Often referred to as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon, which can be found on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, measures an impressive 3500 feet deep, and stretches out for over 14 miles. With beautifully scenic views of everything from deep valley gorges to crested buttes, as well as inland vistas that extend for miles, this is an area of the island that is definitely worth touring.
Hiking Around Waimea Canyon
Taking one of the many hiking trails that criss-cross their way around Waimea Canyon is a great way to explore the area, as these will provide views that cannot be had from the road. The easiest trail is the Cliff Trail, which leads to an overlook of the canyon, and takes about an hour round-trip, complete with feral goats providing entertainment along the way. From the Cliff Trail, those who are feeling adventurous can veer off onto the Canyon Trail, which passes through the gorgeous Waipoo Falls. Other trails worth trying out are the Iliau Nature Loop, which is just a quarter of a mile and consists of placards that point out the various natural features along the way, the Kukui Trail, which is a difficult, steep hike that takes you right into the bottom of Waimea Canyon, and the Waimea Canyon Trail, which begins at the bottom of the canyon and then takes you to the coastal Waimea Town.
Pu’u O Kila Lookout
For those who are not able to venture too far away from their vehicles, there are still some extraordinary views to be had from the road. One of the best places to head to is the Pu’u O Kila Lookout, which can be found at the end of Highway 550, and offers stunning views of the Kalalau Valley and its many peaks. Along the way, you will pass by the Koke’e Natural History Museum, which is definitely worth stopping off at if you would like to learn more about the history of the area, or even just have a bite to eat for lunch.
Accommodation at Waimea Canyon
There is so much to see around Waimea Canyon that many visitors tend to want to spend the night. If this is the case for you, there are a couple of options available, with the easiest being one of the many campsites that are dotted around the area. Alternatively, for those who would prefer a higher level of luxury, the Waimea Plantation Cottages are worth checking out, as these quaint cottages, which used to be plantation homes from when the island was primarily a sugar cane farming region, have now been transformed into unique oceanfront cottages.
Waimea Canyon is a geological wonder that you cannot experience anywhere else in Hawaii, making it no surprise that this is usually at the top of the to-do list for first time visitors. Whether you choose to hike it or drive it, this is a stunning natural wonder that will no doubt really impress you, so be sure not to forget your camera.