Opaekaa Falls

Wailua River State Park, Hawaii, USA

About Opaekaa Falls

Hiking Distance: roadside
Suggested Time:

Date first visited: 2006-12-23
Date last visited: 2006-12-23

Waterfall Latitude: 22.0484
Waterfall Longitude: -159.36215

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Opaekaa Falls (or Opaeka’a Falls) is a segmented waterfall said to tumble at a height of 151ft.

This waterfall was real easy to see from a distance because it had an official overlook and car park that was well signposted, and it was not far from the town of Kapaa (or Kapa’a). Thus, we were definitely accompanied by many other tourists at this overlook as it was a very popular stop.

I believe “Opaeka’a” means “rolling shrimp” probably because there used to be the rare native shrimp in the freshwater streams here, and these shrimp were known to be able to cliff climbs containing waterfalls such as this one.

Now even though the overlook was very popular and busy, it left a lot to be desired due to its very distant and partially obstructed view (thanks to a tree that covered up a good chunk of the falls). Thus, 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. However, one of them was very dangerous as a pair of ladies who made the attempt had died just before we arrived. This one was mentioned in the Adventures section of the Blue Bible. As you can tell from the dearth of photos on this page, we decided against chancing it.

Meanwhile, the other path along the Opaeka’a Stream went through state land that was leased to a private company so it would be considered trespassing to go this route. We learned about this route from a friendly kama’aina from the Kamokila Hawaiian Village. So admittedly, it was word-of-mouth and something we weren’t in a position to substantiate.


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). Watch for the Opaekaa Falls sign at the junction of Hwy 580 and 56. The signed car park for the ‘Opaeka’a Falls Lookout is a little over a mile from the junction.

From Lihu’e, go about 6 miles north towards Kapa’a, crossing the Wailua River Bridge. Turn left after the bridge and head west on Hwy 580 for a little over a mile to the car park.

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Tagged with: opaekaa, rolling shrimp, wailua river, kauai, kapaa, hawaii, waterfall, tragedy, overlook

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