Two popular waterfalls can be found on a relatively easy hike along the Kapaa Stream in the Kealia Forest Reserve on the island of Kauai. Upper Hoopii Falls is a popular hangout where locals take turns jumping into the pool below. Farther downstream is Lower Hoopii Falls, made famous in the movie Jurassic Park as the location of the “Mano De Dios Amber Mine in the Dominican Republic.”
When visitors ask “what is an easy hike on Kauai” or “what is an easy to reach waterfall on Kauai,” Hoopii Falls Trail and Hoopii Falls are often the answers. Though the falls are easy to reach and access, extreme caution should be taken along the trail and at the waterfalls. Serious injuries and deaths have occurred at Hoopii Falls. Do not jump into the plunge pools even if you see other people jumping.
The Hoopii Falls hike and waterfalls get mixed reviews. Many visitors enjoy the tropical rain forest stroll and the chance to experience waterfalls up close and personal. Others lament the overused feel of the area and the relatively small size of the waterfalls. Experienced adventurers seeking something more off-the-beaten-path may want to try something different. Your experience may depend on the condition of the trail. Those visiting during drier times will have a much easier time. During or after rains, the trail can become slippery, treacherous and problematic.
Hoopii Falls Kauai Directions
The Hoopii Falls trail head is located on the edge of Kapaa, Kauai. There is parking for several cars along Kapahi Road (5925 Kapahi Road, Kapaa, Hawaii is an address located across from the parking area). Do not park on the residential side of the street. Click here for the location at Google Maps.
Hoopii Falls Photos
The Hoopii Falls trail starts at the parking area behind a yellow gate.
Despite some vegetation obscuring the trail at the entrance, the well-worn trail soon opens up. This is a popular trail for both tourists and locals (including kids from the neighborhood).
Look through the vegetation to the left to see a beautiful farm with goats.
The path can be extremely slippery, especially during or after rains, and you may have to climb under or over fallen trees and branches.
After about ten minutes you will reach Kapaa Stream. The trail continues along the right side of the stream. Kapaa Stream is usually gentle but can be dangerous at times.
On this visit in late 2018 there was a log in the plunge pool.
DJI Spark drone photo of Hoopii Falls.
When school is out you can often find more than a few kids from the nearby neighborhood jumping into the pool. For these kids, this is their neighborhood hangout! We do not recommend jumping into the waterfall’s plunge pool under any circumstances. In March 2019 a visitor to the waterfall died after jumping into the pool and striking his head on a rock.
Lower Hoopii Falls
Lower Hoopii Falls is known as the larger and more impressive of the two waterfalls. To reach the falls continue on the path down the stream past Upper Hoopii Falls for about another mile. The vegetation on this section of the trail is more dense. Navigate through the roots and intertwined branches and then through a forest draped with philodendron vines to reach the falls. Carefully make your way down the side of the falls to the lagoon. The lagoon is a favorite spot for swimming and swinging on a rope into the lagoon.
On the trail to Lower Hoopii Falls.
There is an overlook of Lower Hoopii Falls just off the main trail.
To reach the bottom of Lower Hoopii Falls proceed past the overlook on the trail about 50 feet and you will see a steep pathway with ropes down to the bottom. The pathway is similar but not as problematic as the pathways to the bottom of Wailua Falls and Hideaways Beach (for those with experience at those locations).
Lower Hoopii Falls is somewhat different than some other waterfalls on Kauai. There is a rocky shelf below the falls with the plunge pool located away from the main waterfall.
Since the plunge pool is located a distance from the main waterfall, visitors do not have to be concerned about logs or rocks coming over the falls. Generally, waterfall safety dictates no swimming underneath waterfalls due to falling objects. However, at Hoopii Falls, the pool can be safely enjoyed for swimming and rope swinging, though caution is urged at all times while in and around the water. Additionally, this area should be avoided during heavy rains and water flows.