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Wailua Falls on the Island of Kaua'i

Updated on August 26, 2013
Wailua Falls, Kaua'i
Wailua Falls, Kaua'i | Source
A markerWailua Falls, Kauai, Hawaii -
Wailua Falls, Maalo Road, HI 96746, USA
get directions

De Plane, Boss, De Plane!

The high-pitched, elfish voice of Tattoo (played by French actor, Herve Villechaize), announcing the arrival of tourists to Fantasy Island, was an iconic hallmark during the popular series' run from 1978 to 1984.

Equally iconic was the visual image of Wailua Falls during the opening credits of that show. Resplendent in its idyllic Edenesque setting, the majestic and picturesque falls measures somewhere between 80 to 173 feet (depending on who's doing the measuring and how many bottles of island brew they've imbibed).

During my first 18 years of life, growing up on the oldest Hawaiian island of Kaua'i, I may have visited Wailua Falls maybe a couple of times. Sadly, it seems, when you grow up in paradise, you take even the privilege of that for granted.

So, it was with huge breathtaking and nostalgic emotions that I last paid homage to this lovely landmark in the latter part of 2010. Accompanying me at the time were my wife and adult children as well as members of my family of origin. My brother, Silas, captured the magnificent images shown above and in the lower right margin.

Wailua Falls
Wailua Falls | Source
Wailua Falls--A Shot of the Falls Making Contact with the Pool
Wailua Falls--A Shot of the Falls Making Contact with the Pool | Source
Wailua Falls--More of a Frontal View
Wailua Falls--More of a Frontal View | Source

Visitor Information

Wailua Falls is located just north of the county seat of Lihu'e. Malihinis, new visitors to the island, can take Highway 56 north out of Lihu'e to Ma'alo Road, Highway 583, on the right. After a 5 - 10 minute ride, you'll find the waterfall waiting for you at the end of the road.

Word to the wise--take a liberal amount of mosquito repellent with you. Just a few minutes outside of your car, and your neck, arms, and legs will have the telltale bumps caused by the bloodthirsty, vampiric insects.

Conveniently, there is a lookout located in relatively close proximity to the waterfall. While no hiking is required, there is a slippery, steep hike down to the bottom of the falls. The waterfall's pool is a 3/10 mile descent from the road.

The consensus of locals and tourists alike is that the best viewing time is early morning when the sun is shining on the water. You can see in the images to the right the magical result of water vapor kissed by sunlight--a beautiful, tropical rainbow.

Top of the Falls--Hmm, What's This?
Top of the Falls--Hmm, What's This? | Source
Adventuresome Souls
Adventuresome Souls | Source
Hula Hoopster
Hula Hoopster | Source

Winning Entry for David Letterman's Top 10 Foolish Things to Do on Kaua'i

The falls can change dramatically depending on the amount of rainfall. While we were there, we saw a couple of brave souls walking out onto the top of the falls. This area is flat with channels cut into the rock from centuries of flowing water. Still, I can only surmise that the rocks are generously topped with algae, moss, and mud, thus creating a rather slippery surface.

Fascinated with the sight of these individuals cavorting at the top of the falls, I simultaneously thought of the possibility of unannounced and blitzkrieg-like flash floods that could, at any moment, come sweeping down the natural freeway to the falls. We were there at the height of the winter rainy season when such an occurrence would be the rule and not the exception. I continued to watch with ambivalence, astounded by the apparent courage of the individuals and yet mentally scolding them for engaging in such tomfoolery.

Then, all of a sudden, we saw a young woman emerge with her hula hoop. At the top of the falls, seemingly with no concern for impending danger, she began doing her own version of ancient Hawaiian storytelling.

Admittedly, I was somewhat appreciative of her derring-do as well as the free entertainment, but my brother, a local kanaka (native Hawaiian) to the core, had some choice words about her antics. I won't repeat them here, of course, but you can watch the YouTube video below that he posted soon thereafter, along with his editorial title.

Epilogue

Thankfully, there were no Garden Island headline-making waterfall fatalities that day. That said, however, this writer's stance is that a visit to idyllic settings like Kaua'i's Wailua Falls can be memorable, emotionally provocative, and soul-soothing without the element of dangerous or foolhardy behavior.

Many tourists have died in falls from the cliff heights as well as from no-warning flash floods. The deaths are devastating to the island community as well as the remaining family members back on the mainland. In the aftermath, long drawn-out civil suits against the State of Hawai'i and/or private individuals having some level of accountability for such deaths create unfortunate social, political, and economic tsunamis for all concerned.

