Opaeka‘a Falls, Kauai
I have to say that I enjoyed the Opaeka’a waterfalls much more than Wailua waterfalls. The view point is much better here, just walk along the short path. The Opaeka’a waterfalls (pic 1) are 61meters high and you can see the twin cascades fall smoothly while the whole area is full in green. The pool area at the base supposed to have shrimps so no wonder why they called Opaeka’a (rolling shrimp). Like in other waterfalls a small sign reminds us how dangerous is to go down there….
After seeing the waterfalls we passed the other way of the road. There is a scenic stop over the spot where Wailua river splits into north and south fork, the view from there is very nice (pics 2) and the there is an info sign:
The mountain ridges of Maunakapu and Nounou divided the Wailua ahupua’a into two sections, Wailua Kai, traditionally referred to as, „Wailuanuiahoano“ encompasses about 2800 acres of land seaward. Wailua Uka is comprised of more than 17,455 acres. Altogether, the verdant valley provided all of the resources and necessities to support the chiefly retinues, along with the populace of maka’ainana who cultivated the lands and provided labor for the ruling ali’i.
Kauai is full of waterfalls. Similar to Wailua Falls, this is easy to view from the road. The setting is great and the double waterfall can be viewed head on at this location. The water spreads out to give the falls a lacy appearance. The road is easily accessible on the east coast of the island.
Another site that must be seen on Kauai is the 'Opaeka'a Falls in Wailua. I think that the 'Opaeka'a falls are much prettier than the Wailua falls as the area surrounding the falls is much more lush. However, the pool below, unlike the Wailua falls, is totally inaccessible. Just across the street from the falls, there is a lookout over the Wailua River which is quite beautiful.
‘Opaeka‘a Falls is in the town of Wailua on the east side of Kaua‘i on Highway 580. It's a popular spot with tour buses and gets crowded at times. Just be careful if you decide to cross the road or continue alongside the roadway on foot to get a closer viewing of the falls.
Can you pronounce its name? Remember: gutteral utterance of the okina ( ‘ ) flows smoothly into OH, then stress on PAH with a quick, smoothe, transitional off-glide on AY (when spoken quickly, it will sound like PIE in English), then KAH, then another okina flowing into AH. Now, run it all together: OH-PIE-KAH-AH.
FYI, there are trails you can hike that will take you above and below the falls. However, it is dangerous to take the high road. Two women fell to their deaths here recently (http://starbulletin.com/2006/12/20/news/story01.html). So, if you go, be careful.
Opaekaa Falls, a well known Wailua landmark, is one of the easier waterfalls to see on Kauai, and also one of the most beautiful. This lacy cascade, 151-feet high, flows year round and is said to be best photographed in late morning light. We took these photos between 10:30 and 11:00 a.m. Fresh water shrimp live in the pool at the bottom of the falls. They tend to hide during the day and come out from the rocks and into the open water at night.
You will find a lookout with parking just 1.3 miles from Hwy. 56, on Hwy. 580 in Wailua. Across the road from the Opaekaa Lookout is another viewing platform which should not be missed, overlooking the sacred Wailua River.
These valls are really beautiful. If you get to view them after a rainy time period, but after the red mud run off, they are absolutely gorgeous! Around 10:00am to 10:30 am is the best time. Well worth the visit! For those that love to hike and can stand a strengent hike, you can hike to the bottom of them.
Opaekaa Falls are popular and easy to get to. There are many more falls all over Kauai in addition to Wailua and Opaekaa, both of which are popular with sightseers because they are mentioned in all the guidebooks.
If you are not adventurous you'll stop to admire the falls at Opaeka'a Falls Lookout on the Kuamo'o Road. The lookout offers a nice view of the falls. If you want adventure you can do like us and take the trail down to the bottom of the falls. The trail is unmarked and not maintained and since we were there in December it was quite muddy and slippery. We had to cross a stream which was knee-deep and then do a number of stunts to get to the bottom. If the path is muddy I would not recommend it (unless you like falls and bruises).
Another set of fabulous falls along Wailua River. Its not accessible by river or trail. Great view of the falls from the Opaeka'a Falls Lookout off Kuamo'o Road.