The fabled Wailua Valley has a bit of everything: water adventure, sunshine, wildlife, and a garden-like atmosphere that turns into rainforest-esque surroundings the further upriver you travel. This iconic river is Kauai’s largest navigable river, and it was once kapu (taboo, or prohibited) for anyone besides Hawaiian royalty to venture upriver to the Uluwehi waterfall. Kayak Adventures Kauai provides everything you need for a kayaking/hiking adventure to those falls: a guide, kayaks, dry bags for your belongings, and stories/history to share along the way.
Though Kayak Adventures Kauai isn’t the only tour company to lead kayak/hiking tours up the Wailua River, they’re certainly among the highest-rated. Prices are reasonable and competitive with others on the island, and visitors consistently say they’d come back again and again to relive this memorable excursion. Each guide offers insight and a deep level of knowledge about Kauai in general and the Wailua Valley in particular, and the staff is accommodating and helpful every step of the way.
The Waterfall Kayak Adventure Includes:
When you book a tour, you’re also booking the kayaks, paddles, personal flotation devices, and dry bags you’ll need for the trip. Staff will help load and unload your kayaks, launch and land them successfully, and help you learn the ropes if you’ve never paddled before.
Guided River Adventure
This tour entails about two miles of paddling each way. The Wailua River is serene and doesn’t pull very hard; most visitors said it wasn’t too strenuous, and that the entire paddle was more relaxing than anything else. Along the way, the guide will share stories of old Hawaii and of the Wailua River Valley, the heart of the island that was once reserved for royalty.
Guided Hike to Uluwehi Falls
After your paddle upriver, you’ll land your kayaks and embark on a moderate one-mile hike up to the base of Uluwehi Falls, often referred to as “Secret Falls” in guidebooks and blogs. The hike to the falls requires a decent level of physical fitness, but it’s not overly steep or strenuous. It is muddy, though. Bring shoes–preferably hiking sandals–that you won’t mind getting completely wet and muddy, because the hike includes a stream crossing. You’ll likely want to wade in the water at the base of the falls at the end of the trail, as well.
Guided kayak tours are offered Monday-Friday; Hawaii state law prohibits guided tours up the river on the weekends. Tours leave at either 7:45 or 8:45 am, so either way, you’re ensuring perfect timing for a morning adventure followed by lunch in nearby Wailua or Kapaa afterward.
-This isn’t an overly strenuous expedition, but you do need to be in decent physical shape (with no major injuries or joint problems) to paddle and hike up the river.
-Bring water and snacks! Many visitors say they wish they had brought an energy bar or another small snack to enjoy at the waterfall before paddling back.
-Don’t forget bug spray and sunscreen. It’s Kauai, so this should go without saying, but too many people have headed upriver without these essentials and lived to regret it.