19 Best Waterfalls in Kauai: How to Find Them (+Map & Photos!)

Best waterfalls in Kauai blog cover image.  Text overlaying an image of Wailua Falls with a double rainbow at the base of it.

In this guide, you will discover the complete list of the 19 best waterfalls in Kauai to explore on your vacation to the Garden Isle.

Most visitors of the Hawaiian Island of Kauai are after more than just resorts and beaches. Those that choose “the rainy island” over the more popular destinations of Oahu, Maui, and Kona typically appreciate the unspoiled nature and lush beauty that exists here.

Of the many incredible natural marvels to be explored, these Kauai waterfalls demand a spot on your Hawaii itinerary. Discover the exact locations, how to visit, and photos of the Top 10 falls below.

Before you begin, you may want to load some of our other guides to Kauai to help plan your upcoming vacation:

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Complete List of Waterfalls in Kauai

  1. Wailua Falls
  2. Waipo’o Falls (Waimea Canyon)
  3. Queen’s Bath Falls
  4. ‘Opaeka’a Falls
  5. Waiʻahuʻakua Falls
  6. Manawaiopuna Falls (aka Jurassic Park Falls)
  7. Red Dirt Waterfall
  8. Na Pali Coast Falls
  9. Ho’opi’i Falls
  10. Hanakapiai Falls
  11. Uluwehi Falls (Secret Falls)
  12. Hanakoa Falls
  13. Kipu Falls
  14. Kilauea Falls
  15. Kalihiwai Falls
  16. Mount Waialeale Falls
  17. Hinalele Falls
  18. Ho‘ole‘a Falls
  19. Unnamed Twin Falls

Kauai Waterfalls Map

The map below shows the location ofthe best Kauai waterfalls, all of which having been mentioned in this post.  Click here or on the image below to open the map in Google Maps.

Map of the best waterfalls in Kauai

Top 10 Best Waterfalls in Kauai

Chasing waterfalls is one of the best things you can do in Kauai. The Garden Isle is home to some of the best waterfalls in Hawaii, but also some of the most challenging to access.

Of those that can be visited, these are the best waterfalls in Kauai that you can explore.

1. Wailua Falls

The best waterfall on the island of Kauai is Wailua Falls, aka Fantasy Island Falls.
The best waterfall on the island of Kauai is Wailua Falls, aka Fantasy Island Falls.

Wailua Falls is the best waterfall in Kauai. Not only is it among the most easily accessed, available for a top-down view from the parking lot, but it is also set in a pristine setting. More appealing still, the spray from the waterfall creates stunning rainbows for much of the day.

You may also hear Wailua Falls referred to as Fantasy Island Falls, and it’s not hard to see why.

How to Get to Wailua Falls

There is ample parking available at the top of the falls as well as a primitive trail to the bottom that is no longer open. Despite the closure, people brave the steep, muddy hike by the dozen daily and it is not uncommon to see 30-50 people spending the day at the base of the falls.

2. Waipo’o Falls (Waimea Canyon)

A rainbow decorates Waipo'o Falls in the Waimea Canyon.
A rainbow decorates Waipo’o Falls in the Waimea Canyon.

One of the absolute best things to do on a visit to Kauai is to explore Waimea Canyon, also known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” While bouncing from viewpoint to viewpoint, you may notice a waterfall off in the distance (though it may be dry in the summer). This 800-foot cascade is Waipo’o Falls, and it is spectacular.

Waipo’o Falls is actually one of many waterfalls in the Waimea Canyon, but it is the largest and most visible. The most complete view is from the official “Waimea Canyon Overlook.”

How to Get to Waipo’o Falls

While most simply observe the waterfall from afar, you can hike a 3 mile roundtrip trail to the top of Waipo’o Falls from Koke’e State Park via the “Canyon Trail” trailhead. The parking area is located off of Koke’e Road located at 22°06’34.4″N 159°40’10.0″W.

However, note there is no way to access the bottom of the falls.

You can also experience incredible views of Waipo’o Falls and Waimea Canyon from the air. Consider a sightseeing flight or doors-off helicopter tour for a truly memorable Kauai experience!

3. Queen’s Bath Falls

Queens Bath Waterfall is a small but beautiful, tropical cascade in Kauai.
Queens Bath Waterfall is a small but beautiful, tropical cascade in Kauai.

Queens Bath is more famous for the natural pools that form during low tide as well as the dramatic show that occurs during high tides, but it is also home to one of the best waterfalls in Kauai.

The Queens Bath Waterfall technically consists of both an upper falls and lower falls, though the lower falls is more easily visited and more photogenic. It is located along the main trail just as you reach the ocean.

How to Get to Queens Bath Falls

Parking will be the most difficult part of getting to Queens Bath Falls as the trailhead is in a residential neighborhood. Use Google Maps to find the Queens Path trail, then walk the (muddy) 0.5 mile trail to the ocean.

4. ‘Opaeka’a Falls

The view of 'Opaeka’a Waterfall in Kauai from the overlook.
The view of ‘Opaeka’a Waterfall in Kauai from the overlook.

