Update: Significant edits have been made to this post. Please watch the video above for reasons why you should not do this hike. Mahalo.
Note: Sacred Falls Park and Sacred Falls trail has been closed since May 1999. The State of Hawaii has no plans to re-open the park. It is illegal to hike this trail and to do so would be cause for citation or arrest. There is also a risk of falling boulders, landslides, and drowning. As our disclaimer partially reads: “I’m not your daddy, these are dangerous as sh*t hikes, even the simple ones, if you got [insert applicable disorder, disease, or physical impairment] don’t even think about it yo.” Also, consider these tips on Hiking Safely In Hawaii. Mahalo.
Before the tragedy of 1999, Sacred Falls was one of the top tourist attractions for those visiting the island of Oahu. This all changed on Mother’s Day 1999, when eight people were killed and 50 more were injured from a massive landslide. At its height, the popular trail and waterfall received up to 55,000 visitors annually. Since 1999, the park and the waterfall trail has been closed to visitors and hopeful waterfall seekers. In 2003, the State of Hawaii reached an $8.56 million settlement with those injured and the families of the victims.
The potential physical dangers are not the only things that you should be worried about. Make no mistake, Sacred Falls is indeed sacred to the Hawaiian people. The falls, known to Hawaiians as Kaliuwa’a, means “leaking canoe.” And according to Greg Cleghorne, this place is filled with legend. Folklore says that the valley’s name is derived from the story of a mischievous demigod known as Kamapua’a. This demigod was able to take the shape of man and pig. Legend says that this demigod would often steal food from a local village. The village people became tired of the mischief and set out to hunt the demigod. The demigod then ran into the valley to create a double-hulled canoe to help with his escape. The demigod was only able to finish one-side of the canoe, leaving the other unfinished. The unfinished hull is what is now known as Sacred Falls.
Meanwhile, ghost hunters believe that the falls is the starting point for night marchers on the Koolauloa side of the island. And let’s not forget the many people that have died here. This is not a place that you want to be.