Ka’au Crater

Yesterday, I managed to finally make it to Ka’au Crater. It was, in a word,…..amazing. Ka’au Crater is a large crater tucked away towards the very tops of the Ko’olau Mountain Range and can be reached via a long walk through Palolo Valley. Wai’oma’o stream runs through the valley and there were numerous waterfalls along the way. The trail had pretty much everything: jungle hiking, ridge hiking, rock climbing, and waterfall….hiking. Not hiking to waterfalls but actually hiking up the waterfall itself. It was a blast! Please enjoy my photowalk through Palolo Valley, it’s three waterfalls, and to Ka’au Crater high above.
Ka'au Crater Falls Opener

After an early morning wake up, I set off for Honolulu in rush hour traffic. ^^;

I wanted an early start because I had to pick my girlfriend up at the airport later in the day. Plus, this trail is known by quite a few hikers so there’s always folks there by the afternoon….
After quietly making my way down from the “temple road” it felt like I had entered another world. All around me was one of the most beautiful rainforests I have ever seen. This was just the beginning…..
Wai'oma'o Stream
Almost immediately, the trail made its way down to Wai’oma’o Stream.

My first thoughts were that the water looked kind of brown.
It’s actually supposed to look like that. I read somewhere that it was due to the water collecting inside the marshy Ka’au Crater high above in the hills….
Stacked Rocks
The Ka’au Crater hike definitely had a Buddhist theme and one of “harmony with nature”.
Along the path, I would occasionally see stacked rocks. I have seen this kind of rock stacking in Japan and Korea as well. It brought back some memories. (:
Wai'oma'o Stream Crossing
The path to Ka’au Crater is extremely well marked and well traveled so it’s hard to get lost. The early parts of the trail have you rock hopping from one side of the stream to the other. This doesn’t last too long though…
Pipe and Roots
Eventually, the trail comes to this metallic pipe which follows the trail all the way to the falls.

At times, the trail would be nearly eroded away so having this pipe actually helped out on parts….
Fungus would occassionally line the path of the trail. I imagine this area gets a lot of rain.

Thankfully, it did not rain on my little adventure. It was actually a really nice day (for once). I’m so used to getting rained on when I go into the mountains! lol =p
Pink Flowers
Along the trail would also be trees with pretty pink flowers. The petals were falling off the flowers so the trails were covered in pink at times.
Ridge Middle Point
After a while, the trail leaves Wai’oma’o stream and heads along the side of the ridge all the way to Wai’oma’o Falls.
This section was gorgeous but it did feel a little long. There were times when it felt like the falls would be around the corner but the trail would keep going. ^^;

It took me a little over an hour to make it to Wai’oma’o Falls….
Wai'oma'o First Falls
When I first saw Wai’oma’o Falls (first one), I just had one of those “moments”. You know, those moments where your mouth drops open and all you can say is “wow”.
It was beyond gorgeous and might even be my favorite waterfall on the island. Along the sides were several grotto and the pool seemed deep enough to swim in.

No swimming for me though. I didn’t bring a change of clothes and I did not want to freeze on my way back home….again. ^^;
Rock Climbing to Second Falls
After enjoying the first waterfall, I went on to the second.
To reach the second waterfall, there are some ropes and some easy rock climbing involved. Nothing too dangerous though…
Top of first waterfall, looking down
At the top of the first waterfall, I couldn’t resist looking over the edge….
That’s quite a drop! Would be instant death if you fell from that height. ^^;
Stream to 2nd waterfall
The stream to the second waterfall was short but quite scenic. Glad this shot came out well. (:
Wai'oma'o Second Falls
Suddenly, the second waterfall came into view.
It was about the same size as the first one but had a different feel.
This was pretty much the ultimate meditation spot. The area was covered in stacked rocks and several of the grotto were filled with wrapped rocks or “Indiana Jones” rocks. ^^;
It was something else….
For a while, I took a bit of time to recover at the second falls. Starting at the second falls, that is when it gets serious and more difficult. I needed to make sure I at least ate something. ^^;
Danger Part
This is probably the most dangerous part of the trail. ^^;
The path to get above the second waterfall is extremely narrow and slippery and to the left is a death drop all the way to the bottom of the waterfall. Tread carefully here….
Top of Second Waterfall
Another “top of the waterfall” shot.
Looking down made me feel a bit dizzy. ^^;
Tomb Stone
Near the top of the second falls is a grave stone. Someone died at the second falls?
Wai'oma'o Third Falls
Almost immediately, I made it to the third waterfall. This is where the trail gets so fun! (:
You literally hike up this waterfall all the way to the top. There’s ropes to help you and plenty of foot grips so it’s not all that dangerous….
Waterfall on Third Fall
Even though I called it the “third waterfall”, it’s really a series of waterfalls. I counted at least six or seven. (:
Scenic Waterfall on Third Waterfall
This was probably my favorite waterfall on the way up. My Nikon captured it so well! (:
Dual Waterfalls on Third Waterfall
Passing a pair of dual waterfalls near the top….
Hiking Waterfall, Nearing Top
Towards the top, you have to cross over to the other side of the waterfall to proceed. The water level wasn’t too high though so this was rather easy.
View of Honolulu
I did it! I made it to the very top of the third waterfall….by myself. ^^;
I read that this was a challenging hike so I felt like I accomplished something at the end.
Ka'au Crater
The trail actually goes around the entire Ka’au Crater rim but I ran out of time. I still had to take a shower and go to the airport but I had a great time. Ka’au Crater is probably my favorite trail on the island. Actually, it is. The only bad thing about this trail is that every other trail I go on will not be able to match this one (or even come close).

Well, I hope you enjoyed my little waterfall hike to Ka’au Crater. Till next time.

3 comments on “Ka’au Crater

  1. Glenn says:

    Beautiful…Thanks for posting

  2. sn0wm0nster says:

    Do you know what type of trees those are in the forest towards the beginning on the right of the stream, there tall green and bushy? You can see them on your 2nd last pic of the valley. Just curious…

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