Whether it’s your first time in Kauai or you’re kama’aina (Hawaii resident), Secret Falls (Uluwehi Falls) is a perfect combo of kayaking and hiking. I stress that it is a combo as to access the Secret Falls trailhead because you must arrive by water. Most choose to kayak, but for those adventurers looking for a real ab workout, they can try a stand-up paddleboard (SUP). However, make sure to refuel at the falls. It is a four-mile roundtrip river paddle plus a moderate, hour roundtrip hike.
How to do the combo of Secret Falls?
Many tour operators run guided tours up the Wailua to Secret Falls everyday of the week, minus Sunday. So, if you want a guided trip with gear and lunch included or just want to rent, look into Kayak Kauai with offices right at the Wailua Marina. Having my own kayak, I put it at Wailua State Park (view pictured above), which has ample parking, boat launch, and bathrooms. In either scenario, be prepared with sunscreen, hiking sandals/shoes, bug spray, picnic goodies, and your libation of choice.
Leaving from either the Marina or State Park, follow the river up the valley past Smith’s Family Luau (left) for about two miles and take a right where the river branches. After taking the river’s branch, continue to its beaching area for your kayak or SUP. (** If you reach the Fern Grotto, you have gone too far.)
After beaching the water transport, it’s time to get muddy. Regardless of the day, the trail is moist. If you are on a pristine day, it will be tacky, but not slick. Many use walking sticks. I bet previous adventurers have left sticks for you to enjoy.
To start the hike, follow a roughly beaten trail from the kayak/SUP landing to a rope crossing the river. Use the rope to guide you as the river bottom is rocky and slick. On the trail, you are surrounded by hau trees with flowers that change from yellow to orange, strong koa trees, walking trees, and beautiful birds, not only chickens, but peacocks too (seen above). Within a half-hour to forty-five minutes, you arrive at Secret Falls (pictured at beginning of post and below). You can take out your picnic goodies, celebrate with a libation, and take a dip. Be aware that the water is much colder than the ocean. The water is from recent rains and high up in the mountains.
After you have refueled at the falls, just follow the reverse path. I will warn you that many times the way back on kayak or SUP is harder as the winds tend to come from the ocean. So, be prepared to earn your dinner after Secret Falls.
Have you been to Secret Falls? I’d love to hear about your adventure travels on Kauai.
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Here’s to more good times and good stories. Aloha!