Take A Break From The Crowds At This Underrated Waterfall Swimming Hole In Hawaii

It's no secret that Hawaii is one of the most stunning archipelagos in the world. For that reason, it's difficult to beat the crowds at whatever attraction you visit. However, Kalauao Falls has somehow managed to evade the hustle and bustle of the rest of the island. This underrated waterfall swimming hole is nestled in the Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation area on the island of Oahu. Far from the packed beaches and busy resorts, these secluded waterfalls offer a serene retreat for those seeking a more peaceful escape.

After a heavy rain storm, the breathtaking and majestic Kalauao Falls splash into the refreshing swimming hole beneath. To arrive at this Hawaiian destination for your next swimming adventure, you'll have to take a short hike on the road less taken. Venture through the surrounding landscape's lush greenery and listen to the soothing sounds of cascading water along the way. Once hikers have worked up a sweat and have arrived, many enjoy a dip in the swimming hole's turquoise waters.

The route to Kalauao Falls

To get to the Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation Area, drive about 12 miles from Waikiki, down Highway 78, taking the exit to 'Aiea. Once you spot 'Aiea Heights Drive, make a right and go three miles along. Eventually, you'll come across the park entrance, where you'll find the start of your hike to Kalauao Falls. The entry is free, and gates open at 7 a.m. all year long. One of the reasons Kalauao Falls isn't as popular as other attractions on Oahu is that the path there isn't marked by clear signage. In other words, while the 'Aiea Loop trail in the Keaiwa Heiau State Recreation area is extremely popular and heavily traveled, the path to Kalauao Falls is defined by a few makeshift orange ribbons and pink bottle caps.

For about a half mile, you'll begin your adventure on the 'Aiea Loop Trail. Once you come across the second meadow viewpoint, there will be a path-breaking to the left. Follow this footway, passing two forks. At the second fork, you'll see a tree painted purple. At that landmark, take a right into the river valley. From that point, you'll follow the markers upstream, switching back over the river to ease the incline until you come across the Kalauao Falls. To arrive back at your starting point, simply retrace your steps.

Things to be aware of before hiking to Kalauao Falls

Before you embark on your journey to Kalauao, there are a few things you should be aware of to ensure a safe and fun adventure. For starters, it is never guaranteed that the Kalauao Falls will be gushing with fresh water. Often, the stream and swimming pool are dried up. If you want to set yourself up to see the waterfall flowing, the best time to visit is shortly after heavy rainfall. As you walk along the trail, the trail should be muddy, and the river should be full.

While this isn't necessarily Hawaii's most dangerous hiking trail, be prepared for a slippery, challenging climb, and wear hiking shoes with a substantial grip. Additionally, it's advised that you check the park conditions and wait a few days before heading out after a rainstorm. The valley by Kalauao Falls is frequently subject to flash flooding. If you plan to go swimming in Kalauao Falls, another danger to be wary of is leptospirosis bacteria, as per OnlyInYourState. This infectious bacterial disease is commonly found in Hawaii's freshwater sources. Therefore, it is not recommended you enter the swimming hole if your body has any cuts or open wounds. However, if you choose to take a plunge, do not dunk your head beneath the water. Of course, the wilderness is unpredictable, and while the road less traveled increases the chance of encountering hidden gems, it can also increase safety risks.