Kauai is a land of challenging but spectacular hikes. The terrain is rough and not for the faint hearted.

For the hiker who wants a more relaxed experience of the Garden Isle, Ho'opi'i Falls offers a mellow walking trail in a beautiful place. Located very close to Kapaa town, the place was once a local secret - now more well known but still its natural beauty remains intact. In summer the trail is dry and the water cool and refreshing to swim in. The inclines are gradual and there are only a couple of spots where minimal climbing over rocks is required.

The Ho'opi'i trail provides a taste of Kauai's sacred garden energy.  I am very blessed that this place is located just a short drive from where I live.  Some days a walking meditation is just what is needed to clear the mind and I decided that today, Ho'opi'i Falls would be just the place for that.  As soon as I left the suburban street behind me and began walking along the trail it immediately felt like I was entering another world.  Green lilikois, deep purple berries and many leaves littered the ground, and as the path led down a gentle slope towards the bubbling stream, I began to relax. 

Kukui nuts embedded into the earth created a black pebble-like walkway.  Nature was revealing her beauty to me in the precious details of the colorful scene that surrounded me.  In a moment of being genuinely fascinated by the intricate details of mother nature's perfection, I felt I was seeing the world as if through the eyes of a child, in wonder and in joy.  Suddenly the incessant thoughts of my mind faded into the background and a deeper perspective on life prevailed.  My world felt lighter.

As I meandered down the path, I looked up to see towering Albizia trees reaching their branches towards the sky painting a green lace-like pattern on the blue canvas above.  Their trunks looked as though they had been doused white with a lazy wide brush stroke.  Like pillars of an ancient cathedral, they stood tall and strong.  Underneath the canopy, with the midday light filtering though, it felt like a sacred place to just be.  A place to be still and to enjoy a sense of calm and inner peace.  The magic and mystique of Kauai.

The sound of the stream awakened my senses and the reflections of trees in water soothed my soul.  I could hear a waterfall nearby and decided to explore.  The trail rose up along a ridge and down below I could see the upper falls.  Folks were jumping off the rocks into the water.  I was tempted to swim but wanted to see what lay ahead on the trail.  After walking through entangled Hau trees and enjoying the array of orange flowers all over the path, I found myself in another grove of Albizia trees, deeper into the valley.  Vines were hanging like Tarzan ropes and tall twisty trees were covered in creeping plants with gigantic heart-shaped leaves that were curling their way skyward.

Following the path adjacent to the stream, I could hear a gentle roar of another waterfall and this sound encouraged me to keep moving.  It wasn't long before the ridge trail began to dip again towards the river and Ho'opi'i Falls was in full view.  The falls were flowing but it was easy to see that in floods the entire rock wall would be covered in white water.  I could no longer resist the cool dip that awaited, I slowly navigated the slippery rocks and eased into the pool, allowing waves of white water to wash over me - cleansing and rejuvenating experience. The sound of rushing water drowned out the voices of the people around me. In that moment I noticed two faces in the rock wall.  Foreheads together like in a 'Maori kiss', it seemed the rock beings here were very present and alive.  Hawaiian people hold sacred the knowing that rocks are just as alive as plants and animals. 

Experiencing another moment of fascination with mother nature's detail, I relished the feeling of meditation and inner peace that it brought - something that is never to be taken for granted.  As I headed back the way I came, I took that feeling with me and the feeling of magic and mystique of Kauai's secret garden stayed with me for days to come. 

www.kauaihikingadventures.com offers personalized tours of Ho'opi'i Falls.

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