I’ve been visiting Kauai for the past few days. It’s the third of the Hawaiian Islands I’ve visited, after Maui and the Big Island. On the other two islands, it seems to be very easy to find waterfalls. Here on Kauai, they exist, but they are a bit more hidden at times. So I have to admit I was a bit surprised when I stumbled upon Waipo’o Falls so easily.
I had been reading a book about Kauai, and knew that I could hike to the top of the Falls along the Canyon Trail. I’ll explain that in another post for Upper Waipo’o Falls because I feel there’s a distinct difference in terms of what you’ll experience on that hike. Part of the trick is that you can’t see Waipo’o Falls along the Canyon Trail leading to the crest of the falls. You can see a smaller waterfall further above.
So it ends up that the Waipo’o Falls you see here can be viewed directly from the main road. No hike is required! It also can be viewed from the lookout where the Canyon Trail starts. The best view are to be had somewhere around mile markers 10 to 12 on highway 550. You’ll be able to see the whole waterfall from a pull-out along the road. From the lookout between mile markers 13 and 14, you’ll be able to see maybe 2/3 of the Falls.
This is one of those waterfalls that’s definitely worth a visit. From what I understand, it’s best between December and early July, and then it tapers off in the later summer months. Even if you end up missing the falls, you’ll still be viewing Waimea Canyon, which is a stunningly beautiful place.
1) From Lihue, head west along HI-50.
2) Once you reach the town of Waimea, you have two options. In the town of Waimea, you can turn on HI-550 (Waimea Canyon Drive) and drive 10-12 miles along the road to get various views of the falls. The necessary pullouts will be to the right on the road.
3) You can also drive a few miles further along HI-50 to HI-552, and then head north along that road instead. I’m not really sure if there’s a benefit one way or the other. I took HI-552 on the way up and HI-550 on the way down. (HI-550 will lead past the small but wildly intriguing Red Dirt Falls, to be discussed in a future post.)
Distance of Hike: Roadside view
Where in the World is Waipo’o Falls?: map