Kapena Falls

Honolulu / Waikiki, Hawaii, USA

About Kapena Falls

Hiking Distance: 1/2 mile round trip
Suggested Time: 20-30 minutes

Date first visited: 2007-01-12
Date last visited: 2007-03-07

Waterfall Latitude: 21.32524
Waterfall Longitude: -157.84573

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Kapena Falls is a tiny waterfall tumbling around 20-30ft.

What’s funny about this waterfall was that finding it was either a matter of walking along a high speed highway or walking through a cemetery. Even funnier was that the first time we attempted to visit this waterfall, we ended up mistaking it for Alapena Falls, which was just downstream of where we needed to go.

Even though we saw a pair of teenagers jumping off a rope swing into the plunge pool beneath the falls, I cringed as I’m sure urban pollution probably infested the watercourse here with the leptospirosis bacteria. That illness is not so funny.

I had also read that this waterfall was featured in the TV series “Lost” as well as in the movie “The Rundown” featuring The Rock (Dwayne Johnson). So even though this waterfall seemed to be somewhat obscure, apparently, lots of people (including those affiliated with Hollywood) still know about it.


From Waikiki Beach, for me the preferred way to get to the falls was by finding a pullout along the Pali Highway, then walking along the highway before descending down towards the falls. But this was tricky because the only way we were able to accomplish this was to drive southbound on the Pali Highway. Northbound drivers have to exit at Wyllie St and either take Nu’uanu Ave to the Nu’uanu Cemetery (might be trespassing if you access the falls from there) or get back onto the Pali Hwy going southbound.

Once we were southbound on Hwy 61, we found a pullout about 500ft past the “Scenic Overlook 500ft” sign. At this pullout, there was a view overlooking a pagoda surrounded by tombstones as well as a bunch of broken glass (bad omen in terms of car break-ins). Once we got out of the car, we walked along the Pali Hwy (staying well clear of the oncoming traffic) then hopped over the railing just behind that Scenic Overlook sign. From there, a trail descended towards a view of the falls as well as its pool.

We were able to cross the stream just below the plunge pool for Kapena Falls, and then we could walk downstream towards the cemetery where where we checked out Alapena Falls.

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Tagged with: waikiki, honolulu, oahu, hawaii, waterfall, the rundown, the rock, nuuanu, lost, lepto, leptospirosis

Visitor Comments:

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SA Teen Boys Manoa Cottage 1977-78 (Kapana Falls) December 27, 2013 7:49 pm by Erich Holmquist - I was in Salvation Army group Home in Manoa Valley during the years 1977-78. We use to come there often to jump off the falls. I never jumped; but I was pushed off. I thought it was pronounced Kapana falls. ...Read More
Memories of Kapena Falls July 25, 2013 1:13 am by Barbie Germann - When I was a little girl, in my early teens, we used to walk through the cemetery to get to Kapena Falls and it was my favorite place to swim along with San Souci Beach and the Natatorium in Waikiki.. How I miss my childhood in Hawaii as I had the best childhood a person… ...Read More
1973 Alpena falls April 10, 2012 4:37 am by Thomas Malley - In 1973 I was only 18 in the Navy than station on Wapahu panisula. Some friends of mine took me here. One was a Navy seal. There was a cliff about 30 feet at that time you could jump off. They told me that the water pool below was a lava tub and that it… ...Read More
Blast from the past… January 8, 2012 5:15 am by Sherry C. - The fond memories of Kapena Falls & Jackass Gingers... The memories will always be with me.... ...Read More
Old military brat (Kapena Falls) September 2, 2011 8:49 pm by Mike - Once a great hangout for teens and similar airheads! Jumping feet first into murky, clouded water was very risky. Once parked my car on the Pali shoulder to take a plunge. Gone 20-minutes. Returned to my car that had been broken into. Billfold stolen. Haven't returned since 1967!! ...Read More
Becoming Kama’aina at Kapena Falls May 24, 2011 4:39 am by John Lopez - I was very fortunate to be stationed at Sub Base Pearl in 1953 with my cousin Joe Rodriguez. As we are native Floridians, we both enjoyed the island of Oahu and its many beaches and sights. While hanging ten on Kuhio Beach with some local friends, they asked us if we would like to become… ...Read More
1967-1970 Kapena Falls October 9, 2008 5:30 am by Debbie - We used to swim here all the time while living in Hawaii during our teens. Parents were military and it was great fun at the falls. Not far from here, if I remember correctly, was a place called Jackass Ginger which was a place to slide down. I believe it was a half lava tube… ...Read More
Worst Place I’ve Found For Mosquitoes October 8, 2008 4:58 am by Tammy - Bring bug spray! Worst place I've found for mosquitoes. Easy, short hike, and the waterfalls weren't bad, but nothing spectacular. We heard hunters shooting close by, so we didn't stay long. ...Read More

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Kapena Falls…with a bonus Alapena Falls October 8, 2008 1:58 pm by Peggy - We found Alapena Falls first. Tons of mosquitos, not a deep enough pool to swim, lots of litter from beer bottles to other trash around the shore. Not a spectacular falls. Then my friends tried to take a shortcut back to the car and found Kapena Falls. Much prettier, still lots of mosquitos, less trash,… ...Read More

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