Paddle the Path of the AncientsKaua‘i

PADDLING A KAYAK up the WAILUA RIVER is more than a pleasant diversion—it’s a trek through a lush rainforest to an inviting waterfall, a journey through ancient Hawaiian sites and a few hours of healthy exercise delivered at a relaxing pace.

The easy 4-mile paddle and 2-mile hike to Uluwehi, or SECRET FALLS, is a popular trip that is available year-round. Paddlers can rent kayaks and navigate on their own, or sign up for a guided tour. Either way, it’s a great adventure fit for the entire family.

The journey begins in generally calm waters near the river mouth below the WAILUA BRIDGE on Kuhio Highway. Heading toward the interior, paddlers lose sight of daily commerce as the shoreline turns to lush vegetation painted with mango trees and brilliantly colored flowers.

If you decide to go the tour route, expect your guide to spin tales of this ancient river-valley as you paddle toward a spot where you’ll dock and continue on foot to a waterfall. You might hear stories about nightmarchers, who move in processions down the river where they enter canoes and paddle to Polihale. Once these spirits of the dead reach their final destination, it is said that they leap from the cliffs into the land of the dead beneath the sea.

High on the banks above the river, the ruins of an ancient temple recall a time when the area was the seat of the royalty. About 2.5 miles upstream, you’ll notice the re-created thatched-roof KAMOKILA HAWAIIAN VILLAGE, developed and operated by a local family.

Once you arrive at Secret Falls, a 100-foot gusher with small, refreshing pools, you can take a dip and bask in the nature of Kaua‘i’s stunning landscape.

Ali’i Kayaks (808) 241-7700
Duke’s Kayak Adventures (808) 639-2834
Kaua’i Waterski & Surf Co. (808) 822-3574
Kayak Wailua (808) 822-3388
Outfitters Kaua’i (808) 742-9667
Wailua River Guides (808) 821-2800
Wailua River Kayak Adventures (808) 822-5795