‘Opaeka’a Falls is another one of the best Kauai waterfalls that is fed by the Wailua River. Located just minutes up the road from Wailua Falls, this popular destination is a favorite for tourists who wish to experience the natural beauty of the Garden Isle.

The 150-foot waterfall flows through the lush, green jungle with the mountains looming majestically behind.

How to Get to ‘Opaeka’a Falls

You can view the waterfall easily from the ‘Opaeka’a Falls View parking area. As is the case with nearly every waterfall in Kauai, however, the trail to the waterfall is no longer technically open and has become quite dangerous since no longer being maintained. For this reason, it is recommended you enjoy the scenery from the viewpoint.

5. Waiʻahuʻakua Falls

Waiʻahuʻakua Falls spills into a collapsed sea cave on the Na Pali Coast.
Waiʻahuʻakua Falls spills into a collapsed sea cave on the Na Pali Coast.

The only way to see the Waiʻahuʻakua Falls is by booking one of the boat tours (or having access to your own boat, of course!).

The Na Pali coast is amazing enough already, but seeing this waterfall spill right into a collapsed sea cave and into the deep blue water of the Pacific Ocean was like a dream. There are a few different waterfalls within sea caves along the coast, but Waiʻahuʻakua Falls at Two Door Sea Caves is the most impressive!

How to Get to the Waiʻahuʻakua Falls

Unless you have a boat of your own, you will have to book a small boat tour of the Na Pali coast. However, be aware the catamarans will not enter the caves!

6. Manawaiopuna Falls (aka Jurassic Park Falls)

Manawaiopuna Falls was used for filming Jurassic Park as is seen in the distance.
Manawaiopuna Falls was used for filming Jurassic Park as is seen in the distance.

The Jurassic Park Waterfall of Kauai, locally known as Manawaiopuna Falls, is a large waterfall located in the Na Pali Cliffs on the west coast. The only way to see it from the land is to take the Kalepa Ridge Trail, but even then it is a speck in the distance.

Up close, this towering waterfall is actually one of the most impressive on the island. Although even from afar, it adds a beautiful focal point to the sheer, colorful cliffs.

How to Get to Manawaiopuna Falls

The only way to get to the Jurassic Park Waterfall is via a helicopter tour. The best-known company for offering this experience is Island Helicopters Kauai (book the Jurassic Falls Landing Adventure which allows you to land at Manawaiopuna Falls!).

7. Red Dirt Waterfall

Red Dirt Waterfall is one of the small but photogenic waterfalls in Kauai.

The small but charismatic “Red Dirt Waterfall” is a roadside feature along the road through Waimea Canyon. A small stream spills over the red volcanic dirt for which Kauai has become famous.

How to Get to Red Dirt Waterfall

The waterfall is located off of State Hwy 550 through the Waimea Canyon and can be seen from the road. If you want to stop and have a closer look, you can find it on Google Maps by searching “Red Dirt Waterfall” and parking at the “Stream and Canyon Lookout.”

8. Na Pali Coast Falls

One of the best waterfalls in Kauai spilling into the Pacific Ocean on the Na Pali Coast.
A waterfall spilling into the Pacific Ocean on the Na Pali Coast.

If you didn’t have enough reason to visit the Na Pali Coast, add “waterfall chasing to your list.” While many of these are seasonal, it is hard to describe the beauty of the waterfalls that occasionally find their way to the Pacific Ocean after a steep journey down from the sheer cliffs.

How to Get to the Na Pali Coast Waterfalls

Like with the Waiʻahuʻakua Falls, you can only see the Na Pali Coast Falls by boat tour.

9. Ho’opi’i Falls

Long exposure photography of Ho'opi'i Falls.
Ho’opi’i Falls feels like a scene from the garden of Eden.

The tranquil, paradisiacal feel of Ho’opi’i Falls makes it a top contender for the most beautiful waterfalls in Kauai. While it is not the largest, it is among the most photogenic and less touristy falls on the island.

While tourists don’t always find this hidden gem, the locals love it! It is a favorite spot for cliff jumping or just cooling off on a hot afternoon.

While this is not “the” Jurassic Falls Waterfall, the scene depicting the Amber Mine was filmed at Ho’opi’i Falls.

How to Get to Ho’opi’i Falls

You can walk to the waterfall via the Ho’opi’i Falls Trail near the town of Kapa’a (search Google Maps for Ho’opi’i Falls Trail Head.) The total hike is 2.4 miles roundtrip with a 75m incline.

10. Hanakapiai Falls

Hanakapiai Falls is one of the more challenging waterfalls in Kauai to hike to.
Hanakapiai Falls is one of the more challenging waterfalls in Kauai to hike to.

In order to reach Hanakapiai Falls, you will need to hike a total of 9.2 miles out and back along the Na Pali Coast. At 300 feet, this is also one of the taller falls you can hike to on the island.

Permits are not required for hiking the trail to Hanakapiai Falls, but are for overnight backpacking and some of the further destinations along the trail.

How to Get to Hanakapiai Falls

You reach the waterfall by taking the Kalalau Trail near Ke’e Beach. You will see signs for permit requirements, but these are not necessary for the hike to the waterfall as long as you are out and back the same day. The hike is over 4 miles each way with about a 750-foot elevation gain.

