Opaekaa Falls and Wailua River State Park

Opaekaa Falls is located on the east side of Kauai in the town of Wailua. The waterfall is visible from a lookout and is great for all ages.  Ample parking is also available as well as restrooms. Furthermore, there are picturesque views and photo ops of the Opaekaa Falls and Wailua River. Unlike many waterfalls on Kauai, Opaekaa Falls does not require a hike and is easily accessible.  In addition, there are handicap accessible ramps and sidewalks that are great for strollers.

Opaekaa in English is translated into “rolling shrimp”.

An abundance of shrimp in the stream was how the waterfall got its name. The Opaekaa Falls is a quick stop off to the side of the road in Wailua.  Therefore, if you are trying to get in as much as you can within a short period of time it is a great place to visit. The views of the Opaekaa Falls is from a distance.  However, the natural beauty is worth a look if you do not live in an area where there are waterfalls.  In addition, since it is free of charge the Opaekaa Falls will not disappoint.

Opaekaa Falls is a 151 foot tall, 40 foot wide waterfall that cascades down to a hidden pool. 

Two Lookouts: Opaeekaa Falls and Wailua River

There are picnic tables and shade across the street where you can view the Wailua River. Directions to the falls cannot be missed as it is on signage heading toward the area.  Turn up to Kuamoo Road (580) and travel up the hill to the lookout which will be located on the right hand side.  The drive from the main Highway is about two miles up Route 580. The Wailua River State Park is  across the street from Opaekaa Falls Lookout.  You will see informational boards at the Wailua State Park providing descriptions of the area.   

Poliahu Heiau

Poliahu Heiau is also located in the State Park.  The Heiau is a temple dedicated to Ku. The temple was created by hand where stones were brought up from the river below.  The area was known for religious ceremonies and rituals. As you visit please respect the sacred site. Stay outside of the heiau and do not climb on the walls.

Wailua is known as a political and religious center of Kauai in ancient Hawaiian times as well as today.  The area was where the Hawaiian chiefs and priests built their houses and temples. The area is a sacred place where many of the births of chiefs occured in the area.  The ahupuaa (Hawaiian Land Division System) of Wailua is the largest on Kauai. With an abundance of water and fertile valley floors, this area provided great farming and hunting.  There was also plentiful fish for fishermen in the freshwater as well as ocean nearby. The resource of the land provided a thriving abundance of food for its people and was very self-sustainable.  

The use of the area has changed over time. A great agricultural area with fertile soil and an abundance of water, the landscape evolved with the times. In the 1600s the land was terraced for taro farms. In the 1800s the same terraces were used by Chinese and Japanese farmers for growing rice. In the 1900s the land was used for raising cattle and horses.  

Located on the Wailua River State Park grounds is also an old cemetery. Entrance to the cemetery is at the bottom of the hill up a flight of stairs near the HoloHoloKu Heiau.  

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