The falls themselves lie on a strip of state land extending downstream of the Kealia Forest Reserve, but the access is through a residential area. It’s important to respect private property and generally be a courteous visitor.
Reached via Kawaihau and Kapahi roads, the roughly 1.7-mile round-trip hike to Hoopii Falls begins on a dirt road. There’s a steepish descent to the Kapaa Stream, where a couple of spur trails soon lead to Upper Hoopii Falls. Getting down to this popular spot involves a bit of a scramble, and the footing can be a bit treacherous, particularly after rainfall.
Indeed, the Hoopii Falls trail and access spurs can get plenty muddy, so be prepared. While the path’s not long, the sketchy traction in places and the somewhat confusing route, especially downstream, make this more of a moderate than an easy hike.
The upper falls is a popular place for swimming and cliff-jumping, not least among local kids. Bear in mind that jumping here can be dangerous if you’re not aware of the layout of rocks in the plunge pool. Furthermore, some recommend against getting into the Kapaa Stream altogether due to concerns about residential contamination and the possibility of bacterial infection.
Nonetheless, the roughly 15-foot drop of Upper Hoopii Falls is a fun place to kick back for a while, though don’t expect to have the place to yourself.
Continuing on to Lower Hoopii Falls, the path gets a bit rougher and harder to follow. Stay close to the stream to find your way; some of the confusing user paths branching off will lead to private property and “No Trespassing” signs. The tropical forest here along the stream is quite beautiful, even when you’re dealing with overgrowth and fallen logs.
Lower Hoopii Falls is slightly taller than its upper counterpart and less of a thronged hangout given it’s not quite as conducive to swimming. That said, there’s a rope here for swinging into the pool, for those who choose to get wet.
It’s a bit hard to recognize, but Lower Hoopii Falls is featured in an early scene in the 1993 film Jurassic Park (much of which was filmed on Kauai). It served as the setting for the Mano de Dios mine, where an amber-encased mosquito provided the source of the prehistoric DNA used to resurrect the dinos.
The upper and lower drops of Hoopii Falls—and the riverside jungle—are lovely, and well worth a visit if you watch your footing, don’t mind getting a bit muddy, and respect the surrounding private property.
-You’ll likely want some insect repellant along on this hike, as mosquitoes can be hot and heavy.
-Parking can be found at Kapahi Park neary.
-Again, we recommend using your judgment as far as actually getting into the waterfall pools. But certainly beware of dangerous water here after heavy rainfall, when the Kapaa Stream can significantly swell.