Ultimately, life in the island paradise is best experienced as well as appreciated by utilizing good sense and a healthy respect for both the environment and the community.

So...What Do You Think?

What's Your Opinion About the Hula Hoopin' Haole Girl?

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  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
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    Hawaiian Odysseus 3 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @Hawaiian Scribe

    Hi, Stephanie! I was reviewing my hub due to a broken link and noticed that my response to your message of 10 months ago had not been printed. Please forgive me for my oversight. Your comment was beautiful, and I hope my "better late than never" response reflects in some small measure my aloha and respect for you. Hope you're doing well and enjoying your spring headed into summer!

    Joe

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
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    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @rajan jolly

    Aloha, my friend! Are you in the medical or health sciences field? You are so knowledgeable regarding health and nutrition. Hand in hand with good nutrition and healthy choices is a low-stress environment. And that is why I love and miss Hawai'i, especially the rhythm and sounds of the Pacific Ocean kissing the shore. Thanks for dropping by!

  • rajan jolly profile image

    Rajan Singh Jolly 4 years ago from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar,INDIA.

    These falls are exceptionally beautiful. One can see the serenity of the pool below and the raw power of the falls above - a reminder that it is foolhardy to risk life in the process of enjoyment.

    Beautiful interesting hub and a useful reminder to stay safe too. Voted up as such. Mahalo! my friend.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @benisan85745

    Okay, brah, here is how I respond to people who kindly take time to read and leave comments. I'm still confused by the process because HP doesn't seem to be consistent with the way they allow the Hub writers to respond. When someone leaves a comment, you'll see a rectangular box at the bottom left of their comment that asks you to approve the comment. Half the time, I see a REPLY box to the right of it. The other half of the time, I see nothing. So, basically, I just go down to the comment box and type in @______ , and that way each person can find my reply to them.

    Thank you for your comments. The nice thing is that other people see your words and may then surf on over to check out your hubs. Which would be the smartest thing they ever did...

  • benisan85745 profile image

    Ka'imi'loa 4 years ago from Tucson, AZ.

    You know, all my life going back and forth from Hawai'i to the mainland, I never did spend a whole lot of time on the Garden Isle (Kauai), maybe cause I get no immediate family there, however, get planny friends there, and I do have planny of memories of my time in Kapa'a. What I just witnessed on the YouTube video your bruddah went filmed is so typical. Its almost a waste of time now even getting hu-hu about things like that. They are the same people that ask where the "mahalo" can stay cause they get trash to throw away ha-ha,that always brings a smile to my face. BTW, much mahaloz for the comment on my hub, i am still learning this Hub Pages, and i don't where to go to say thanks to people?! I don't subscribe to any other social site: facebook, instagram, all that stuff, but in any case, i have to go back and continuereading everything you get bruddah, k-den...shootz!

  • Hawaiian Scribe profile image

    Stephanie Launiu 4 years ago from Hawai'i

    This was a beautiful hub! You are right when you say that we who live in paradise often forget the privilege we've been granted. I accept this hub as a lesson to never, never forget. Kaua'i no ka oi...voted up, beautiful. I'm also sharing with my Facebook ohana.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Okay, we're in the same time zone as Oregon, so we are 9 hours "behind" you as well. It is about 11:35 PM S. African (also German) time as I write this. Very interesting to hear about this being your winter season now. Geography is a fascinating subject, and as I meet and read the articles of other Hubbers, I'm learning a great deal about our beautiful planet. Thanks for stopping by and for sharing, Teresa! Good night to you, Tony, and the kids!

  • Teresa Schultz profile image

    Teresa Schultz 4 years ago from East London, in South Africa

    We're currently about 9 hours ahead of Oregon, if that helps? It's our winter now (was 8 degrees celsius this morning - about 46 Farhenheit) when we drove the boys to school, their first day back after a three week school vacation, they're half way through their school year now. I hope you get to see Wailua Falls with your mom next year on her 80th - my dad turned 80 two months ago. Enjoy your afternoon and evening! (It's heading for 11pm here.)

