In an early scene in Steven Spielberg’s blockbuster, Jurassic Park, two official jeeps filled with visiting scientists pull up to the imposing fire-lit gates of, well, Jurassic Park. As the gates swing open to let the visitors drive through (and Jeff Goldblum’s character deadpans, “What have they got in there? King Kong?”), we glimpse the base of a massive emerald-green mountain. Later, the canyon at the base of this mountain is revealed to be the T-Rex paddock where scientists — and the audience — will soon be terrorized by teeth the length of javelins. The rain at Jurassic Park is torrential and as unrelenting as the prehistoric beasts in search of human snacks. 

These scenes were shot at Mount Waialeale — considered the beating heart at the center of Kauai. Always ready for a Hollywood close-up, gorgeous Mount Waialeale has an impressive resume: It boasts the tallest peak on Kauai, creates the headwaters for many of the islands’ rivers, and is considered one of the wettest places on earth. 

According to the Weather Channel, the wettest city on the US mainland is Mobile, Alabama with an average annual rainfall of 67 inches. Los Angeles gets about 15 inches. Seattle gets 38, and New York City gets 45 inches of rain per year. What about Mount Waialeale, you ask? It receives more than 452 inches of rain per year! In fact, in 1982, it set a record of 683 inches. That’s a lotta rain!

Waialeale is one of the world’s wettest spots, according to the National Weather Service, the average rainfall it gets is 460 inches annually.

What makes it so wet?

Mount Waialeale, the wettest spot (meaning “rippling water” or “overflowing water” in Hawaiian) is found in Kauai’s interior and stands at 5,148 feet high. Its tallest point, the Kawaikini Peak, seems to reach right into the center of the clouds. Though it’s been dormant for many years, the mountain was once an active volcano so it has a volcanic shield that captures all the moisture brought in on the trade winds. Steep cliffs also act as a trap, sending moisture back into its midst, creating even wetter conditions.

An array of waterfalls like glittering silver threads cascade down hundreds of feet through the crevices of the mountain’s velvety-green face. You can see how this got its nickname “the Weeping Wall.” At 800 feet, Waipoo Falls is the tallest. Together, these waterfalls thunder straight into a gigantic freshwater pool below which rushes into streams that then feed Kauai’s rivers: Waimea, Hanapēpē, Makaweli and of course, the granddaddy of them all, Wailua. Kauai is the only island in Hawaii with navigable rivers, and at 20 miles, Wailua is its longest.

The base of Mount Waialeale, also known as the Blue Hole, is considered a once-in-a-lifetime hiking destination and is some of Kauai’s most sacred grounds. The lush, misty greenery, the waterfalls that plunge into a barrel-like cavern at the center, the headwaters and the undulating, brilliantly verdant canyons — all are a rare sight to behold. However, most folks are cautioned away from attempting this journey — at least without optimum fitness and an experienced guide to lead the way. Flash floods, unforgiving terrain, lots of boulder hopping and confounding pathways create a remarkably challenging experience. If you are up for it, research the area and find an expert local guide for the trip. And again, these are sacred grounds meant to be explored with reverence. At least you won’t have hungry dinosaurs to contend with. (Because that was just a movie . . . right?)

Preparing for a Hike on Mount Waialeale

The summit of Mount Waialeale is one of the most beautiful places on Earth. The views of the rainforest and the surrounding mountains are breathtaking. Mount Waialeale is a challenging and rewarding hike, but it is also one of the wettest places on Earth. Proper preparation is essential to make sure your hike is safe and enjoyable. Be prepared for wet and muddy conditions, and take plenty of water and food. The views from the summit are worth the effort.

What to wear

In preparation for a hike, you need to dress appropriately. In terms of clothing, start by avoiding cotton, which soaks up water and dries slowly due to its low fiber content. You should also avoid wearing anything made from polyester because it retains moisture and doesn’t dry as well as cotton. Instead, wear quick-drying fabrics that will keep you warm when wet such as wool or silk. In addition to choosing the right clothes.

What to bring

Because of its high elevation and tropical location, the weather on Mount Waialeale is unpredictable and can change rapidly. It’s important to be prepared for any type of weather when hiking this mountain. Here are some things you should bring with you when preparing for a hike on Mount Waialeale: 

A raincoat – It’s likely to rain at some point during your hike, so it’s important to have a raincoat with you.

A backpack – You’ll need to bring everything you need with you on the hike, so a backpack is essential.

Bug spray – The mosquitoes on Mount Waialeale are relentless, so make sure to bring bug spray with you.

Sunscreen – The sun is intense in Hawaii, so sunscreen is a must.

A hat – A hat will help protect you from the sun and rain.

Comfortable shoes – You’ll be doing a lot of walking on this hike, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes.

Food and water – Make sure to bring plenty of food and water with you, as you’ll need it on this hike.

How to hike the mountain

Hiking Mount Waialeale can be a dangerous and challenging experience, even for experienced hikers. It is important to prepare your body and mind before you set off on this arduous journey.  Make sure that you have the proper gear, including sturdy shoes, water and food, and a first-aid kit. It is also important to know the route you are taking and to be familiar with the potential hazards along the way.

The trail to the summit of Mount Waialeale is steep and can be slippery in wet weather. There are also sections that are very narrow, with a sheer drop-off on one side. Hikers should use caution when traversing these areas. There are also many areas of loose rock, so hikers need to be careful not to lose their footing.

The summit of Mount Waialeale is one of the most dangerous places on Earth. The wind can be incredibly strong and the temperature can drop dramatically, even in the middle of summer. Hikers should be prepared for extreme weather conditions and take all necessary precautions.

If you are brave enough to tackle this challenging hike, be sure to enjoy the spectacular views from the summit!

What to expect

If you’re planning to hike Mount Waialeale, be prepared for some of the most difficult terrains you’ll ever encounter. The wet and muddy conditions can make the hike very slippery, so you’ll need to be very careful when walking. You should also expect to get very wet, as the rainforest surrounding the summit is constantly dripping with moisture.

At the summit of Mount Waialeale, you can see some of the most amazing views in the world. The surrounding landscape is incredibly lush and green, and you can see for miles in every direction.

Tips for a successful hike

If you’re planning on hiking to the summit of Mount Waialeale, the wettest place on Earth, be sure to follow these tips to ensure a successful and safe hike. First, be sure to pack plenty of food and water, as well as extra clothes in case of bad weather. You’ll also want to make sure you have a good map and compass and know how to use them. It’s also important to start your hike early in the morning when the weather is more likely to be clear. And finally, be aware of the dangers involved in hiking at high altitudes, such as altitude sickness and exposure.

For more information on Mount Waialeale and so many other natural wonders on the Garden Isle, call Koloa Landing Resort and book a roaring good time in paradise today.

Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing Resort