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Travel Blog #73 - Kayaking Wailua River To Secret Falls With Ali'i Kayaks


When we checked in this morning at the Ali'i Kayaks office on the north side of the Wailua River, I knew it was going to be a wonderful day. It was one of those beautiful blue bird winter days with not a breath of wind in the air. After check in, we boarded the Ali'i Kayaks bus to make our way to the boat landing on the southern banks of the river.

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As we pulled up to the boat launch, our guide was waiting for us with our kayaks. Before we launched the boats we were given some time to pack our boats and dry bags with our lunches as well as any belongings we wanted to stow. Our guide went over some of the fundamentals of paddling, as well as a detailed summary of what our days itinerary was going to entail. After our guide was done with the briefing and we all had our gear squared away, we dropped our boats in the river.

The paddle up the Wailua River was one of the most relaxing, "serene experiences" (as described by another member of our group) I have ever been a part of. The glassy, still water of the river and the calm, rhythmic stroke of the paddle almost put me in a state of trance as I just let myself enjoy the jungle views.

hiking wailua falls

Our guide pointed out an ancient Hawaiian village on the banks of the river that was used in the making of the medical drama "Outbreak", starring Dustin Hoffman. He also pointed out some beautiful native and non-native plants and flowers that grew along the banks of the river. Before we got too tired, the first paddling portion of our trip ended as we pulled our boats onto the shores. The beach that we landed on was also the trail head of the path leading to the "Secret Falls".


We gathered our gear off of our boats before our guide pulled the boats onto the banks of the river for us. As soon as everyone and their boat was out of the river, we began our hike to the falls. The hike was an adventure in itself. The trail contained one major stream crossing, and the rest of it was made up of a moist single track trail. The trail was mostly shaded by the thick canopy of the jungle. The surface of the trail was muddy and we had to use extreme caution as we made our way up the hill, and closer to the waterfall.

Once we got to the falls, we were greeted by a massive waterfall with a strong flow that emptied into a swimming pool surrounded by jungle foliage. It was magnificent! I wasted no time and placed my belongings on the shore before I made my way down to the waterfall for a swim.

secret falls on kauai

Some words of caution on swimming here: Swimming under and around waterfalls brings with it a certain set of risks. These include and are not limited to: slipping on the rocks, kicking or bumping the bottom of the pool or getting hurt by debris contained in the waterfall hitting you. To sum it up, be careful and realize that your taking a risk by swimming near waterfalls.

After I was done with my swim, and we all finished our meals we made our way back down the trail to our boats. From here our guide launched our boats for us. We then boarded them, and then began the paddle back to the boat landing near the mouth of the river. We took our time and enjoyed our paddle back up the river. When we got back to the landing, our guide loaded our boats back onto the trailer. The group loaded back in the bus for the ride back to the Ali'i Kayaks Headquarters.

We lucked out, we had an awesome trip, with perfect weather and a great guide. I enjoyed this tour so much that I might have to look into some kayaks or canoes on craigslist. I've loved paddling since I was a kid. I used to do canoe club in the Summers, this trip might have been just the motivation I needed to get back into it.

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Related Information

If you're physically capable of doing a kayaking tour while you're here in Hawaii then you defiantly should. We have different kayaking excursions that are suited for all levels so no matter what kind of kayaking experience you have we should be able to pair you with some kind of an excursion that suites you.

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Related Activites

$50.90 - $69.90

Your kayak journey will lead you through a sacred valley once reserved only for ali'i (royalty). You will paddle approximately 4 miles round-trip up the Wailua River's North Fork, where you will disembark your kayak and begin your hike through a tropical rain forest.

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tom tailor
great article. Keep sharing!great article. Keep sharing!