Po'opi'i Falls

Hiking to Ho’opi’i Falls


When I vacationed in Kauai a few months back, I made sure we explored a few trails. It’s my 3rd trip to this paradise and so far, I didn’t have to repeat any hikes. In fact, my hiking wishlist grows after each trip. There is plenty of beautiful trails to explore on the Garden Island of Hawaii.

The first hike I am going to share is a short hike that is good for all fitness levels. Enter the trailhead coordinates (provided at the bottom) into your choice of GPS app then follow the directions to the trailhead. The trailhead is in a residential area so be considerate when you park on Kapahi Road. The trailhead is next to 5944 Kapahi Rd.

There isn’t a big sign for the trailhead but you will see a use trail from the street. Then follow a sign with a bunch of arrows pointing in the right direction.



Kapaa Stream




Considering this is a highly trafficked trail, I was surprised that there wasn’t any trail sign and the trail wasn’t well-maintained. I am guessing the rainfalls change the trail condition constantly. Fallen trees and branches blocked the path at times but it just made it more fun to navigate through.


There are two waterfalls on this hike. I read the Ho’opi’i Waterfall II has a better viewpoint so we headed to the waterfall #2 first. When we got there, a big group was just about to leave so we had the waterfall to ourselves. I found a perfect spot to watch the waterfall and zone out for a little bit.


We didn’t, but you can go down to the pool and swim if you’d like. There was a rope swing. It was fun watching people, especially this one young woman who tried her best to hold on to the rope until the right time but her arms gave up on her too soon. Something I would do. She kept trying though and we rooted for her quietly. Eventually, she did it beautifully. Way to not give up!


After we were thoroughly entertained, we packed up and headed back. When we reached the waterfall #1, a couple of local boys were in the stream making their way down to the top of the waterfall close to the drop-off. You can tell they’ve done this many times before. They were being careful yet seemed confident with their movement.



We took off our packs and got in the upper stream maybe 20 feet away from the drop-off where the water was calmer. We settled in a little nook and enjoyed the refreshing water and the serene scenery.


Meanwhile, there was a couple in their 50’s who decided to go into the water at the same time as we did. The husband kept walking toward the dropoff. The rocks are slippery and you can’t just walk around. So this was happening in slow motion. The wife followed him several feet behind very gingerly. I thought she should just stay put. She made me nervous. And him too, really. I had my back toward them when Steve jumped up and said, ‘Oh shoot!’ Apparently, she slipped near the edge and her body was lifted in the air then it disappeared over the waterfall. Those two local boys quickly got down to the bottom and got her from wherever she landed. One of them was supporting her back while she was floating by the time I was able to see her. She had broken bones but was alive. I didn’t even want to imagine the injuries she had that we couldn’t see externally. The search and rescue team came within 20 minutes or so. They were calling for a helicopter to lift her up. There wasn’t much we can do to help at that point. We thought it was best to leave the place for the rescue team to do their work. We were pretty shaken by the incident. It was a good reminder of how an accident can happen in a split second and we should always be mindful of the safety first.

On a lighter note, because I am so used to a four-legged moving subject, it felt a bit strange and even luxurious to take still photos. I used the opportunity to practice my photography skills and try out different settings on my camera.

Good to Know:

  • Hike Date: 9.10.18
  • Distance: 2 miles RT
  • Elevation Gain: 200 ft
  • Difficulty Rating: Easy
  • Trailhead: 22.103065, -159.343294 (copy/paste in to your GPS)
  • Free street parking
  • Dog-friendly: Yes
  • No toilet
  • Permit/Fee: None

Get Our Latest Comprehensive Dog-friendly Trail List Here. Enjoy!

Happy Hiking!

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10 comments on “Hiking to Ho’opi’i Falls”

  1. I cant believe that woman went right over the edge! I wonder how many people have done the same thing in that spot? Probably a few. But I guess you cant have signs up everywhere warning of dangers….people have to take responsibility for their own actions as well.

    1. I also think that wasn’t the first accident there. But like you said, we need to take responsibility for our own actions. Couldn’t agree more.

    1. Sorry, girl! I just saw your comment! We checked the news that evening and the next day and didn’t see any report on that accident so we assumed she probably made it out ok (meaning, with a few broken bones). But yeah…people have to be responsible for their own actions. Couldn’t agree more!

    1. That’s tough question because I enjoyed every hike I did on the island so far. But if I have to choose, two most memorable hikes come to my mind. The first hike is, Hanakapi’ai Falls Trail in North Shore. I believe this trails has been closed for a while after the tropical storm early last year. Another hike is, Kalepa Ridge Trail in Koke’e State Park on the west side of the island. Both hikes are rated difficult but if you are in a decent shape, you can do it. They are worth it!

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