Game for some adventures in Okinawa? How about a hike to Hira Falls – a waterfall that turned out to be the most rugged and secluded waterfall we’ve ever been to.
Watch us navigate through the rarely-trodden path before we found our way to our “private” waterfall.
This post continues from Day 6 (Part 1) where we spent a wonderful morning snorkeling at Kouri Island. Read through it first for better story flow.
Done that? Okay, let us begin our difficult hike to Hira Falls. It’s gonna get rough and dirty! :)
Location of Hira Falls in Okinawa
Hira Falls is remotely-located in the eastern part of Nago City in Okinawa, away from where most tourist attractions and amenities are found. In other words, this waterfall is extremely out of the way.
We took a 50 minutes’ drive to get to Hira Falls from Kouri Island, and spent the last stretch of the journey driving through narrow and deserted roads. We hardly saw any passing vehicles.
TIP: You’ll need to rent a car to get to Hira Falls. In fact, driving is a highly-recommended way to explore Okinawa. You’ll get to see more things and incur lower transport costs (view latest car rental rates).
Alternatively, you can also book a Hip Hop Bus One-Day Tour. This will bring you to the more popular and touristy places (Hira Falls is not one of them).
Unlike other waterfalls we’ve been to, Hira falls doesn’t have an official carpark.
We parked our car on the flatten jungle floor, next to the road when we saw a big red dot on the railing. That served as a “carpark” marker. :)
Trail Entrance to Hira Falls in Okinawa
Next, let me show you Hira Falls’ trail entrance.
Ta-da!!! The trail entrance is at “6-red-dots-on-road-railing”. LOL!
This is how rugged Hira Falls is. There’s no official entrance. You’ll just climb in from the main road.
Here’s another perspective to show you the distance between the ‘carpark’ and the trail entrance. In between them is a real road, not carpark-road.
All thanks to Google Map Street view, we were able to mark down the exact entry point during our research. Yup, we’d driven through that road first using our desktop and mouse. :)
I’m not able to copy the location link of the trail entrance because it’s on an unnamed road. Here’s a screenshot – the gray location marker, 7 o’clock south of Hira Falls, marks the trail entrance.
No Toilets? Let’s Poop like Tarzan
What if you need to use the toilet before embarking on the hike? Erm…there were no shower facilities or toilets at Hira Falls.
Having just indulged in a sumptuous Sea Urchin lunch at Kouri Island, we badly needed to move our bowels and relieve our bladder. That was the first time I’d to do it on the jungle floor.
Yeah, I did my part in fertilizing the ground, at a spot a few metres from the road. Ha Ha!
Would I be seen by passing hikers? Well, actually I was more afraid of snakes or spiders biting my bum bum than getting seen by strangers (because this place was completely deserted).
Of course, we covered up our poop with leaves and soil. Nature better thank us for the nutritional meal we’d provided. :)
Navigating through Hira Falls: It’s a Challenging Hike!
Hira Falls is a challenging waterfall to get to because of the following reasons:
- There’s no obvious path or official direction markers
- You don’t get to walk on paved grounds (NOT AT ALL)
- You might get lost
- It’s full of wild insects and algae
- The trail is extremely slippery
- You need to mount over large rocks in the river
After climbing through the road railing, we made our way to the creek and trekked along it (downstream).
TIP: Remember to get WiFi access when travelling in Okinawa (or in Japan) as you’ll need it for navigation, logistics planning, live research and even voice/photo translation.
There were red markers sprayed onto trees to guide us to Hira Falls. However, these unofficial markers were not very prominent. You’ve got to keep your eyes peeled and look out for them to ensure that you’re on the right track.
TIP: Start the hike early. It’s not difficult to get lost in the dense and wild jungle. We almost did!
Don’t lose Sight of the Stream
The hike to Hira Falls requires you to trek in and out of shallow water. Sometimes, you’ll be in dense vegetation. Other times, you’ll either be in the stream or trekking along the rugged river cliff.
Whether trekking in the river or on land, please make sure you don’t lose sight of the stream.
TIP: Equipped yourself with a stick, such as a fallen branch as the path was full of spider webs. You may also need the stick in case you encounter snakes during the hike.
A Slippery & Dirty Hiking Session
At some point along the trail, you would turn left. After doing so, continue trekking through or along the river. This is also the time when the trail becomes more difficult.
Not only was the riverbed super-slippery, the path was also full of obstacles. Fallen trunks and huge rocks were some of the things that we’d to mount over in order to move forward.
Everything here was slippery. Even the rocks were covered with slimy algae. Can you visualize yourself walking on a floor smeared with butter? And climbing over rocks covered with liquid soap?
Do expect to slip and fall. I slipped a couple of times into the water that’s full of insects and decomposed vegetation.
Although I said this is a difficult hike, I’m referring more on the efforts needed to balance yourself all the time. I don’t think you’ll encounter anything life-threatening as the water is shallow. However, do watch out for snakes.
