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Waimanu Valley Waterfalls

Hiking into Waimanu Valley

On the second day of our backpacking trip to Waimanu Valley, we set off to check out some waterfalls. We found two.

Wai'ilikahi Falls, Waimanu Valley

Wai’ilikahi Falls, with its enormous swimming pool.

Kaka'auki Falls, Waimanu Valley

The Waimanu Series:
This is the second post in a five-part series on Waimanu. More from this series:

And Kaka’auki Falls, with a smaller enclosed pool.

All of the falls in Waimanu Valley are huge as they start a couple thousand feet up from the top of the valley walls. Some are broken up into multiple drops however, so you can’t always see the full height. If you stick to the West valley wall, you should theoretically hit four main falls, in this order: Wai’ilikahi Falls, Kaka’auki Falls, Lahomene Falls and then Waihulu Falls. (See details on the World Waterfall Database.)

But finding the falls past Wai’ilikahi Falls could be a challenge. Once you get past Wai’ilikai Falls, the trail gets faint and is very poorly marked. Some of the trails we followed may have even been pig trails. If you have time and determination though, you may be able to see them all. Just be prepared for some rugged hiking and have enough food and drink in case you get lost.

If nothing else though, you must go to the very accessible Wai’ilikahi Falls. It’s amazing.

Morning on the second day was overcast.

It had drizzled that night and the falls were flowing stronger. You can see our main objective, Wai’ilikahi Falls, on the right. Towards the center you can see the top of Kaka’auki Falls (which we thought was Lahomene.) Lahomene Falls sits around the ridge past Kaka’auki Falls.

You get to the trail by walking to the west end of the camp ground.

From there you’ll see a trail that leads you into the forest.

Make sure you look to your right to make sure you’re following the valley wall.

After about an hour of hiking you’ll start to hear the waterfall and see it peeking through the trees.

You’ll feel a strong breeze flowing down the face of the cliff.

This is the biggest waterfall I’ve ever hiked to in Hawaii. And what we’re seeing here is only the lower section. There’s another drop about this same size above.

We all jumped in. The water was ice cold.

The swimming pool here at Wai’ilikahi Falls was also the biggest I’ve seen.

Inspired by photos of Pete Clines climbing (on, Reanne climbed up the side of the falls.

Finding a good perch she turned around to face the pool.

And jumped.

Something to consider here if you attempt this is that Reanne touched the bottom of this pool on this jump. So, diving head-first from that high up would probably be a bad idea.

Once we were done at Wai’ilikai Falls, we made our way back into the forest to try to find Lahomene Falls.

The trails are faint and confusing. It’s hard to see the valley wall through the canopy so we couldn’t use that as a guide. We relied a lot on our instinct. Actually, to be honest, we pretty much just followed Kaleo.

Hiking beyond Wai’ilikahi was slow going.

We improvised in certain spots to regain the trail.

But eventually we made it to the waterfall after Wai’ilikahi. As it turns out this is Kaka’auki Falls. It’s a huge waterfall but the drops closest to the ground are pretty modest in height.

But this room is pretty cool.

On our return hike back to camp, we stopped at a stream where Ryan and Lei spotted a bunch of river prawns. Cory geared up …

.. and channeled his inner predator.

It was amazing … every 10-30 seconds, Cory would pop up with a prawn or two. He would toss them over to Reanne who would collect them in a bag.

This was one of the larger ones.

There’s other fresh food to be found in the valley. Guava trees are everywhere.

Shortly after we got back to camp the rains came. It rained off and on through the evening, and at night, it poured.

So while it made the night cold and wet, in the morning we got a nice reward. When I woke up I could hear the sounds of Brian’s camera going off. I poked my head out of my tent to see this.

The waterfalls in the back of the valley were going off. We counted something like 13 waterfalls in total.

The Waimanu Series

This is the second post in a five-part series on Waimanu. More from this series:

See also:

This story was last modified on October 20, 2013. (Originally published in September 2011.)

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