Wailua Falls is a beautiful 80 Foot (24.38 meter) waterfall located off of Highway 583 on the east side of Kauai and is easily viewed from a roadside lookout. This double waterfall was made famous when it was featured in the opening credits of the television show Fantasy Island from 1978 to 1984.
The waterfall changes dramatically and rapidly depending on the amount of rainwater flowing down the Wailua River from Mt. Waialeale. Although the water normally falls from two main channels from the top, in times of high water flow expands to the entire width of the river channel forming one large waterfall. Mornings are a nice time to photograph the falls when the sun is shining directly on them and you can get nice and dramatic pictures from the lookout at the parking lot.
Wailua Falls Height: Wailua Falls is about 80 feet (24.38 meters) tall. And yes, I've read the various websites and guide books claiming it to be over twice that high. Nonsense - it's 80 to 85 feet tops. Websites pegging it at 170 feet high are written by a bunch of ghost writers, each copying the other without ever seeing the falls.
Ancient Kauaian warriors proved their bravery by leaping from the top of the falls into the pool below. There are no statistics to show how many were killed or maimed doing this. Please stay behind the rock wall and don't go near the top of the falls as falling from the slippery rocks over the edge is a real possibility and has happened more than once in recent times.
Hiking to the Bottom: There is more than one way to get to the bottom of the falls. The most obvious is to hike/climb down a VERY steep, muddy and slippery trail that starts near the guardrail by the parking lot. THIS SHOULD NOT BE ATTEMPTED unless you are a mountain goat or a very hardy soul willing to go around fences, ignore the County's Keep Out signs, and risk life and limb doing it. Even if you don't get hurt, you'll get dirty, muddy and probably scratched up doing it. Another safer trail exists that starts just over a quarter mile back down the road. It's longer and the County doesn't like you to use it either, but it's less steep. I haven't done it, but it HAS to be better than the first one. Please also note that while it is pleasant, peaceful and beautiful at the top view area - there are 10 million mosquitoes within 5 feet of where my picture was taken at the bottom ...just sayin.
Driving Directions to Wailua Falls: Turn off Highway 56 a little north of Walmart and Wilcox Hospital onto Ma'alo Road. Head northwest for about 4 miles to the parking lot.
There aren't any restrooms, concessions, or guided walking tours. They aren't needed - after all, it's only 10 minute drive back to Walmart; or the hospital if you get hurt trying to get to the bottom of the falls. But there usually is a very talented local (and possibly homeless) man that weaves vegetation into baskets, bowls, hats, and grasshoppers that you can buy. They'll fade after a day or two, but they're neat while they last.
Pictures and Comments By Doug Porter
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