Grab your camera! You won't want to miss an opportunity to photograph Waimea Canyon in Kauai and all of its amazing colors. Known as "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific", many visitors believe that it's even more beautiful than the original Grand Canyon.
This canyon is an impressive 10-miles long and 1-mile wide and descends nearly 3,500 feet to the bottom. It has existed for thousands of years, carved out by the rivers that flow from high up on Mount Waialeale's summit. Take a close look at Waimea Canyon. Kauai visitors can see the lines in the canyon's walls caused by numerous volcanic eruptions and the ensuing lava flows that have occurred over dozens of centuries. It's amazing!
Ensconced inside the magnificent Koke'e State Park, the canyon stands amidst more than 4,000 acres of breathtaking scenery. Both the park and the canyon are a hiker's paradise, with 45 miles of trails to help you explore all that Waimea has to offer. While it's possible to drive around the canyon on this most scenic road in the Hawaiian Islands, those willing to walk a little will appreciate the incredible views and the chance to appreciate local flora and fauna up close.
Allow at least a half day for this marvelous trip but, chances are, you may need a little more time than that when you realize all there is to see at Waimea Canyon in Kauai. Remember that as you travel the picturesque Waimea Canyon Road, there are no gas stations, so be sure to fill your tank before entering the road.
As you drive through this rainbow of colors and head towards the summit, there are a number of places to enter the canyon. Travel guides suggest that perhaps your first stop might be an area of Waimea Canyon State Park between mile markers 8 and 9. It has a lovely picnic area and a quarter-mile easily-navigated nature trail that provides a good introduction to the canyon. Catch the view at the scenic overlook at mile markers 10 and 13.
At 4,000 feet, you'll find the Koke'e Natural History Museum, where you can locate information about the area's plant life as well as pick up maps for hiking and additional information on the park's seasonal activities. You'll discover a great little nature trail behind the museum, suitable for guests of all ages.
Longer hikes can be attempted on your own but many local companies offer guided hiking trips along some of the more difficult trails. Such hiking packages on the trails of Waimea Canyon in Kauai often include lunch at a picturesque location, bottled water or juices, and a day-pack. Go to www.trails.com for a description of each of the area trails.
If it's chilly, make a stop at Koke'e Lodge, located near the museum and serving up not only warm food and drinks but a welcoming fire as well.
Aside from warm clothes, comfortable walking shoes, and possibly rain gear, your camera and binoculars will be the most important items on your trip through the Waimea Canyon of Kauai. You just won't believe your eyes! You'll see purples, blues, greens, reds, yellows, and oranges, all forming a rainbow of colors that can best be appreciated by the camera lens. Be sure to bring lots of film or extra memory cards because your shutter finger will be working continuously!
Binoculars can help you spot such unusual birds as the nene, the red apapane, the yellow-green anianiau, or the white-tailed tropic bird. You can also take a closer look at the native koa and other tropical plants.
A handful of travelers each year choose the canyon as a place for their Kauai wedding. Some travel to the summit or a scenic overlook in their wedding finery while avid hikers tie the knot in their hiking boots with only the canyon's breathtaking scenery as their witness. Imagine the wedding photos!
Whether you're a hiker, a bride, or just a lover of nature and beauty, the Waimea Canyon of Kauai should be at the top of your must-see list on your vacation to this most magnificent and awe-inspiring Hawaiian island.
For driving directions and useful information about hiking the
Read a visitor's account of her trip to Waimea