Upper Ho’opi’i Falls in July 2015
I’m honestly a bit torn about what to say about Ho’opi’i Falls. It’s a bit confusing about whether you can access the falls or not, though recent searches seem to indicate that many people are still visiting the falls. So why the confusion?
Searches for Ho’opi’i Falls are unclear about whether falls are on private property or owned by the state. (An article about the closure no longer exists…) If anyone definitively knows more, feel free to leave a comment. I know that when I visited in 2015, it was a bit confusing about where to start the hike. I was following a guidebook (that is known to lead people to places they shouldn’t necessarily be), and it mentioned a fence. Well, the start of the hike, was not at the obvious fence, but a less obvious set of metal posts. I think what has happened is that many people were starting at the wrong place and crossing private property. There are some interesting comments if you look around online.
So it seems that as long as you stay on a designated trail, there aren’t any major issues. Follow any signs and closures. If open, you’ll find two separate waterfalls. I’ve decided to post both of them here instead of creating unique entries. The first falls upstream was very busy and a number of locals were jumping off the falls. It made a bit hard to capture the falls without someone in the way. The second falls downstream required a bit of downhill hiking, but was more isolated. (Jumping there would have caused serious injury.) Both drops are scenic in their own ways.
- I’ll let you find the directions to this one another way just in case there’s an issue. You can see on the map below the general location of the falls.
Accessibility: 8/10 (Easy/Moderate), some sites seem to mention this being difficult…apparently I didn’t think so…
Height: Upper Falls 15′, Lower Falls 30′
Length of Hike: 2.2 miles round-trip
Lower Ho’opi’i Falls
Where in the World is Ho’opi’i Falls?
I was driving along Kauai’s northern shore hoping I might be able to find some waterfalls. One of the books I was using mentions a few different falls, but I honestly couldn’t find any safe way to stop at most of them. I knew that Queen’s Bath Falls existed, and so I decided to search for that instead (since it seemed to be an easier stop than some other falls).
After driving and finding the parking area (which was almost full, even on this moderately rainy day), I set off to to the falls. I found the hike to be very enjoyable. Along the way, you pass by a few other drops along the creek that turns into Queen’s Bath Falls. Once you arrive at the falls, it is really a beautiful view. The falls are headed into the Pacific Ocean, though it doesn’t look like it because there’s a cove of sorts that the water falls into. You get an awesome view of the ocean, the shoreline, and the falls. When I visited, there were a number of turtles in that cove, and it was awesome to watch them.
As you approach the ocean, I would suggest being cautious and careful. I didn’t find it to be particularly dangerous, but I could see how not being careful could lead to some issues. At the right time, it appears you can swim/bathe in the pool that’s formed near the falls. When I was there, the waves would have made that wildly impossible to do, so I didn’t even think twice about it. Be careful!
- Follow HI-56 north along the shoreline. Enter the town of Princeville.
- In the town of Princeville, turn right along Ka Haku Road (if you were headed north).
- Drive along Ka Haku Road past some different condo/resort areas.
- Turn right onto Punahele Road. This is a road that forms a loop.
- Continue along Punahele Road to where it turns into Kapiolani Loop. You will see a dirt parking area to your left, enough for maybe 8 or 9 cars. You should not be parking in front of any houses/condos.
- From there, you should see a trail head at the right side of the parking lot. It’s a pretty easy trail to follow once you’ve found it.
Accessibility: 7/10 (easy/moderate)
Distance of Hike: 0.6 miles round-trip
Height: ~15′ per drop (would depend on tides)
Where in the World is Queen’s Bath Falls?: map
Queen’s Bath Falls in July 2015
Waipo’o Falls in very early July 2015
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.
- From Lihue, head west along HI-50.
- 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.
- 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.)
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy)
Distance of Hike: Roadside view
Where in the World is Waipo’o Falls?
Upper Pua’a Ka’a Falls in March 2012
If you ever have the chance to drive the Highway to Hana, you should. I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I didn’t find it to be nearly as terrifying as I had expected it to be. (Continue south past Hana and along the Piilani Highway to experience a higher level of scary driving.) There are many very easy-to-visit waterfalls along the Hana Highway, and two of these falls can be found at the Pua’a Ka’a State Wayside, which you’ll find between mile markers 22 and 23.
The lower falls is very easy to see after crossing the road, while the upper falls requires more effort. I’m having a little difficulty remembering the exact details, though. In the book I was using, it (and other sources) has suggested that you have to cross an elevated waterway to get to the falls, and that it can be scary for people afraid of heights. I do remember crossing over some man-made “object” to get to the falls, but I don’t remember it being particularly scary. (And I’m pretty scared of heights, so if it had been that terrifying, I would have turned around or remembered it much more distinctly.)
So there are a few options…Either I stopped and photographed the falls before actually crossing this scary viaduct, or there was more grating on it than in previous times, so I didn’t feel as nervous. Or there could be been another path? I remember even finding another small waterfall in the vicinity. While I don’t remember feeling scared, I do remember it being muddy! If you can find your way to the falls, I think it’s definitely worth it. It isn’t extremely tall, but I still felt it was very beautiful, as are most things on Maui!
- Start your journey along the Highway to Hana, heading east along the road toward Hana.
- Once you’re on the official road, watch the road mile markers. You’ll find the wayside between miles 22 and 23.
