“Don’t go chasing waterfalls. Please stick to the river and the lakes that you are used to”. Well I don’t know what TLC was talking about because in Kauai we went chasing some beautiful waterfalls. And it was worth every minute!
Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of Hawaii. Kauai is a small island, and the lookout point for the Canyon was a short hour drive from Lihue, where we were staying. So we drove the windy road up to the state park. The lookout point was crowded with people, but all for good reason. We walked up to the spectacular view of reds, browns, yellows and greens. I’ve never seen rock formations cut so clearly into the land in the way we saw on this canyon.
But in the distance, you could see the Waipoo Falls. This two tier waterfall is spectacular. It’s possible to hike to the falls, but many choose to see it via helicopter or from a distance from the Waimea Canyon look out like we did.
Na Pali Coast
During our sail and snorkel tour of the Na Pali Coast, we were treated to several small waterfalls along the way. From the ocean you can see the water that falls down the steep cliff sides, this impenetrable landscape that an only be accessed by boat. We loved spotting the water, and seeing the various places and caves it would come down.
On our last day in Kauai, we had no hotel room and a red-eye flight, so we decided to go chasing some more waterfalls. My husband kept talking about the Wailua Falls he saw when he was in Kauai last. So we googled the location, and were able to drive to a narrow road with little parking and very little space to turn around. We found our first available sort-of-legal parking on the side of the road, and walked down to the look out point. From there we saw two huge rushes of water, crashing down the brown rocks surrounded by lush green. This was clearly a popular spot with tourists and the parking (and tourists trying to park and turn on this road) was crazy. But there was a coconut vendor so we did get to eat and drink fresh coconut while there
On our way to what we thought was the parking lot to walk to Fern Grotto, we saw a sign for the Opeakaa Falls Scenic Lookout, and noticed the falls. This turned out to be the falls that my husband was remembering and I could see why. These are tall falls, with multiple falls over the side of the cliff. Here was more green and lush, with the rock vegitation clearly being fed by the waterfalls. The kids really enjoyed these falls, and noticing the shapes they found in he rock formations on the side.
Kamokila Hawaiian Village
Ok, this isn’t a waterfall but it was a unique discovery. We used Google Maps to drive to the Fern Grotto. However, the map lead us about a mile down a steep dirt road to a dirt parking lot and the Kamokila Hawaiian Village. After talking to the man at the entrance we found out this was a common issue. You can not drive and walk to the Fern Grotto, you need to take a boat cruise. Here was the closest location to the Fern Grotto, but you couldn’t actually reach it from there. You could rent paddle boards and kayaks and go near it, but you weren’t allowed to get out and explore. But for $5 an adult and $3 a child, you could enter and explore the history of Hawaii and its people. So we paid the price and explored the traditional Hawaiian village. The kids were disappointed but quickly picked up when they started to read and learn more. My daughter loved playing different roles in each hut, pretending to be the chief or the prime minster of the village. My social justice conscious son was appalled to see that the men had a separate eating hut, there was a mensuration hut for women, and that the birthing hut “did not look sterile or safe”. In the end, we came away with an appreciation for our modern way of life, and a better understanding of Hawaii and it’s culture.
People always told me that Kauai was one of the most beautiful Hawaiian islands and I know understand why. Even for a family of light to non-existent hikers, we found a way to truly enjoy the beauty that is Kauai and its waterfalls. So don’t listen to TLC, make sure to chase those waterfalls, especially in Kauai.