Swimming at Wailua Falls – Kauai

Wailua Falls, located on the East side of Kauai was so alluring that we visited it twice. These waterfalls are extremely easy to access, you can literally drive right up to the top of them.  After we got out of the car and looked at the bottom of the falls we could see people swimming… way down there and this made me crazy! I wanted to swim down there too! How did they get there? I wanted to try it. If you look at the picture you can see them swimming (above) it looked so fun but how do we get there?

I had noticed a bunch of cars back about half a km down the road so we headed that way and found a little trail down the hill. This trail was CRAZY steep. You literally had to use tree roots as a ladder to inch you way down the hill. It took us about 40 minutes to climb to the bottom but we made it, BUT then we were faced with the river. (picture below)

River at WailuaAt first walking along the river seemed like an easy task. We were wrong! After slipping and sliding we decided to turn back. At that moment we came across of group of young Australians who told us that we had chosen the “hard way” and there was an easier way than walking along the river.

As it was getting late in the day so we decided to head back to the hotel and try again tomorrow. Climbing up the hill was actually easier and faster than climbing down. My kids were exhausted and so was I. The next day we returned and looked for the “easy” trail that the Aussies had told us about. It was right near the parking lot at the top of the falls. It was not marked, there was a “keep out” sign and just a little indication of a path. For those of you looking for the way down, if you stand and look at the falls, the path is just at then end of the guard rail to your right.

When you get down the hill, which is extremely steep, probably steeper than the trial we used the previous day, the deafening roar of the falls tells you how close you are. When we got to the bottom there were some local Hawaiians there, they had climbed down barefoot! They said it was the way they always did it and laughed at us all covered in mud from sliding down on our bottoms.  We had a beer with them and celebrated our victory in making it to the poolkauai waterfall

Swimming in the pool at the base of the falls was one of the greatest travel experiences I have ever had. It was beautiful. The water was cold and refreshing after a grueling hike down. The waves from the tourists way up above reminded me of how I had waived to the swimmers the day before as I looked down and hoped I could do the same.Wailua Falls at the bottom2

Wailua Falls, was a definite highlight for our family. The thrill of swimming beneath such amazing beauty is something I will never forget.

TIPS: Must be strong on your feet, strong balance and able to climb.

The second time we did the climb, we literally wore bathing suits and T shirts only. That way we could scoot down on our bottoms when needed.

Leave your valuables in your hotel!

Take some drinks for a victory celebration when you get to the bottom! Aloha.


Published by Victoria

I am Victoria Renton. Professor at Sheridan College, Pilon School of Business. I am a Tourism Marketing specialist with extensive international sales, major airline negotiations and tourism development expertise. I started blogging when I went to Europe with kids in July 2010 as a way of sharing my adventures with friends back home. As a Digital Marketing Professor, I like to try new technologies with students and stay current with Social Media Trends and this Blog has been a great home base for that. It is a place that I share my travels, ideas, success and failures. I am glad you stopped by.

6 thoughts on “Swimming at Wailua Falls – Kauai

  1. My spouse aand I stumbled over here from a different website and thought I might check things out.
    I like what I see soo now i’m following you.
    Look forward to checking out your web page yet again.


  2. My family has never hiked before but I so want to swim and spend the day by a waterfall. That being said do you think this would be the best one for us to try. ??


    1. Hi Sissy,
      It all depends on the conditions of the day. There has been a lot of rain in Kauai recently and the falls are very full and brown due to all the silt in the water so not the idyllic conditions shown in my pictures. Depending on when you travel, I would go to the falls check out the conditions on the day and then decide. The hardest part of swimming in the falls is climbing down to the bottom. So it also depends on the age of your kids. The difficulty is not in the physical exertion of the climb but the danger if you slip. Be sure to also check out Queens Bath, conditions there right now are awesome. There is a post on Queens Bath under the Hawaii tab. Have a great trip, Aloha!


  3. Hi I’m curious how much cost parking or free? I was looking up online at wailua water fall swim there enjoy it.


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