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Hawaii Trails

Kayak Through a Rainforest Grotto to a 100-foot Waterfall

Paddle 7 miles up the Wailua River to secret waterfalls, hidden swimming holes, and one of Kauai's best rope swings.

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See our whole list of best summer paddle trips.

  • Distance: 7 miles
  • Time: 1 day

Start this 7-mile round-trip paddle at the Wailua Kayak & Canoe shop on Kuamoo Road. After launching your boat, paddle upstream through thick tropical vegetation. The skyline periodically opens up and provides occasional views of Mount Waialeale (5,148 ft.) nearly 20 miles away. Watch for riverboats and coconut trees on the north bank.

In 1.8 miles, dock your boat to explore the Kamokila Hawaiian Village ((look for a thatched hut and outrigger canoe on the north bank). Kamokila offers tours of a re-created Hawaiian village with a courtyard dedicated to Hawaiian bowling and spear throwing. Continue up the south fork of the Wailua to Fern Grotto—a lush cave—and a hidden pool and rope swing (only accessible by boat). Take a dip, and then turn around and paddle back down the Wailua for .4 mile. Leave your boat on the river bank and hike to a majestic waterfall with small pools perfect for soaking. At the end of the day, retrace your steps back to the boat and glide down the river to your car.
-Mapped by Kari Bodnarchuk

Gallery: Paddling the Wailua River

Swimming beneath the falls

heading up the Wailua River between densely forested banks.

docking the boats for the hike to the waterfall.