Waialeale Falls Blue Hole Hike Kauai Hawaii
Time: ~12 Hours
Waialeale Falls Blue Hole Hike
Distance: 22 Miles RT
A True Adventure
This Mountain/valley/area is referred to by several names. "Mount Waialeale," "Waialeale Falls Hike," "Blue Hole." The reason there is no official name for this hike.. is because it's NOT an official hike. This is not like the 'Kalalau Trail,' with a clear, obvious path and a trail-head parking lot. Hiking into the center of the Mount Waialeale waterfall valley is not like other hikes. It takes planning, preparation, decision-making, and at times, following nothing more than a cardinal direction. Tyler and I got lost MANY times on our quest to the blue hole, back-tracked probably eight times, and more than once found ourselves climbing extremely dangerous cliffs with nothing but digging our hands into dirt and shrubs to prevent us from falling into the depths of a raging river-valley below. Many times on our journey into the mountain valleys there were no paths at all. We had to push through pure jungle, sometimes walking through foot-deep mud (we liked to call it quicksand), climb waterfalls, plow through rivers, hold on to vines to ascend cliffs. This was adventure at its finest. It became even more of an adventure when we stayed at the Blue Hole til 4 pm and the majority of our hike back was in moonless pitch-black darkness... At this point, what few trails there are, we couldn't see or find any of them so we hiked straight through the rivers.. full of slippery boulders, small rapids and sometimes waist-high water. Thankfully Tyler brought his headlamp and I shined with my phone light when I could .. otherwise it would have been impossible to navigate the rocks and we would have had to spend the night in the jungle until we could see our way out when the sun rose in the morning.
Normally on this website I document hikes and adventures, explaining "How to," where to go, where to start, where exactly to walk. This time I think I'm going to do it a little differently. I'll explain our trip, what we did and any advice that might be of value but I don't want to explain exactly where to go or how to get there. Let me explain why...
When me and Tyler hiked into the Mount Waialeale valley, seeking the blue hole and all its majesty,.. we had NO IDEA how to actually get there. I deduced very roughly where to start, and where the Blue Hole / waterfall valley destination was. That's literally all we knew... the start and end points. Everything between those two points was unknown. THIS is what made this hike so special. It actually felt like true exploration. No trails, no guides, no signs, no idea what lied between us and our destination. We were on a mission, a real adventure.
This is the reason I don't want to explain exactly every step-by-step action on how to get there, I don't want to rob you guys of that 'real exploring feeling' either. That 'true adventure' feeling is something I rarely get in this world.. in the age where many things are documented so well it's hard to find something so genuine as the Mount Waialeale hike.
So for the rest of this post, I'll explain some of the things we did along the way, a packing list, a map with a starting point.. But most importantly watch the video we made of our quest so that I didn't lug 35 pounds of camera gear on the trail for nothing 🙂
Boots. We both had waterproof boots. I wouldn't say that waterproof boots are essential, because for the majority of the hike we were walking through water that was higher than boot-level, so the water came in over the top of our boots anyway and soaked our feet the whole time. Boots in general however, are very very necessary. I wouldn't even think about trying this hike in shoes.
Pants. I had lightweight waterproof pants that worked perfect for this hike. The lighter pants you have, probably the better.. because they get really wet. I wouldn't wear shorts on this hike because we walked through so much thick brush, your legs would constantly get scraped up.. probably.
T-Shirt or light long-sleeve. I wore a T-Shirt and didn't get my arms too scraped up in the jungle. I may have been better off in a long sleeve shirt, but either way, it didn't really matter much what type of shirt we had, but you definitely won't need a jacket.
Backpack. We both had backpacks. Mine was full of super heavy camera stuff but you're definitely going to want something to carry your food, water and other junk..
Food and Water. Expect this hike to take an entire day, from sunrise to sunset if not longer. So pack some food and water accordingly. You won't die if you run out of water. You could always drink from the river as a last resort.. this river is as clean as they get, made of pure rain water from Mount Waialeale.
Headlamp. If you get stuck out there at night, you're definitely going to need a light of some kind to get back. If we didn't have Tyler's light, or at least our cell phone lights, we literally would have had to wait til dawn to start hiking back. The jungle and river is impassable without being able to see.
Energy. You have to get hyped about this hike in order to complete it, you have to be prepared mentally and physically to charge through jungles and rivers for hours on end. It's awesome!
Compass. You might want a compass, I used the one on my watch several times.
How to start out on the hike
- Drive to the 'Keahua Arboretum.' There is a nice little parking lot here. This is where we parked our car and prepared all our gear for the hike.
- Start walking Northwest on 'Kuamoo Road.'
- After ~1000 feet, you will come to an intersection of Kuamoo Road and an unnamed dirt/gravel road. Turn onto the gravel road and follow that south.
- Follow the gravel/dirt road for roughly a mile. There will be two spots on the road where it is completely flooded with water. Sometimes the water is 8 inches tall, sometimes the water is 2 or 3 feet tall. You don't want to get your boots wet this early on in the hike (that will come later), so we took our boots off and walked across these flooded areas barefoot.
- After you follow this muddy road for roughly a mile, it is time to turn straight West. At this point the muddy road turns into a maze of muddy roads. This is one area we got lost a few times and had to backtrack. Whichever road you're on, you just need to make sure you're heading West, and towards the end-goal of the Waialeale mountain peak.
- After about 1 or 2 miles of walking West, the road ends and the fun begins.
- From this point on, the rivers will be your guides. Head upstream, following the rivers West, and towards Mount Waialeale. As you get closer to the mountain this will get more and more difficult. The river gets deeper, the water gets faster, the mud gets deeper, the trails disappear, the rain comes and the route gets treacherous if you get lost and go the wrong way up a cliff like we did.
- Once you make it to the finish line, you will be standing in a place very few people have ever stepped foot, one of the most magical places on Earth. You might find a canyon wall where 3 narrow waterfalls meet and create a little pool: I am naming this the 'Fountain of Youth' .. so make sure to baptize yourself in the water so that you may never grow old.
- Be careful out there friends! and let me know if you made it!
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