falls which usually appear as twin cascades but can combine into a single cataclysm during periods of high flow, or even triple falls during periods of very heavy rainfall. For the best views we advise going early in the morning to dodge the crowds and catch a glimpse of a dazzling rainbow thanks to the morning sun shining through the spray and hanging mists.
The Wailua Falls: A Slice of Paradise
Wailua Falls is near the end of the South Fork of the Wailua River just before it converges with the North Fork at Fern Grotto. The majestic falls are powered by the more than 400″ of rainfall that drape the mountains every year. While the height of the cascade can be variable based on the amount of rain, it is not 200+ feet as reported in some guidebooks. From the drop-off to the pool is closer to 85′, still a daunting height when you consider ancient Hawaiian boys would jump from the falls to prove their manhood (this is now illegal, so don’t get any ideas). The pool is 30′ deep and a popular swimming spot, though strong currents near the base of the falls should be treated with caution.
The Wailua Falls hike is not illegal but the county highly discourages anyone from hiking to the collecting pool. If you do opt to make the trek, know that the first trail (closest to the parking lot) is to be avoided due to steep, muddy, and treacherous conditions. The second trail, a little way back down the road, is less steep, albeit longer and still not an easy hike.
The falls are located in Wailua River State Park, just a short drive from Līhu’e. Located above the town of Hanamaulu, it is a 1-hour drive from Princeville, 15 minutes from Līhu’e, and 40 minutes from Poipu. Take Kuhio Highway (HI-56) to State Hwy 583 (at mile marker 1). Follow to the end of the road where the parking lot awaits.
Wailua Falls is easily accessible and offers incredible views. Guided tours to the base of the falls are available, for those who wish to get close up but don’t feel comfortable hiking the muddy trails on their own. If you’re ready to explore this slice of paradise, book your stay in one of our gorgeous vacation rentals today! Don’t hesitate to contact our team for more suggestions on attractions, activities and events that will keep you busy during your stay.
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