Wailua River State Park

#9 in Best Things To Do in Kauai
Wailua River State Park
Wailua River State Park
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Michael Runkel/Getty Images

Key Info

Highway 56

Price & Hours

Free

Details

Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Recreation, Sightseeing, Free, Neighborhood/Area Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
3.8scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 1.0Food Scene
  • 4.0Atmosphere

If you want to experience Kauai's majestic rainforests without breaking too much of a sweat, then you'll want to add Wailua River State Park to your itinerary. This park is home to the only navigable river in Hawaii, allowing visitors to get an eyeful of the lush valley on a boat tour. Other popular points of interest in the park include Opaekaa Falls and Wailua Falls, both of which travelers can drive to. Wailua Falls is unique in that that the rocky terrain of the river above forms two separate streams that create two waterfalls in one spot. Meanwhile, the water of Opaekaa Falls glides down a jagged cliffside. From its vantage point, you can't see the source of the falls nor its end point; the area is completely shrouded in jungle vegetation. However, it is one of the most accessible waterfalls in Hawaii, with its vista point located right off of Kuamoo Road.

In addition to housing notable natural attractions, Wailua River State Park is known for its historical significance. Ancient Hawaiians used to consider this river sacred. As such, several temples and royal sites were located here. If you have time, stop at the Wailua Complex of Heiau, a National Historic Landmark that houses remnants of this era, including ruins, ancient birthing stones and stone carvings with petroglyphs.

Many travelers come to Wailua River State Park to see Wailua Falls, considered a top attraction in Kauai. If you plan a visit, heed the advice of reviewers and arrive early in the day to secure a parking spot. Others who visited the park ended up there thanks to tours or cruise excursions. Some suggested skipping a tour entirely (especially to the underwhelming fern grotto) and renting kayaks or paddleboards to enjoy the scenery at your own pace (nearby outfitters Kayak Kauai and Alii Kayaks offers rentals, paddleboard rentals and kayaking tours of the river).

Wailua River State Park is located on the east coast of Kauai in Wailua. The park is open to visitors during daylight hours; there are no admission fees. For more information on Wailua River State Park, visit the park's website.

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