About Opaekaa Falls
Opaekaa Falls (or Opaeka’a Falls) is a segmented waterfall said to tumble at a height of 151ft, which was one of the easier waterfalls to experience thanks to an official well-signed roadside overlook.
I believe “Opaeka’a” means “rolling shrimp” probably because there used to be the rare native shrimp in the freshwater streams here.
These shrimp were known to be able to climb cliffs containing waterfalls such as this one.
While the convenient lookout would make for a really short visit here, I noticed on our second visit (in November 2021) there was a crosswalk leading to a nice overlook of the Wailua River.
As for the waterfall lookout, it did leave a lot to be desired because there’s a tree growing into the line-of-sight, which conspired to make Opaekaa Falls look shorter than it really is.
Anyways, in addition to being well-signed and having a fairly sizable parking area, this was a pretty popular waterfall primarily because it was not far from the town of Kapaa (or Kapa’a).
The Temptation to improve the Opaeka’a Falls View
Now even though the overlook was very popular and busy, its view still left a lot to be desired.
Indeed, it posed a dilemma as to whether we should seek out a way to get closer to the waterfall or be content with this view that bordered on disappointing.
Well, it turned out that there were paths to the base of the waterfall as explained in the Adventures section of the Blue Bible.
Unfortunately, literally a couple days before we arrived in Kaua’i, a pair of ladies who made the attempt to get to the bottom of Opaeka’a Falls had fallen to their deaths.
As you can tell from the dearth of photos on this page, we decided against chancing it, and since that time, more fencing and more signage had been put up prohibiting trying to scramble to the base of the falls.
Opaekaa Falls resides in Wailua River State Park in the island of Kauai, Hawaii. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) website.
Opaeka’a Falls is easily accessed along the Kuamo’o Road (State Highway 580).
From downtown Kapa’a, head south on Hwy 56 for about a mile.
Just before the Wailua River Bridge, turn right (heading west or inland) onto Hwy 580 (Kuamo’o Road), where there might already be an Opaeka’a Falls sign at the junction between the 580 and 56.
Just a little over a mile from the traffic-lighted junction between the 580 and 56, we then entered the well-signed parking area and lookout for Opaeka’a Falls.
From some geographical context, Kapa’a was about 6 miles (about 15 minutes drive) north of Lihu’e, 18 miles (over 30 minutes drive) north of Koloa / Po’ipu, 25 miles (about an hour drive) south of Princeville, and 30 miles (about an hour drive) east of Waimea.
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