Waialeale Blue Hole Hike
The 'Blue Hole' is at the base of Wai'ale'ale, which is just below the cliffs that one of the wettest spots on earth. Locals refer to this location as the Wailua Headwaters; it's where you see the falls coming down the wall. This page is meant to direct you to the Weir (stream diversion) where you can see into the Wai'ale'ale basin; it is not meant to guide you to hike to the Wailua Headwaters. Having done the hike to the back wall myself, I can say with some certainty that the 'Blue Hole' hike is extremely difficult and technical, and for that reason this page is not meant to direct you to the actual 'Blue Hole'. Many people have gotten disoriented attemptiong to reach the Wailua Headwaters; even locals who are familiar with Kauai have been stranded and had to spend one or more nights out in the jungle with no supplies. Moreover, rain can occur quickly and heavily in this area; if it does, the river will flash flood and if you are above Guardian Falls, the way will be impassable until the water subsides. It is not uncommon for clear ankle deep water to trun into a chest high raging torrent in under an hour - you need to be aware of the signs that the environment is changing before it occurs; otehrwise it may be too late to get out before a flood. I cannot stress the importance of this enough; every year people die on Kauai in flash floods and hunders get stranded and either have to spend the night or be rescued by helicopter. A helicopter rescue in Waialeale Basin would be extremely difficult and dangerous and there is no guarantee that you would even be able to get help as cell phone receiption is spotty up in the basin.
Waialeale is one of the most sacred places on Kauai; the Wailua Headwaters is the spiritual womb of the island and people should only venture there with a clear intent of prayer. If you do feel called to go, we highly recommend a reputable guide who can get you there and back safely (see further below).
At the end of Highway 580, Kuamo'o Road will end abruptly at the Keahua Stream crossing near Keahua Arboretum. You can park in the parking lot on your left and begin your hike (unless you have 4x4, then you can proceed at your own risk). The drive beyond the paved highway is very rough, bumpy, often muddy, and dangerous in spots (especially when crossing streams).
The road heads inland beyond Kuamo'o Road and the Wailua Reservoir to the Keahua Arboretum. You will cross a second spillway just past the arboretum followed by a series of power towers. You'll quickly see why it was a good idea to hike this versus using your rental car. Truck-swallowing pot holes and puddles the size of small lakes would be sure to slow you down and ruin your car. Continue along the Wailua Forest Management Road (maintained by Na Ala Hele). The road will bear right and continue for about .5 of a mile until you reach a major fork in the road. Here you will see a Hunting Unit C sign nailed to a tree asking people to not pick up "lost" hunting dogs. If for some reason you have made it this far by driving, do not try to drive any farther unless it has been extremely dry recently (not likely). The road gets even worse beyond this point. If you take the right fork for about one mile you will be at the Waialeale Stream Convergence. Here the Wailua River is joined by two streams all heading to Wailua Bay. But this isn't what you've come to see. Back at the fork, the left trail crosses streams and winds through the dense forest for about 1.5 miles to the, 'Gate,' used in "Jurassic Park." During all of our visits between 2009-2012 the gate was open; which for us was a first. If it's open and you've driven this far, we suggest parking at the Waikoko (Jungle hike) trailhead, which is about 0.15 of a mile from the diversion (locals call it the 'weir'). Beyond the gate, you'll stroll for about half an hour through lush outcroppings of banana, Ti plants and ginger to the water diversion - a hand dug ditch and concrete dam (weir) which helps divert water from the Wailua River. In front of you are the lush green walls of Waialeale box canyon etched with long trails of waterfalls. On those rare, clear occasions this is a great view. Or you can just sit for awhile and watch the clouds drift in and out of the canyon along with some helicopters. For those intrepid, not to mention fit and experienced, hikers who want to get up close and personal with the "Blue Hole," expect to do a lot of stream crossing and bolder hopping (we recommend tabis or gumi shoes; which are felt-soled and hold onto rocks better).
A number of local Hawaiians have become upset with the amount of poeple now attempting to hike to the Blue Hole. This is a very sacred place and if you go, you should only do so with a clear purpose and benevolent intent. We also highly recommend you consult with a knowledgeable guide to take you beyond the weir because of the numerous risk factors with a significant consequence if something does go wrong while you are up there. Our personal recommendation is Kauai Hiking Adventures.
It's a long, and strenuous trek up the streams to the back wall. As you boulder hop up the streams, when you get to a three-way waterfall (aka what some call "Guardian Falls" or the 'three-way convergence'), you have to find/climb your way up, continue via another stream, and cross over some small ridges before you reach the headwaters (back wall or true 'Blue Hole'). We have found a 7.5' TOPO map created by the USGS of this route and we have cropped it accordingly: Waialeale Topo Map. The only real issue with this topo is that it does not accurately represent the streams. It shows only two streams near the west wall where there are in fact three. Additionally the TOPO makes it appear that one creek originates east of Kawaikini and then down a 45-degree canyon on the south end of the inner wall. These walls are actually vertical. If you don't feel like making this trek on your own, you can still get to the views of the back wall near the dam/weir by taking a guided tour. During a previous visit we decided to give the tour a try and really enjoyed it. If you can hike it, the following should provide additional details on how to get to the dam view.
The route in can be a bit confusing, so we've included a rough Wai'ale'ale Blue Hole route map to help. This map is NOT meant to be used for navigating yourself to the 'Blue Hole' - it is for entertainment purposes only. -DRIVE 7 miles (all paved) to parking lot at end of Kuamo'o Road and park. -Cross the first spillway next to parking lot. Keahua Arboretum is on your left. -At 0.1-mile is the Kuilau trailhead on the right (also trailhead for Powerline) -At 0.5-mile is the second spillway. Use caution crossing and don't cross at all if the water is up and/or moving fast. -Continue 1 mile along straight road until it makes a right toward the Waialeale basin. In another .5-mile is a fork in the road. -Take a LEFT at the fork (C-dog) sign. From here it's 1.5 miles to the gate. -It's another 0.5 miles (approx) to the diversion (weir) where the 'Blue Hole' hike begins Total Mileage: 0.5 (to Second Spillway) + 1.5 (to the road fork) + 1.5 (to the gate) = 3.5 miles one way (7 RT) not including half-mile hike to the 'Blue Hole' viewpoint. So 8 miles total round trip if you stop at the weir. The distance will be much further if you continue towards the 'back wall.'
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Description: The 'Blue Hole' is at the base of Wai'ale'ale, which is just below the cliffs that one of the wettest spots on earth. Locals refer to this location as the Wailua Headwaters; it's where you see the...
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