The best way to soak in the natural beauty of the Wailua River is from the water itself, and there are several options to do so. Many travelers paddle the waters by kayak; these trips often include a short hike to a waterfall for swimming. It’s also possible to explore by stand-up paddleboard or outrigger canoe. More comprehensive island tours sometimes include an open-air boat trip along the Wailua River to the Fern Grotto, a spectacular lava rock cave surrounded by draping ferns. Those traveling by car can follow the north side of the river along Kuamoo Road (Highway 580).
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Things to Know Before You Go
The Wailua River offers outdoor recreation for a broad range of travelers.
Don’t forget to bring along sunscreen, sunglasses, and hat, as not all portions of the river are shaded.
Wear comfortable shoes suitable for walking over uneven surfaces.
All state park facilities are ADA accessible.
How to Get There
The Wailua River enters the ocean on the island’s east coast, near the settlement of Wailua. Most visitors get to the river as part of a guided tour with included transportation from Kauai hotels.
When to Get There
The best time for outdoor adventure in Kauai is in fall (September to November) and spring (April to June) when the weather is at its best. Expect frequent showers during the winter peak season (December to March).
Cultural Significance of the Wailua River
The Wailua River is more than just a natural wonder. To ancient Hawaiians, it was considered one of the most sacred places on Kauai. At one time, seven differentheiau (temples) dotted its shores. Visitors can learn more at the Wailua Complex of Heiau, a National Historic Landmark and former hub of chiefly power.