Today we (me, Bae, my sister and her husband) decided to do have an adventure day including a bit of kayaking to a waterfall. We drive up to Lihue airport first so Bae and I can pick up our rental – of course it is a white convertible Mustang!
After getting the car we drove about 15 mins to Opekaa where we passed a few amazing outlooks before turning into the Hawaiian village.
The village itself is not all that.
Granted it is cool to have a look around and feeding the peacocks and chickens was fun (there are more chickens than people on Kauai) but the main draw of coming here is renting kayaks.
Compared to other tour operators in the area, offering the same tour to the waterfall, we opted for a self-guided tour.
The price was $35 per person (whether you rent one kayak or share one) and we decided to share kayaks with our Baes (thought 4 kayaks might get a bit crowded!)
After a (very) brief safety demo and pretty vague directions to the waterfall (just keep right) we set off from the dock. I must mention the very sweet dog hanging out there who was wearing a tie – so cutie!
The river was wide and relatively calm which made for a very relaxing ride. I would recommend going in the morning as it was very quiet when we set out, but as we were coming back the river and trails seem to be a lot more crowded. After about 15 minutes of kayaking we found the dock for Fern Grotto (which has a restroom) and stopped there to look at the Grotto (it is basically a wooden walkway through some cool vegetation and flowers, with a large deck facing a lovely tiny waterfall and a shit ton of ferns. If you like plants or if you need to go toilet, then I recommend the stop, if not, no loss.
The first stop on the kayak route is the Fern Grotto. Some people say it’s not worth stopping however, it is the only place that has toilets on the way, and is a bit of a welcome stop after a bumpy ride getting used to a tandem kayak! (LPT: don’t try to walk in the kayak! Even turning around to take pictures can be rather perilous!)
After docking our boats (looks for the row of tires but make sure you don’t park actually by the tires as the big tour boats stop here and your kayak WILL get crushed!), we started along the wooden walkway, surrounded by lush green ferns and other tropical plants. After passing the toilets, we arrive at “The Grotto”
Not sure if you can see but there are lots of tiny waterfalls in the background too. It was a lovely sight and there are a few benches you can sit at to admire the ferns.
We walked back, past a few larger, gushing waterfalls and some awesome tree tunnels
We jumped back onto our rafts and somehow went the wrong way as we missed out on the Kings Pond and the Tree Swing.
We did dock onto the landing point for Opekaa Falls, which is why we were there in the first place!
I bough a bag of chicken feed for $5 at the Village and fed curious chickens and roosters along the 30 minute hike (was mild, but don’t wear flip flops!).
The hike itself involves walking over large tree roots, and through corn fields and other quite rough terrain. Also be prepared to cross a few streams, about 3-4ft in width. There are ways to hop over it but to prevent any unnecessary falls (the tree roots get slippery when wet), we crossed slowly in bare feet. At the beginning of the hike is a large river that has a rope you can hold to walk gently across. Sometimes there is a slight line, but it moves generally quickly – sling your shoes over your shoulder for this one
We kayaked for about 15 more mins from the Grotto and came to the second dock where the short hike started to the waterfall. I will not lie, it was a bit more strenuous than we thought – it would have been ok if we brought proper shoes, but flip flops, especially when wet are not ideal. After about 30 minutes of hiking we could hear the lovely welcoming sound of rushing water and as we climbed up a steep incline, and crossed a few streams (bring a stick, defo worth it), suddenly the waterfall came into view.
It was well worth the hike! There were about a dozen or so people there already, chilling on the rocks or swimming in the pool, although no one was going near the waterfall! The water is cool, refreshing and just what we needed after a sweaty hike. We still had the birdseed which we bought at the Hawaiian village for about $5 and spent the next 30 minutes surrounded by chickens – or more specifically, roosters and their harems. Was quite amusing to see roosters attacking each other to make sure their harem of hens got enough food – weirdly though if you try to feed the roosters, they will not take the food or even seem interested – must have one thing on their minds…
After a quick snack of some sandwiches and dried fruit we went for a dip in the luscious clear pool and swam slowly but bravely towards the waterfall. The water was pummelling down and although we got close enough to be under the waterfall for a few seconds, the force of the water made us retreat back to the relative calm of the outer pool. Not before we enjoyed a romantic smooch behind it, because you got to do that once right!
Post swimming in the waterfalls – the falls themselves are very hard to stand under (something I just have to do when I see a waterfall!)
We stayed there for about an hour before setting off back to the canoe but ended up taking a wrong turn at the fork and went out of our way but the fun is always in the journey!
The ride back was even more interesting. Since the wind had picked up, we hadn’t anticipated having to fight against the wind current in order to stay on course – let’s just say that we had an impromptu up close and personal with some sharp brush along the river bank – ouch!
The trees around here look positively prehistoric!
Even if there are telephone poles, the sunset is still amazing!
Tune in Tomorrow!