- I don’t remember which side parking was on, but both falls will be on the south side of the road, so head that direction (you’ll be heading upstream). You should see the lower falls very quickly.
- Keep continuing, crossing whatever is necessary, until you reach the Upper Falls.
Accessibility: 6/10 (moderate)
Length of Hike: 0.5 miles round-trip
Where in the World is Upper Pua’a Ka’a Falls?
Upper Waikani Falls in March 2012
The Hana Highway is one of those “adventures” on the island of Maui that I found to be less daunting than I had expected. I’ve driven on some narrow roads before, and because there seemed to be a certain level of common sense about speed limits, the Hana Highway was a stunningly beautiful drive without a significant amount of stress. (There were some equally narrow roads in Puerto Rico where speed limits were ignored and garbage trucks were barreling down the road at 45+ mph! I was actually more nervous driving south of Hana and along the Piilani Highway.)
So if you decide to drive the Hana Highway, you’ll find that some stops are very easy. And then there are attractions like Upper Waikani Falls (aka Three Bears Falls). There’s no parking near the falls, the road is narrow (as is expected), and you have to make that quick decision about whether you’re going to stop or not. I must have been very lucky, and knew that it was coming up on my journey. I slowed down, and managed to park off of the road just enough that the rental car wasn’t in any immediate danger. There were four or five other cars there also. I didn’t stay for a long time, nor did I try to get to the base of the falls (which I’m not sure I would try). I did end up capturing another beautifully green waterfall along the Hana Highway.
- This one’s pretty easy! Drive along HI-360 (the Hana Highway). You’ll find Upper Waikani Falls in between mile markers 19 and 20. Slow down as you approach the falls. (If you cross the bridge over the river, you’ve obviously gone to far, and good luck turning back!)
Accessibility: 10/10 (easy, if you can find parking, though it is “roadside”)
Length of Hike: Roadside
Where in the World is Upper Waikani Falls?
On the Wailuku River, there are a number of impressive waterfalls. Rainbow Falls is definitely the most popular on the river, and you’ll see many other people there. If you continue driving along the road that runs adjacent to the river, you’ll arrive at two other waterfalls. Wai’ale Falls is easy to view, and is also pretty impressive.
Pe’epe’e Falls is an impressive waterfall, but you can only see it from a distance. There is a designated area for a geological feature known as the Boiling Pots, which I didn’t find to be particularly interesting. And from this viewing area, you can also get a glimpse of Pe’epe’e Falls. Now, there are signs that clearly indicate that you should not go beyond the fence because it’s dangerous. And I decided to heed the warnings on those signs, and I am suggesting that you follow those signs too. I would never want to hear that somebody got hurt while deciding to do something possibly dangerous because a website indicated it might be ok. So you might be able to get a better view, but realize it can start raining at any time, and it can rain intensely, and the river conditions can change dramatically. So while it looks ok now, it might not be 15 minutes from now. Use common sense, people!
- The main road, Highway 11, “starts” in Hilo (though it encircles most of the island). At mile marker 0, you begin heading west and then northwest for a ways. Stay on the main road, which will also be called Mamalahoa Highway.
- After just a few miles or less, you will come to the junction of Highway 200 on your left. Turn left onto Highway 200, also known as Waianuenue Avenue.
- Follow the signs to Rainbow Falls. After stopping there, continue along Waianuenue Avenue. You’ll pass by a hospital along the way, and then enter a residential area.
- You’ll come to Pe’epe’e Falls Road, and turn right onto this road. This will lead directly into the parking area to view the Boiling Pots and the falls.
Accessibility: 10/10 (Don’t go over the fence!)
Length of Hike: negligible
Pe’epe’e Falls in March 2013
Where in the World is Pe’epe’e Falls?
Makahiku Falls in March 2012
On the southeastern side of Maui, there are a significant number of waterfalls, and many of them are found in Haleakala National Park. The main attraction is Waimoku Falls, which is over 400′ tall. The hike to Waimoku Falls is extremely enjoyable, and along the way you encounter other waterfalls. In a separate place, some of them would get their own names, though they don’t here because of their neighbor. One waterfall, though, does have a name, and it is Makahiku Falls.
Makahiku Falls is tall, though not as tall as Waimoku Falls. It is actually much wider than Waimoku Falls. If you’re like me, you’ll be amazed by the falls, and yet be somewhat disappointed. As you might be able to tell in the picture, it is rather difficult to capture the whole of Waimoku Falls. There are a number of trees and shrubs blocking the view. The shape of the cliffs also seem to obscure the base of the falls. If I remember correctly, I tried to find a different vantage point from the trail that led to a better shot, but couldn’t find that spot. So in the end, I settled for most of the falls. If you’ve come this far, though, you shouldn’t be deterred from seeking out Makahiku Falls!
- From Hana, head south along the Highway to Hana. Be careful, but there really isn’t any other option!
- Pull into the visitor’s center parking lot for Haleakala National Park. Pay the fee, and then follow the signs to Waimoku Falls. It is about one-quarter of the way to Waimoku Falls, or somewhere in that range.
Accessibility: 7/10 (Easy/Moderate)
Length of Hike: 1 mile round-trip to Makahiku Falls, 4 miles round-trip to Waimoku Falls
Where in the World is Makahiku Falls?