How to: Swim in a 300ft Waterfall

Hanakapi’ai Falls is just off of the Kalalau Trail… which I will totally brag about completing until the day I die because that thing was no joke (and even though a portion of the trail to Hanakapi’ai is along the Kalalau trail, hiking to the waterfall is not the same thing as “hiking the Kalalau,” for the record. I have to emphasize that as another way of bragging. Sorry! Humor me.) 

Our plan was to hike to Kalalau Beach.


Hike back.

And on our way out, take the detour to the waterfall.

The hike kicked our butts though and our bodies were basically broken. We never could’ve made it to the waterfall on our way out and even if we had, we wouldn’t have made it out of the jungle that night. Somewhere around crawler’s ledge, we decided we’d save Hanakapi’ai for another day, and with two miles left in our hike, we carried-on, right past the trail head. 

We took a day to recoup, and with 22 miles under our belts, we almost decided to blow the waterfall off all together. 

This is a ‘how-to’ post because this hike was about living our best lives even when our bodies didn’t want to. 

You want larger-than-life experiences? Then you gotta go the extra mile. No pun intended, it’s just the truth. 

Set your alarm and force yourself out of bed when the roosters start to crow. Throw on a swimsuit and some hiking boots and beat feet to the trail! Get there before the crowd if you can so you can have the dream all to yourself.

When we finally reached the waterfall, I was left speechless for about the millionth time on this trip. The hike leads you directly to the pool at the base of the falls. The water cascades over a cliff, 300 ft overhead. And somewhere in the midst of the mist, I lost words. 


I looked up towards the top and white birds were flying in the sunlight over the sparkling water. I swear it’s like this moment was made of gold. There are no words and even though a picture is supposed to be worth 1000…there are no pictures that could ever capture the essence of what it’s like to stand in awe at the base of something so magical.


My hubby was all about diving-in and had pretty much already swam his way to the middle before I even found a spot to drop my bags.

I was all about it too actually…until I stepped foot in the water. Let me just say…this waterfall is in HAWAII… a place KNOWN for its warmth. If the water was anywhere near this cold the night the Titanic sank, then I am truly dumbfounded that people actually survived. 

But at any rate, I went in and I swam in that waterfall. And I wish I could say I looked cool doing it but really I just looked COLD. COLD AF, pardon the slang and pardon my French. 

hanakapiaifalls 4

So that’s it guys! Ain’t nothin’ to it but to do it! I hobbled my butt 8 miles for this one. My knee was so shot from all of the previous hiking that I had 60-year-olds passing me left and right. 

But what we all had in common was a craving for something more, and now what we all have forever is a moment of magic. 

Set your alarms peeps! (;


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