Wailua Falls is the must-see waterfall to visit on the garden island of Kauai. Mainly, because it is the most easily accessible waterfall. Most of the many waterfalls on Kauai are either only accessible by helicopter or on private land (a big bummer), but this one in Wailua River State Park is very easy to see, well marked, and has a developed viewpoint.
Wailua Falls is a spectacular 80 ft. high waterfall. In normal flows, it is really quite pretty, dropping in 3 separate segments. In high flows, as shown above, it is a single massive falls. Wailua Falls is the waterfall that used to be shown on the old TV show, Fantasy Island. It is also where in ancient times men used to dive off (over the falls) to prove their worthiness. Let me tell you, I would not be diving off this cliff. But it definitely is a spectacular waterfall. The best time to visit Wailua Falls is very early in the morning before all the crowds come here, as it is a very popular tourist stop. But if you are here alone, before anyone else, then it is much more pleasurable.
It is possible to get down to the base of Wailua Falls. There is a turnout about a quarter mile before the main viewpoint (do *not* take the trail that is located at the main viewpoint). A sign there indicates not to proceed due to dangerous conditions. But there is a steep trail down to the bottom, and it is not illegal to go down there. But I have not been down to the base so I cannot comment on the trail. I have heard that it is very steep and could be extremely slippery, especially if it has been raining recently. You also need to cross the river at the bottom, which may be very difficult or dangerous if the river is high. If you do decide to go down to the bottom, please read my disclaimer.
On an interesting note, the height of Wailua Falls has been measured by state officials at about 80 ft. high. But in the Kauai Revealed guidebook by Andrew Doughty and Harriett Friedman, the authors of that book claim that they measured the height of Wailua Falls with a plumb line as being 173 ft. high (they say they measured it twice!). I must say, however, that measurement is totally ridiculous. I have become a pretty good estimator of heights, and it sure looks to me that Wailua Falls is right around 80 ft. high. Certainly nowhere near 173 ft. high (and what man would willingly jump off a 200 ft. falls anyway). Next time I am in Kauai, I will be measuring this one for sure.
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