About Secret Falls (Uluwehi Falls)
Secret Falls (Uluwehi Falls) is a very popular waterfall requiring some form of water transport to get to the trailhead. We visited this waterfall during our December 2006 visit as a canoe along part of the Wailua River coming from the Kamokila Hawaiian Village.
Since the falls was said to be 100ft, we figured that it was enough of a motivating factor for us to go through the trouble of doing the popular river kayak or canoe up the Wailua River to the trailhead. I recalled that the canoe that Julie and I did together was rowed by a non-Polynesian employee with a thick pidgin accent. This part of the excursion probably took about 15 very relaxing minutes from the Kamokila Hawaiian Village, which I think was the closest to the trailhead for the falls along the Wailua River.
After we landed our canoe, we were then left on our own to do an unescorted hike to the falls (we agreed on a meeting time back at this spot, which was in about two hours, I believe). In hindsight, I wondered if we should’ve done a self-guided kayak so we wouldn’t have to be constrained by a time limit. I guess we’d have to explore that option next time.
Anyhow, we first had to traverse a rope-assisted stream crossing across a fairly deep stream. When we were there, it was about thigh-deep. However, after the visit, when I asked the authorities at the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) about this waterfall, they told me that they often cut the ropes since they feared it provided a false sense of security, especially when the water level was high. So who knows if that rope will be there or not?
After the rope crossing, that was when we began the hike, which took us roughly 45 minutes each way at a relaxed pace.
The trail pretty much follows the river with a few slippery muddy spots as well as two more stream crossings. For traction and protection on those water crossings, we wore Keens (though I’m sure a pair of sports sandals or water shoes should work). We certainly didn’t want to ruin our hiking boots or other closed-toe shoes not made for river walking or jungle hiking. The trail ended right at the plunge pool below the base of Secret Falls.
Given the fact that we saw a bunch of people here from the multitude of tour groups all converging on this spot, I guess it shouldn’t have come as a surprise that it was quite crowded here.
From what I’ve read, most of the kayak/canoe rental vendors and tour companies (e.g. Kamokila Hawaiian Village, Wailua Kayak & Canoe, Wailua Kayak Adventures, etc.) are located in the vicinity of Kapa’a, Hanalei, and Po’ipu. I believe most of the put-in points are at the mouth of the Wailua River (near the Hwy 56 and Hwy 580 junction) or further upriver at or near Kamokila Hawaiian Village (across Hwy 580 from Opaeka’a Falls Overlook).
As mentioned earlier, we took off from the Kamokila Hawaiian Village, which was shortly west of the overlook for Opaeka’a Falls.
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