The Secrets of Kauai

November 30, 2010 · 12 comments

Have you ever had the problem of getting away from other vacationers when on vacation? There are several tucked away spots on Kauai that can help you do it. Don’t worry, despite being officially known as secret spots, they still don’t draw enormous crowds.

Secret Beach

Located on Kauai’s north shore this beach is a true getaway.  It is best not to expect total seclusion, but you will find plenty of elbow room at Secret Beach.  First of all, most lodging on the island is located on the south and east shores and they each have plenty of beaches for their guests so not too many make the trip up north.  Access to secret beach takes a little effort, but it is well worth the effort.  A little jaunt down a dirt road off of highway 56 leads to a small parking area (this deters some beach goers) which then leads to the beach access trail.  This trail is a little tricky because it is fairly steep and slow going, but only takes about 10 minutes to get down. So don’t pack too much with you to the beach because coming back up will be a bit of a work out.  These factors help keep the beach comparatively empty.

Once down the trail, you will find the beach in front of you and to the right.  It is fairly big with a rocky shoreline here and there.  The sand here almost looks groomed – it is clean – no debris, no garbage, just the hot sand and you.  The waters give slow rolling waves with a decent break on the shoreline.  Swimming and boogie boarding are fun things to do in the ocean here.  Walking the beach and getting a good tan are very relaxing as you can do it without extra company.

beach walk Kauai

Secret Beach Trail

secret beach kauai

First look at secret beach

secret beach on hawaiian island

Secret beach

Secret Lava Pools

Instead of going right off the trail to Secret Beach, take a left (with shoes or sandals) towards the Secret Lava Pools.  Here, there are several boulders and an area where the flowing lava met the shore to create a hard rock shoreline.  These can be safely walked over to reach the pools, but be careful as it can be slippery and walking too close to the edge isn’t advisable.  You will see puddles of water in many of the lava rock holes where there are fish and crabs living.  Often fish will jump from one puddle to another as you approach which is fun to see.

Continue on the rocks for a few minutes until you get to a point where they take a turn back towards the south and eventually to a neighboring beach.  At this bend there are a few areas where the lava rock gives way to mostly tranquil pools, depending on the tide.  These are safe for swimming if you arrive at a time when the water isn’t too rough.  The Secret Lava Pools are worth the visit.  There are other lava pools on the island but as they tend to have several visitors at a time it might feel like you are just in rock water rather than a private bath.

lava pool trial in kauai

Lava Pool Trial

lava pool kauai

Lava Pool

Secret Falls

Best reached by kayak and then a short hike, visiting Secret Falls is a great activity.  Although it is a little more visited than the other secrets it has its perks.  Getting to Secret Falls is a lot of fun for the outdoors type and casual adventurer.  A short kayak trip up the Wialua River usually is the first leg of the journey.  The kayaks can be put in either 10 minutes from the trail head to the Secret Falls or 2.5 miles down the river.  Wialua River has no current so it is a gentle, not physically demanding trip through the beautiful Wialua River valley.  Once you reach a fork in the Wialua proceed up the northern fork (on your right) to shortly arrive at the trail head.

This trail is well traveled and not difficult to navigate but be sure to have some shoes or sandals which fit over your heels to get through the sometimes muddy areas.  After a quick and easy river crossing you will have a mile hike until reaching the falls.  There are many picturesque locations along the hike which are bested of course by the falls themselves.  The falls are safe to enter, but do so with caution.  At most the depth of the pool around the falls is six feet and there is room for swimming.  You will likely find a group of kayak tours (maybe you’re in one) at the falls but these come in waves so it is never too crowded.

Wailua river in Kauai

Wailua River kayakers from above

wailua river kauai

Wailua River kayakers

secret falls kauai

Secret Falls

waterfall kauai

Secret Falls

These “secrets” are great retreats from the crowd on Kauai. Enjoy them and be sure to take a camera!

This article was provided by Jake Garrett from The Villas at Poipu Kai. The Villas are prime Poipu vacation rentals, on the south side of the island.

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{ 12 comments… read them below or add one }

Neil Laubenthal December 1, 2010 at 2:58 AM

The Secret Falls pictures above are actually Hanaka’pai Falls which is on the Ne’Pali Coast on the North shore of the island about a 3 1/2 mile hike from the end of the road (2 miles or so down the coast and another 1 1/2 miles inland to get to the falls themselves. There is a falls named Secret Falls at the source end of the Wailua River after you kayak up it . . .but they are only a dozen feet or so wide. You also get to swing on the same rope swing that Harrison Ford swung out on to get to his float plane in one of the Indiana Jones movies.

I only know because we’ve been there twice and went to both sets of falls.

There’s the Secret Tunnel through the middle of the mountain too . . .an old abandoned irrigation tunnel through to the North Shore ridges . . .about a 2 mile hike through the tunnel . . .it was listed in the “adventure hikes” section of the Ultimate Kauai Guidebook which was the best guidebook available.

Secret Beach is the local clothing optional beach.

The Lava pools look more like the Spouting Horn area which is down on the South coast near the Botanical Garden next to the Poipu resort. I don’t recall anything similar up near Secret Beach.


AdventureRob December 3, 2010 at 4:30 AM

Thanks for the awesome comment! It seems there is much more to Kauai that meets the eye then :-)


Julie June 20, 2012 at 9:59 PM

Great comment! Thanks!


siemon February 5, 2014 at 4:30 PM

The lava pools are certainly there brother Rob.They are seasonally exposed,more so in ‘summer’ than in ‘winter’-as is the little waterfall to the immediate North of the seaside of the trail.
In winter,higher tides quickly close in upon the tidal pool area which is between Secret Beach and a small peninsular promontory which is 2 the bottom of a trail which is between 2 private houses above Kalikiwai Beach.

i lived in Kilauea for about 9 months,on island for 3.5 years,i’d hike from the little ‘town’ above to Kalikiwai,a place name shared by the beach.


Zablon Mukuba December 4, 2010 at 7:40 AM

the secret falls looks very beautiful, and i would love to go Kayaking


AdventureRob December 5, 2010 at 1:13 AM

Kayaking anywhere is good fun, more so if you manage to access a ‘secret’ area I guess ^_^


Gabriella December 6, 2010 at 10:21 AM

A lot of rain can actually be a good thing when you’re on the Garden Isle. If you’re the type of person that wants to hike around Kauai in search of its beautiful waterfalls, then winter is probably the best time for you to go. All that rain means big, gorgeous, flowing waterfalls.


Liezel December 6, 2010 at 10:44 AM

Thanks for sharing the secrets! I want to be here, very soon=)


Randy December 8, 2010 at 9:47 PM

I’m on the verge of cabin fever. It’s cold, dark and there is no snow yet in Western Massachusetts, so believe me when I tell you how much I needed to read a post like this. Great photos and tips! I’m not sure when I’m going to make it to Hawaii, but I’ve already jotted down the information so I’ll be prepared just in case of an emergency landing on Kauai.
Randy´s latest blogpost – Unique experiences in Petra that you’ll never forget!


AdventureRob December 9, 2010 at 2:42 AM

It’s certainly a place to hide away from the rest of the world from the looks of it, I wouldn’t mind a couple of weeks in Kauai.


Blanca Huff December 24, 2010 at 9:07 AM

the secret falls looks very beautiful, and i would love to go Kayaking


mbali February 15, 2011 at 4:57 AM

Great story. In your photos Kauai looks great.
I think this is truly amazing experience.


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