How to See Sacred Falls in O’ahu

How to See Sacred Falls in O’ahu

how to see sacred falls

Do lush valleys, sparkling swimming holes, and majestic waterfalls remind you of paradise? World famous Sacred Falls is a site of immense natural beauty. Hawaiian folklore tells of its creation by the mischievous demi-god, Kamapua‘a. This beautiful tranquil place is also home to the dangerous forces of mother nature and has been closed to the public since 1999.

Intrigued about how to see Sacred Falls without risking your life? A helicopter tour is the only way to safely view the stunning 1000-foot cascade.

The Mother’s Day Tragedy of 1999

mothers day tragedy of 1999
Image Source: http://archives.starbulletin.com/2002/09/25/news/story1.html

Sacred Falls is one of the most beautiful natural sites on O’ahu. The hikes and swimming hole were popular with tourists and locals up until 1999 when over 50 people were hurt and 9 killed in a tragic rock slide.  

On May 9th, 1999 – Mothers Day – many families were enjoying the swimming hole at the base of the falls. Suddenly, rocks, trees, and large boulders started raining down from the top, killing and harming the startled hikers below. Since this tragic incident, the park and hiking trail has been closed indefinitely to prevent further risk.

Expensive Citations Enforced

The ground is unstable, and rockfalls occur frequently and unpredictably, making it dangerous for hikers and rescue workers alike. Due to the depth of the valley, rescuers are unable to use helicopters to help extract hikers from the bottom who are in trouble. Rescue teams must go in on foot to find and rescue injured hikers, putting even more people in danger.

For the safety of everyone involved, it is illegal to enter the park. There are multiple “No Trespassing” signs on the locked gates and along the trail. The signs have QRC codes you can scan with smartphones to see a video highlighting the dangers. Therefore, there is no excuse for ignoring the multiple warnings! Unfortunately, some still take the risk.

Trespassers receive criminal citations and fines of $100 or more, plus potential administrative penalties starting at $2,500.

Will It Ever Reopen to the Public?

In 2018, KOHN2, a Hawaiian television station released an article addressing this very question. They asked state officials about the likelihood of Sacred Falls reopening anytime soon. In response, Curt Cottrell, the State Parks Administrator for the Department of Land and Natural Resources, said:

“[The chance of reopening is] Very very low. It’s a complicated metric in terms of looking at Kaluanui, which is the valley and Sacred Falls. There’s literally no safe place when you’re in the basin where the pool and waterfall is. So any rocks coming down, there’s nowhere to hide. There’s no way to prevent getting hit. So that plus the cultural concerns of the fact that Kaluanui is a very special place for our host culture.” 

So with foot traffic out of the question, is there a way how to see Sacred Falls during your trip to O’ahu?

How to See Sacred Falls Today

Getting an Aerial View With the Ko Olina Resort Helicopter Tour

The only way to see the impressive thousand-foot cascade of Sacred Falls now is by air! Not only can you see Sacred Falls safely from above, you also get a birds-eye view of the entire island on Tropical Helicopter’s Discount Ko Olina Resort Helicopter Tour.

Take in a unique view of Pearl Harbor, Downtown Honolulu and the iconic scenery of Diamond Head and Waikīkī. Beach enthusiasts can experience the beautiful white sand beaches of the Wai‘anae Coast, Sandy Beach or the epic surf spots on the North Shore all at once. It’s the perfect way to explore the valleys, coastline and the surreal coral formations found at Kāne‘ohe Bay.

Don’t miss out on the beauty of the famous Sacred Falls! Book your Ko Olina Helicopter tour today and take in all the incredible sights of O’ahu too.


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