Kōloa Gulch is an 8 mile round trip hike if you are only attempting one waterfall and about 9 miles if you are attempting both. Parking for this hike is at Kokololio Beach Park, but the actual hike begins at the end of Aakahi Gulch Road where you will see a sign for the trail.
The first part of the hike begins through some very tall grass and then ascends up a ridge for about 20 minutes depending on your pace. This part is a little deceiving and may seem longer than I describe. The important thing is to keep an eye out for a small split in the trail where the Kōloa Gulch trail will descend the ridge on the right side. This trail should be marked with ribbons, and once you've found this it will take you down to the stream to begin working your way toward the waterfalls.
Use extreme caution here, and if it has been raining recently or it appears to be flash flooding use good judgement and try another day. On an average day there may not even be water flowing when you first meet the stream, but that doesn’t mean it's not flowing upstream at the waterfalls. From this point follow the ribbons, and if you are ever in doubt follow the stream until you find the next ribbon. There will be many stream crossings, but for the most part as the gulch closes in you shouldn’t get too lost. You will follow this trail until you reach a split in the stream, and from here you'll need to make a decision.
The main waterfall as seen this picture is on the right side, and the left side I will leave a surprise. I recommend doing both but keep in mind the left side is a little longer which will make it add up to about 9 miles if you do choose to do both. Once at the split there is no more trail to follow on either fork. From here it is boulder hopping your way all the way to the falls. The right fork requires swimming through a small pool just before the final falls and climbing a smaller waterfall to reach the big one. Here I recommend some sort of waterproof bag for your valuables. The left fork also requires climbing a smaller waterfall, but this one may be a little more sketchy as you will need to navigate very carefully up the left side which can be very slippery. Going back is the same as hiking in. The most important thing is not to miss the trail taking you out of the gulch and back to the ridge, but other than that it should be fairly straight forward.
Something to always keep in mind about this gulch and any gulch is that they are known to flash flood. If it ever starts to rain on you at any point listen to this advice and TURN AROUND! I have personally seen the worst possible outcome to a close friend of mine, and believe me you do not want to be the next news headline. Other than flash floods use caution when traversing rocks in the stream as they are not always stable and sometimes they can be very slippery. Lastly, in a gulch there is nowhere to go. This is true with rising water, and falling rocks. While there isn’t much you can do about falling rocks, just keep it in the back of your mind to not spend too much time in the gulch. Rocks fall all of the time. I’ve seen it happen just a couple of feet away from me. If you want to read more about what the worst possible outcome could be I will attach the link to the 1999 Sacred Falls tragedy, and you can get a sense of how a good day can go bad in an instant. Even though this has never happened in Koloa it can here and any gulch at any time.
All hikes in Hawai'i are extremely dangerous and require caution when attempting. Hawai'i is known for hot humid weather, steep dramatic cliffs, and flash floods which can occur at anytime. It is important that you check the local weather, and understand the physical condition of your entire group before attempting any hike. All being said, this blog is for information purposes only and I ACCEPT NO RESPONSIBILITY FOR ANY INJURY, LOST INDIVIDUALS, OR LEGAL TROUBLE ENCOUNTERED WHILE FOLLOWING THE INFORMATION POSTED HERE.