Best Kilauea Hike: Secret Beach, Tide Pools, and Waterfall

Tide pools and an oceanside waterfall are the beautiful rewards at the end of this half-hour, one-mile hike in Kilauea on the north shore of Kaua‘i. It’s important to note that this hike should only be done during summer when the ocean is completely flat.

It’s actually a combination of two hikes, one down to Secret Beach and another to the falls and tide pools. At the northern end of the beach at the bottom of the access trail, head over the rocks. After the small sandy area is a pretty spot where the water juts into the cliffs, and you’ll need to pass behind this. There’s a roughly 10-foot-tall vertical cliff to climb that presents two options: climb up over the cliff and stick to the rocks, or climb up on the end that’s over the water.

Secret Beach tide pools. Photo © Kevin Whitton.
Secret Beach tide pools. Photo © Kevin Whitton.

After passing this, stick to the trail high on the wall that backs the small cove. You’ll eventually reach some tide pools. Then, right before another finger of water juts into the cliffs, you’ll see the wonderful deep and smooth boulder-bottomed pools. Once you’re here it looks like this could be the end, but it’s not. There are several five- to six-foot-deep pools. They are beautiful pools that are generally clean and clear, and the rock bottom is smooth. The pool closest to the edge of the cliff needs to be avoided when the waves are anything but flat.

Where the cliff meets the finger, there is another small vertical cliff, about six- to eight-feet high. For an even better reward, climb it and head a very short distance inland to see the waterfall coming out of a small lush green crevice, pouring into more tide pools. This is far from Kaua‘i’s tallest waterfall, but the combination of an oceanside waterfall with salt tide pools is a unique sight to see and enjoy. The falls pour down onto a fairly flat rock area, and there is a small cave in back of the water perfect for sitting in as long as the falls aren’t pouring too heavily. The rock leading to the falls is extremely slippery, so taking your time is important, although walking above the falls and coming back down and around works too.

In front of this are several salt tide pools that the freshwater runs into. Please note again that this hike is dangerous when the waves are big and should generally be done only during the summer months. Even when the waves are small, hikers need to be aware of the ocean. There’s another, easier way to get here. Take the first Kalihiwai Road and pass the road to Secret Beach, then stop at the yellow fire hydrant. Take the trail here about 10 minutes down to the top of the waterfall. This isn’t nearly as exciting as the hike from Secret Beach, but it’s shorter and safer.

To get here, turn onto the first Kalihiwai Road heading north and take the first right onto a dirt road. Head to the end of the road, where parking is behind large homes.

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