If you're feeling extra adventurous on your trip to Kauai and want to do another excellent hike, then we'd highly suggest you consider the Makaleha Falls hike in east Kauai.

John Derrick
Published on: 07-12-2019
Published by: John C. Derrick
Makaleha Falls Hike Image

Makaleha Falls Hike

The trail meanders along the stream through lush vegetation as you head towards the falls. After the first river crossing, you will come into a bamboo forest with a giant Albizia tree.   Following the roots of the tree uphill for 20 yards will bring you into a microcosm of tiny bamboo plants on top of a hill.  A steep and muddy drop takes you back down to the river at which point you continue upstream, crossing the stream on multiple occasions.  In the upper portion of the river; there are two main drainages.  

The drainage to the right takes you to the waterfall with a swimming hole; but the basin to the left is the main drainage so be highly aware of the weather,  If there is heavy rain high up in the mountains, turn around immediately and head back; even if the drainage to the right is not rising in water levels.  

In recent years there have been several helicopter rescues on this river. In many cases, experienced hikers have been in the right-hand drainage where it is only lightly sprinkling, relaxing and enjoying a picnic, only to find upon their return to the confluence that the previously tranquil river is now a waist or chest high freight-train roiling down the valley and blocking further access downstream.  It would be a long, cold, and miserable night out there on the little piece of land between the two streams, so don't chance it when it comes to flash floods.

Makaleha is not a maintained trail; it's a hunters route up the river valley.  To head upstream, you will need to criss-cross the river several times and walk through it in parts. Felt bottom river shoes (called tabis by the locals) are essential for hiking here so as not to slip and injure yourself on the wet rocks.  

If you are not used to hiking off-trail, Makaleha can prove difficult and challenging in many places.  The route crosses the river frequently and often disappears completely. There is a lot of rock hopping, walking through the stream bed and bushwhacking through overgrown vegetation but it is an experience well worth the effort.

Geolocation Data

Geographic Coordinates

Latitude: 22.10231633
Longitude: -159.3857081

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Makaleha Falls Hike Photo Gallery

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