Thursday, October 20, 2011

Kaliuwa'a (Sacred Falls)

I am gonna start this by saying I in no way recommend going to these falls and if you do so, you will be trespassing and risking the chance of being arrested or fined or even injured.  There is a reason this place is closed.  This past march me and my wife took a trip to Maui and while there we hiked to a waterfall in which the walls completely closed in where the falls were, very similar to Sacred Falls.  When I reached these falls in Maui a huge boulder came down and hit in the water a few feet from me and made the loudest thump sound I have ever heard.  I was about as scared as I have ever been and wasted no time in getting out of that place.  For some reason after that happened and we returned to Oahu, I became even more intrigued with visiting Sacred Falls.

For those that don't know Sacred Falls is a 4 mile round trip waterfall hike located in a state park in Hau'ula, that has been completely shut down due to a tragic accident on mothers day of 1999 in which 8 people died and over 30 were injured by falling rocks.  The state has never reopened the trail due to the liability issues and the fact that they believe the possibility for another rockslide and more injuries and deaths is very likely if the falls are reopened.  On top of the deaths and injuries from the rockslide that day, many other deaths and injuries have also occured here before the 1999 incident.  People had been killed by falling rocks before this incident and many have been injured, killed, or rescued due to flash floods that sweep through the area. 

Once again I don't recommend doing this hike and I am not telling anyone to trespass but on the day I went, this is how I did it.  I drove towards Hau'ula from the Kaneohe side of the island and about a half mile before reaching Sacred Falls State Park I parked just off the road on the right side of the street where there is a beach.  I walked about five to ten minutes down the street to where Sacred Falls State Park was on my left hand side right in front of me.  Directly across the street from Sacred Falls state park is.  On the opposite side of the road there is a little beach where I hung out until I saw that the coast was clear and then I ran across the street and headed into the park.  I had heard from others that parking at the little pullout by the beach right across from the park entrance was a horrible idea and that if I did so there might be a cop waiting for me when I came out.  This made perfect sense to me and I figured if I had done it that way that I would have been asking for trouble and simply drawing attention to the fact that I was in the park.  As I was at the beach and looking at the park I saw a yellow gate and to the left of that gate I saw a little path, and went towards that path and not through the gate.  The path took me directly into the woods and kept me hidden.

Once on the trail everything was pretty straight forward.  At one point, as I was going down the road I reached a blue no trespassing sign with a junction and luckily took the left route which happened to be the correct one.  Shortly after this I ended up walking on the side of the stream and crossing it a few times and despite what i've heard from some people, I believe the trail is in fairly good shape and very recognizable the whole way.  Near the end of the trail I came out of the trees and was able to witness for myself exactly why this place is considered so dangerous.  Just before the waterfall I crossed to the right side of the stream and as I looked up I saw that the walls were closing in on me and if there were to be a rockslide or flashflood there would be no where for me to go.  There is no higher ground.  If it hasn't been raining to hard recently the pool will be a turqoise green color as it was for me and will be incredibly inviting.  There is definetly a weird feeling one gets when you are back at the falls.  Me and the two people I was with decided to swim on this day but we were all quiet and respectful when doing so.  A total of three rocks fell (none bigger than a golf ball in size) when we were at the falls.  None were big but even a small rock falling from that height could result in death or serious injury.  We decided that we had tempted fate long enough and knew it was time to head out. 

The feeling I got while at the falls was so eerie and to be honest I really don't think I will ever go back.  It is still dangerous back at the falls and if a rockslide ever does happen again, whoever is back there will be helpless and positively injured or killed.  I have seen some videos recently on youtube of small groups at the falls and in a few of the videos people have been swimming and jumping into the pool and yelling and screaming while at the falls.  If you do make the decision to go to the falls do not be that person.  Yelling in an area that is known for rockslides is just pure stupidity, and on top of that this place is very special and is obviously a cemetery.  Respect it and treat it as the special place it is and not as if it were your own little playground.

This is an amazing falls but like i've stated before, it has the possibility to be very dangerous at any given moment.  Never attempt this hike if it has been raining hard or if there is a flash flood warning.  It is extremely dangerous to be back there in these conditions.  The very last thing is that I have never seen guards and have never heard of guards being there from my friends who have gone either.  To be honest I have never heard of anyone that I personally know of having an issue with going to the falls.  But as I say that do realize that you are trespassing if you go and if caught you will be fined or in an extreme case taken to jail.  Once again, I do not condone trespassing or recommend doing this hike but I also know that some people are like me and just have to see this place at least once.  This post is not telling you to go but instead is here to inform you of the dangers if you do decide to tempt fate.  For everyone reading this, be safe hiking and always remember that while on the trails here there is always danger.  The easiest way to avoid something bad happening is to not go at all. 

Here are the coordinates for the state park.  I park about half a mile down the road and then walk to this point.  Please don't be stupid and park here.  There very well could be a cop waiting for you when you come out.  N21 36.053 W157 53.878


  1. People who go up there are stupid and selfish. Something happens then the fire dept has to risk there life over your stupidity

  2. I agree. it's like an ego boost for some people to defy all reason and respect for the native culture, not to mention that they think it is sexy to defy authority. Do they give one fig about the danger that they put others in who are obligated to rescue them one their egos get them into trouble? Of course not. The place is eerie for a reason. Humans are probably not supposed to be there. That is why it is called "Sacred Falls". Even if you do get away with it, I do believe that you will no doubt incur some type of karma by breaking the cultural taboo. If even the natives don't go there, then what makes you think you lame tourists should be there? Show your respect by respecting the local customs, or stay home! Geez.

  3. Aloha,

    While the Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources appreciates this blog's recognition of the safety and legal issues associated with entry into Sacred Falls State Park, we are concerned that you give specific directions to the long-closed park. In February 2015 we released a video, "Sacred Falls-Don't Risk Your Life, Jail or a Fine" which depicts the dangers and cultural disrespect when people illegally enter the park. After the release of this video (link below) several popular websites voluntarily removed directions to the park from their sites. They felt this was not only the responsible thing to do, but also eliminates the worry that if someone got hurt or killed after following their directions into the park, they would be responsible. We respectfully ask you to do the same.


    Hawaii Dept. of Land and Natural Resources

  4. I was blessed to walk the trails in the 60's when I was in elementary school

  5. I was here and have pictures that look exactly like these. I was there in 1984. It was beautiful. There were quite a few people doing the hike. I do not recall any mention of rocks falling, etc., but then it was the mid 1980s.

  6. When I was a child we used to hike to Sacred Falls and climb up the falls and jump to the pond below. Since then I have visited Oahu and have not hiked to the falls since it was closed.