Photographing the Best Waterfalls in Kauai

While it is possible to capture long exposure photographs of waterfalls on your iPhone using the Live Mode option, for the best possible photos you may want to consider a few key pieces of photography gear:

  • Camera: I use the Sony a7riii and have been in love with it ever since the first photo I took with it. However, for beginners you may wish to consider an entry level DSLR. This will allow you to start getting to grips with manual settings and decide whether photography is something you enjoy enough to invest in.
  • Lens: The lens I use most frequently is the Sony FE 24-105mm F4 G OSS as the zoom lens allows for the most diversity. I also often use the Laowa 15mm F2 for shots that require a wider angle.
  • Tripod: A tripod is essential if you want to create a long exposure waterfall image. When traveling, I use the Manfrotto Be Free as it’s lightweight and easy to carry on longer hikes. For times when I require something more stable, I use the Artcise Carbon Fiber Tripod.
  • Filters: A Circular Polarizing (CPL) filter (CPL) or Neutral Density (ND) filter are very useful for allowing slower shutter speeds and for cutting glare on the water. The best CPL and ND filters I have found are the quartz line from Polar Pro.

I have also put together a complete guide for photographing waterfalls where you can learn more about the equipment I use, composition, and other techniques for capturing beautiful photos.

Waterfalls in Kauai FAQs

These are the most frequently asked questions surrounding the waterfalls in Kauai:

How do you hike to Wailua Falls?

You can see Wailua Falls from the top without any hike whatsoever. To access the bottom of the falls, however, you have to take a steep and muddy trail next to the parking lot which the state of Hawaii no longer allows.

Wading through a rainbow at Wailua Falls.
Wading through a rainbow at Wailua Falls.

Which Waterfalls in Kauai can you swim at?
Can you swim in any waterfalls in Kauai?

Over/under photography of a girl swimming in the Wailua waterfall in Kauai.
Swimming in Wailua waterfall in Kauai.

You can safely and legally swim at any of the waterfalls in Kauai you are able to get to, but most of the trails to the base of waterfalls are no longer open to the public.

Currently, the best waterfalls to swim in Kauai that remain open are Secret Falls & Ho’opi’i Falls. Additionally, Wailua Falls is still the most popular waterfall in Kauai for swimming , despite access to the bottom being technically closed.

Which waterfalls in Kauai can you drive to?

You can drive to viewpoints of Wailua Falls, ‘Opaeka’a Falls, Waipo’o Falls, and Red Dirt Falls. Reaching the falls themselves, however, requires hiking for most waterfalls on Kauai and some even require a boat or helicopter.

Which waterfall in Kauai was Jurassic Park filmed at?

Manawaiopuna Falls was in the Jurassic Park films, seen here.
Manawaiopuna Falls was in the Jurassic Park films, seen here.

Manawaiopuna Falls, also known as Jurassic Park Falls, is the famous waterfall from the film. While you can see this waterfall in the distance from the Kalepa Ridge Trail, the only way to reach it is via helicopter.

Additionally, Jurassic Park filmed the Amber Mine scene at Ho’opi’i Falls on Kauai.

How many waterfalls are on the island of Kauai?

There are 19 named, perennial waterfalls on Kauai. They are:

  1. Wailua Falls
  2. Waipo’o Falls (Waimea Canyon)
  3. Queen’s Bath Falls
  4. ‘Opaeka’a Falls
  5. Waiʻahuʻakua Falls
  6. Manawaiopuna Falls (aka Jurassic Park Falls)
  7. Red Dirt Waterfall
  8. Na Pali Coast Falls
  9. Ho’opi’i Falls
  10. Hanakapiai Falls
  11. Uluwehi Falls (Secret Falls)
  12. Hanakoa Falls
  13. Kipu Falls
  14. Kilauea Falls
  15. Kalihiwai Falls
  16. Mount Waialeale Falls
  17. Hinalele Falls
  18. Ho‘ole‘a Falls
  19. Unnamed Twin Falls

Additionally, many of the island’s waterfalls are seasonal and occur within the sheer cliffs of the Na Pali coast.

Where can you see waterfalls in Kauai?

The Na Pali Coast, Waimea Canyon, and Kapa’a region are where you will find most of the waterfalls in Kauai. The most accessible are near Kapa’a, with viewpoints of the famous Wailua Falls and ‘Opaeka’a Falls located along the road and a short hike available to see Ho’opi’i Falls nearby.

Other Kauai Guides

Girl standing on the edge of the Na Pali Cliffs of Kauai on the Kalepa Ridge Trail.
Discover the best hike in Kauai (seen above) and other guides to the Garden Isle.

The waterfalls are just one natural feature worth exploring on the Garden Isle. For help planning your trip, you may find some of these other guides to Kauai useful:

Other Hawaii Guides

Secret Cove Beach sunset on the island of Maui.
Secret Cove is one of the must-see destinations in our Maui Itinerary Guide.

If you have any of the other Hawaiian Islands on your itinerary, be sure to check out our other regional guides:

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