An online magazine with information related to attractions, lodging, dining,
and travel resources in selected areas of Hawaii

Kauai - Opaekaa Falls & Wailua Falls

Opaekae Falls on the Wailua River is one of the most accessible of Kauai's major waterfalls and it is well worth taking the time to stop by for a view. Apparently, a long time ago, there were huge numbers of native freshwater shrimp in the river and they could easily be seen in the water cascading down to the pool below, hence the name which means "rolling shrimp" in Hawaiian. While we were at the falls, we also saw a number of beautiful tropicbirds soaring around in the canyon below, but unfortunately they were a bit far away and we had not brought our binoculars (big mistake). One of the interesting things about water flowing through lava is that the stream cuts multiple channels through the rock. This accounts for the fact that so many of Hawaii's waterfalls are multiple channel cascades. Opaekae Falls is another one of this ilk and depending on the spot from which you view it, and the amount of water flowing over it, it is either a single, dual or triple cascade.

Wailua Falls is located on a tributary of the Wailua River and is easily accessible by car although parking is sometimes difficult and traffic at the end of the road can be very congested. The pool below the falls is a popular swimming hole for the locals, but the trail down is said to be very difficult. (We did not have time to investigate.) One of the facts of life during a visit to Kauai is that you will see a lot of extremely beautiful waterfalls. It is horrible to admit this, but it is possible to become jaded with crystal clear water streaming over rough lava rock in two alabaster white cascades to plunge 173 feet to a magnificent storybook pool below. Picture an azure blue sky above, verdant forest surrounding on all sides and a cool mist rising from … Anyway, hopefully, you get the idea. Kauai is so full of beauty that eventually you say things like "oh, look, another waterfall." It's criminal, but true. Wailua Falls is "just" another magnificent dual cascade waterfall a bit further up the road from the last one, which in this case is Opaekae Falls. The fellow that piloted our helicopter tour told us that some scientist a while back had tried to count waterfalls in Kauai. He recognized the futility of the effort when he hit four thousand and quit. Based on what we saw during this trip, we believe the story.

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