TIP: Make sure you wear proper footwear – something that grips well, doesn’t come off easily and is waterproof. I wore a pair of hiking sandals while my partner trekked in aqua shoes. You may also want to wear something that covers a lot of skin to prevent cuts or insect bites.
Hira Falls is not Kids-Friendly
There was one segment where we had to climb up vertically and trekked along the edge of the river cliff. As such, I don’t think this is a kids-friendly hike, unlike the one at Ta-Taki Falls.
Full focus and four-limbs coordination are required at Hira Falls. That’s the reason why limited photos were taken as our eyes and hands were kept busy all the time. It was especially draining for me because I didn’t sleep well the day before and needed extra efforts to stay alert.
TIP: If you are looking for kids-friendly destinations in Okinawa, check out the attractions covered under the Okinawa Main Island Pass. This is a super great value pass. Highly-recommended!
Hira Falls – Our Private Waterfall in Okinawa
After 30 minutes of hike, we heard the roaring-yet-soothing sound of water beckoning to us. At a Y-junction, we instinctively took the left fork as we were guided by the sound of water.
And finally, the 50m-tall Hira Falls was right before our eyes.
Although Hira Falls wasn’t as gorgeous as Ta-Taki Falls, it stood out as being the only “private” waterfall we’ve been to. There wasn’t a single soul – not at the waterfall, and not throughout the hike!
Having the waterfall all to ourselves, we swam, dipped and basically immersed ourselves in unspoiled nature.
The emerald water was clear and refreshing. My salted and sticky hair and body (all thanks to the earlier snorkeling session) were thoroughly cleansed after the dipping session.
One thing to note though, the water was freaking cold even during the hot summer months. Watch me scream in Mandarin, “It’s sooooo COLD!” (scroll right).
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The 30 mins trail to Hira Falls was done by wading through river. As it's not a flat trail, there's a need to climb over algae-covered rocks. I would say the most challenging part is the slipperyness of the entire trail. Its not uncommon to slip. Another challenge is to not get lost. . The reward? The waterfall was solely ours (swipe to see how I adapted to very cold water. ? ? "啊! 好冷啊!"). . . . #Waterfall #Hiking #okinawa #Japan #Traveladventures #NicoleCravesJapan #NicoleCravesOkinawa
Getting out of Hira Falls
Remember the Y-junction? Well, we almost took the wrong path when we headed out of the waterfall because there’s no real landmark to speak of in a jungle.
Also, we no longer had the pounding sound of water to guide us.
Do make a mental note of the path you came from and remember to watch out for the red markers.
Thereafter, it was another 30 minutes backtracking the same slippery path we came from. And this concludes our trip to Hira Falls.
Attraction Info: Hira Falls
- View Location
- Difficulty: 4/5
- Hike Duration: 30 minutes one-way
- Recommended total duration: 1.5 hours
Next, we are headed for the Mountain
After a snorkeling session and a strenuous waterfall hike, guess where we would be heading next? We’ll be climbing a mountain. :)
On our way to Mount Kasuudake, we passed by our accommodation in Okinawa and decided to get changed into proper shoes and to top up on our ration. Stay tuned to the next post where I’ll share our exhilarating hike to the top of Nago City. :)
- Day 1 (Pt 1) – How to rent a car in Okinawa (Plus Visit Itoman Fish Market)
- Day 1 (Pt 2) – Okinawa History Lessons at Himeyuri Peace Museum, Former Japanese Navy HQ, Tsuboya Pottery and Kokusai Dori Streets
- Day 2 (Pt 1) – Explored Southern Okinawa & Visited The Best Cape in Okinawa
- Day 2 (Pt 2) – Gushikawa Castle, Cape Kyan, Giza Banta Cliff, Odo Beach, American Village and more
- Day 3 (Pt 1) – Top Things to do in West Okinawa
- Day 3 (Pt 2) – How to Snorkel at Cape Maeda and Blue Cave without joining a tour?
- Day 4 – Self-drive from Naha to Nago (Okinawa Outlet Mall & Orion Beer Tour)
- Day 5 (Pt 1) – 4 Must-Visit Attractions in North Okinawa
- Day 5 (Pt 2) – River Trekking at Ta-Taki Falls & Best Dinner in Okinawa
- Day 6 (Pt 1) – Kouri Island | Our Best Snorkeling Experience in Okinawa
- Day 6 (Pt 2) – A Challenging Hike to Hira Falls
- Day 6 (Pt 3) – Frozen with fear hiking up Mount Katsuudake
- Day 7 (Pt 1) – JA Farmers Market & Bise Fukugi Tree Road
- Day 7 (Pt 2) – Don’t skip Okinawa Churaumi Aquarium and Ocean Expo Park
- Day 7 (Pt 3) – Looking for a Good Sushi Restaurant in Okinawa? Check out Hamazushi in Nago City
- 9 Days Okinawa Itinerary (Part 1)
- 9 Days Okinawa Itinerary (Part 2)