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @Teresa Schultz

    Good morning to you and Tony! (I need to, at some point, figure out the time difference between Washington state and South Africa.) Thanks for viewing this Hub. I can't wait to get back to the islands for another visit. Hoping to do so next year when Mom, God-willing, celebrates her 80th. It's somewhat magical...to go back and see the island that I grew up on and the people that I grew up with. I left some of my siblings when they were just little ones, and now they have little ones who are their grandbabies. Having a wonderful and busy summer thus far, and I hope you, Tony, and your children are having a memorable time as well. Going through an "empty nest syndrome" period, and it's a good time to contemplate about life and do a lot of writing. Peace and blessings!

  • Teresa Schultz profile image

    Teresa Schultz 4 years ago from East London, in South Africa

    Eish, that hula hoop lady is a little close to the edge, hey? I watched the video too, wondered if the hoop would fly off the cliff top when it was hula hooping around her arm a bit, but she had her head partly in it at one stage, and maybe if it fell off the cliff it would have taken her with it. Maybe it was her way of enjoying nature, but I still think foolish. Interesting hub and beautiful place. You wouldn't get Tony up there though! I'm glad you seemed to enjoy and appreciate the place during your last visit there, when you mostly took it for granted in your younger days. One does that, though, so don't blame yourself. People seldom exlore or enjoy their own hometown areas as much as they do other areas. I plan to see more of my own town and country, before venturing further afield. Voting up, interesting and sharing.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @bdegiulio

    Hi, Bill! I truly believe you are in for a treat when you finally get to visit Kaua'i! And having visually and emotionally feasted on your writing and photography talent, I know you'll come away from that experience with one heck of a fascinating Hub to share with the rest of us. It means a lot to me that you enjoyed this article. Thanks for stopping by, and blessings on you and the fine work you're doing!

  • bdegiulio profile image

    Bill De Giulio 4 years ago from Massachusetts

    Absolutely beautiful. Kauai is one of the islands that we missed so we definitely want to go back to Hawaii and would love to visit the Wailua Falls. Watching the video certainly made me nervous for that woman. How unfortunate that people lose their lives in such a beautiful setting. Really enjoyed this Hub. Great job. VU,B,I,A, and sharing.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
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    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @wetnosedogs

    It's always good to make time to comment on and respond to your uplifiting notes. I make it a point to positively affirm that I'm going to invest a good deal of energy in HubPages--not just in the writing, but in the connecting with other members in my community as well. I appreciate that commitment and effort in you, too, wetnosedogs! Have a memorable day!

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
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    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    Hey, kashmir56! Can't remember if I ever asked you this or not, but is that a Yorkie? Cool dog with crazy shades! I need to do that with my cat, Kona! Thank you for reading my Hub! Looks like you're continuing to do fantastic work here on HubPages! Keep it up!

  • kashmir56 profile image

    Thomas Silvia 4 years ago from Massachusetts

    Hi my friend, thanks for all this great information, i enjoyed reading and learning more about Wailua Falls . Loved all the beautifully photos !

    Vote up and more !!!

  • wetnosedogs profile image

    wetnosedogs 4 years ago from Alabama

    I enjoyed this very much and the pictures are gorgeous.

    Glad you had a chance to go back and visit.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @Crystal_Tatum

    Hey, Crystal! Thanks for stopping by! Yes, there are several amazing falls in the islands. This is one of two that are my favorites on the island of Kaua'i. How about in your home state? Are there waterfalls in Georgia?

    Hope you'll someday soon have another opportunity to visit Hawai'i...and when you do, please see if you can get to the lookout point where you can see the Wailua Falls up close and personal...yet from a very safe vantage point. Aloha!

  • Crystal Tatum profile image

    Crystal Tatum 4 years ago from Georgia

    Absolutely breathtaking! I've been to Hawaii twice, but I've never seen the falls in person - I've seen them on TV, of course. Voted up.

  • hawaiianodysseus profile image
    Author

    Hawaiian Odysseus 4 years ago from Southeast Washington state

    @yoginijoy

    Thank you so much for stopping by and reading my Hub! Loved your piece about studying abroad. The subtle common denominator of our respective articles addresses the problem of ethnocentrism and how, in our rapidly emerging global village, there is zero tolerance for any one country's arrogance. The expectation that everyone should speak only "our" language, and we don't need to learn how to speak "theirs" goes hand in hand with disrespecting other cultures, lands, and people. Thank you for your encouragement, support, and great citizenship here on HubPages!

  • yoginijoy profile image

    yoginijoy 4 years ago from Mid-Atlantic, USA

    Such a beautiful place! Yes, Mother Nature must be respected, that's for sure. Great topic, I enjoyed it.

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