Each of the Hawaiian Islands has its own distinct landscape and feel, and Kauai’s lush greenery and waterfalls have earned it the nickname of the “Garden Isle.” Geographically the oldest of the islands, Kauai receives significantly much more rainfall than its neighbors. Here is where to see its most beautiful waterfalls.
A double-tiered waterfall that is considered one of the prettiest in Hawaii, Wailua Falls drops 85 feet (26 meters) before flowing into the Wailua River. The mist of the falls often creates the rainbows for which Kauai is famous, and if Wailua Falls looks familiar, it may be because it was featured in the opening credits of Fantasy Island. The falls are visible from the road, and they’re only a short drive from Lihue. A private tour can include these falls, plus other top Kauai spots.
At more than 150 feet (46 meters) in height, Opaekaa is one of the most famous Kauai waterfalls. Located at the edge of the town of Kapaa, the falls can be seen from various lookouts. A trip to the lookout point may be combined with other Kauai sites on a day trip.
This 300-foot (91-meter) waterfall is one of the island's tallest, and it requires an 8-mile (13-kilometer) round-trip hike to access it. Located on the Na Pali Coast, the falls can be accessed via the Kalalau Trail trailhead near Ke'e Beach. From there it's a strenuous (and often muddy) hike to Hanakapi'ai Beach where you'll then trek to the falls.
Another unique characteristic of Kauai is the ability to kayak its rivers, which you'll need to do to access these somewhat hidden falls. Also known as Uluwehi Falls, it's a 2-mile (3-kilometer) kayak trip down the Wailua River and then a short 1.5-mile (2.4-kilometer) hike to reach the site.
As a part of the Waimea Canyon State Park, Waipo'o Falls has some of the most spectacular views on the “Garden Island.” The falls can be seen from the road or visited on a moderate 3.2-mile (5.1-kilometer) round-trip hike.