Aquatic hike to the Secret falls of Kauai (Uluwehi falls)
The Secret falls of Kauai, also called Uluwehi falls, are not really secret anymore, but they offer a very nice combination of kayaking and walking to discover them in the middle of the jungle, in the Wailua River area.
To get to the falls, it is essential to rent a canoe or paddle for a few hours to reach a tributary of the Wailua River from where the short hike to the waterfall starts. This expedition is quite popular and many tour companies offer to take you there for half a day from Wailua. But the most pleasant way is to discover the waterfall by yourself by renting a small boat, especially since the navigation on the Wailua River is quite short and without difficulty.
1Where to rent your canoe to get to Secret falls (Uluwehi falls)
We recommend that you come directly to Kamokila Hawaiian village to rent your canoe. This is where you will find the best rates but it is also the closest launching point to the various sites to explore by canoe on the Wailua River. Otherwise you will have to start from the mouth of the Wailua River which adds a little more navigation time and the river is not very interesting on this first section.
If you choose to rent your canoe at Kamokila Hawaiian village, come there at the beginning of the morning around 9:00-9:30 am to make sure you have a canoe available, otherwise in the early afternoon, when the first ones will be back.
2The first part by canoe
From the Kamokilan Hawaiian village, it will take between 10 and 15 minutes of navigation to get to the starting point of the hike. To get there, simply follow the map that you will be given when you pick up your canoe. Once you arrive, you will find a small dirt beach where you can drop off your canoe.
3Hiking to Secret Falls
Once you've "parked" your canoe, follow the path that goes deep into the jungle. It is well-travelled and wide enough to be easily spotted.
It is a pleasant walk through lush, dense jungle. After about 10 minutes you will reach a river that you will have to ford. Nothing very bad but depending on the rains that will have preceded your arrival, the river will be more or less high knowing that its level seldom exceeds the mid-thighs.
A small rope allows you to reassure yourself during the crossing, but be careful, it is quite flexible, so it is preferable not to lean on it completely.
Once on the other side, the trail will follow the river almost all the way to the end. Most of the time, it is in the shade, which is not to displease us but has the disadvantage of making it very muddy! However, be careful not to get your feet caught in the many roots that emerge from the ground.
Note that the trail can be made extremely slippery if it has rained a lot the previous days. Be careful!
After about 25 minutes of walking, the trail leaves the river. We then arrive at King's Bath, the first curiosity to be seen along the way, which is more a small waterfall lined with basalt columns than a basin as its name suggests. A little later, the trail crosses another river, this time with a small pool that looks like a pond: here is Queen's bath (don't worry if you miss it, because it is not obvious and is not incredible).
The trail goes on for a few more minutes before arriving in view of Secret Falls. The waterfall of about 30 meters falls in a small bower of greenery and rocks. The place is charming, cool and shady. It's a great opportunity to have a snack or a lunch after a swim. The water is cool but the bathing is very pleasant, especially after the walk!
Note that even if we did, it is not advisable to swim under the waterfall because stones can fall from it.
However, there is a good chance that you will not be the only ones here! We were surprised to see so many people here even though this place is quite remote. The fault lies with the many providers who organize excursions up to here... It spoils a little bit the fun once you get to the waterfall.
In total, it takes about 40 minutes of walking in addition to the canoe approach to get to Secrets Falls. Count 1h30 to 2h00 to make the full round trip from Kamokila Hawaiian Village.
4Our tips before starting the aquatic hike
Beware of the mud that can make the trail really unpleasant. Alas, it is a bit difficult to know in advance the state of the trail but be aware that there is a good chance that it will be very muddy if it has been raining a lot on the previous day(s).
Put on "windsurfing" type shoes that will be very practical to go from canoeing to hiking without taking off your shoes, or to easily ford the river while hiking.We recommend you for example this type of model (to choose on the amazon website of your country).
Finally, don't forget to take a small backpack with you to put your things in, which you will then slip into your large waterproof bag that will be provided by your renter. During the hike you can leave your waterproof bag in the canoe and only take your small backpack with you (much more practical!).