Secret (Uluwehi) Falls

Secret (Uluwehi) Falls: Kayak And Hike to Kauai's Not-So-Secret — But Still Magical — Oasis
Local Expert's Rating:
4 / 5
The Bottom Line:

Discover the Kauai oasis known as Uluwehi Falls. A lengthy kayaking trip and potentially muddy hike can make this enclave difficult to reach, but the effort leads to one of the island's most remarkable sights: a cascading waterfall surrounded by lush greenery. Whether self-guided or completed with a tour group, this adventure is a must for your Kauai itinerary. 

- The Local Expert Team

There’s no shortage of stunning lookouts on the gorgeous island of Kauai, but sometimes, the journey is just as remarkable as the destination. Such is the case for Uluwehi Falls, which locals typically refer to as Secret Falls. One look at a photograph of these falls, and you’ll be sold on the journey — even if you typically avoid hiking.

At this point, this destination is far from secret. In fact, this can be a surprisingly busy spot, especially given the effort required to reach the falls. That doesn’t mean you should skip out on this adventure, however — locals and tourists alike will quickly tell you that a visit to Uluwehi Falls is a magical experience that should not be skipped. 

While it’s technically possible to reach Uluwehi Falls on your own, it’s highly recommended that you book a guided tour instead. This removes a lot of the stress and planning from the trek, so you can simply enjoy the experience and take it all in.

Should you make the journey on your own, you’ll need to rent a kayak and transport it yourself. From there, up to an hour of kayaking will be required before you get out and hike the rest of the way to the falls. 

If you opt for a guided trip, you’ll receive the support and guidance you need every step of the way. This begins with accessing your kayak and receiving a leisurely ride to the boat ramp. You’ll also receive safety training and basic instructions, making this a desirable experience for kayaking novices. When your trip concludes, you’ll thank yourself for booking a tour so you can avoid the hassle of returning your kayak. 

Whether you visit with a tour group or on your own, you’ll want to pack plenty of water and food. Many tours do not provide meals; check with your preferred company before you set out. Most people pause to enjoy lunch or a snack upon reaching the waterfall, as this is a wonderfully scenic spot. 

Once you get settled by the waterfall, you’ll have the chance to gaze in awe at this amazing sight. Cascading well over 100 feet, these falls are downright mesmerizing. That being said, the scenery on the way to and from this destination also deserves appreciation. The lush greenery provides a mystical backdrop, complete with mango trees, elephant grass, and all kinds of intriguing plant life. Listen carefully and you’ll hear not only the water but also, lovely birdsong. 

The right footwear is essential for this trip. Most people find sport or hiking sandals desirable, as these make the hike comfortable but are also helpful for exploring the water. If it’s rained recently, parts of the hiking path will almost assuredly be muddy — so plan accordingly. Thankfully, the upgraded boardwalk should make your trek easier. Be sure to also pack plenty of bug spray, sunscreen, and a towel if you plan to swim. 

There’s no Kauai journey quite like Uluwehi Falls. It takes effort to reach this not-so-secret destination, but all the paddling and hiking will feel like a small price to pay for experiencing this slice of heaven. Discover for yourself why this is one of the most beloved adventures on the island of Kauai. 

Round Trip Hours: 4 Hrs

Round Trip Miles (Kayak): 4 Mi

Round Trip Miles (Hike): 1.5 Mi

Elevation Gain: 465 Ft

How to Get There:
From Lehua St. and Kuhio Hwy. in Kapaa, HI, head southwest on Kuhio Hwy. In 2.6 miles, turn right onto Kuamoo Rd. Make an immediate left onto Wailua Rd. Continue 400 feet to the parking lot.

Insider Tips:
-Keep a close eye on the weather forecasts in the leadup to your adventure — and don’t hesitate to back out if you feel at all nervous. You’ll need to pay especially close attention to the weather if you intend to tackle the journey without the help of a tour guide.
-If you visit with a tour group, try your best to book the first trip. For most local guides, this will depart around 7 am. Your willingness to arrive early will get you the best kayaking conditions while also limiting the crowds near the waterfall. Similarly, an early departure is always advisable when kayaking on your own.