Visiting Hawaii's Grand Canyon: Waimea Canyon on Kauai

Visiting Hawaii’s Grand Canyon: Waimea Canyon on Kauai

In Adventure, Places by Makana ChartersLeave a Comment

The Waimea Canyon, also known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is about ten miles long and 3,000 feet deep and is located on the western side of Kauai, in the Hawaiian Islands. The Hawaiian word Waimea means “reddish water,” referring to the canyon’s red soil erosion. This so-called grand canyon of Hawaii was formed by the extreme rainfall on Hawaii’s central peak, Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest places on Earth, which caused the Waimea River to cut deeply into the land.

Kauai is a famous Hawaiian Island because it offers a variety of things to do. Waimea Canyon State Park has many scenic viewpoints and hiking trails that you could easily stay all day just visiting. This article will walk you through some lookout points and the Waimea canyon trail.

Waimea Canyon Lookout Points

Several lookouts along the canyon rim offer amazing views throughout the hike. Check the list below to cross them off your bucket list.

Hohonu Awawa Lookout 

The first platform was built to overlook Waimea Canyon State Park. You will find this stop above the intersection of Route 550 and Kokee Road. The view of the canyon is spectacular from this point.

Waimea Canyon Lookout

The Waimea Canyon Lookout is the most convenient viewing area for people who do not want to hike across the trail. This viewpoint is located at marker ten. They have built a large viewing platform and offer a panoramic view of the landscape along the canyon’s edge. 

Puu Ka Pele Lookout

This small pullout offers an exciting perspective on Waimea Canyon through a narrow gorge near mile marker 13 on Highway 550. The lookout also provides the closest (though partially obstructed) view of Waipoo Falls from Highway 550. While you’re still a long way from the falls, it’s a beautiful photo opportunity. 

Puu Hinahina Lookout

There is a view of the canyon parallel to the rim of the canyon at mile marker 13. It is possible to observe the river winding through the rocks and entering the sea. The view includes a different aspect of the canyon and waterfalls. Furthermore, people consider it to be the best sight on the drive.

This lookout area can be your final stop for some great views from a different perspective. It can also be the start of the Canyon Hiking Trail.

Waimea Hiking Trails

Kukui Trail 

Enjoy this out-and-back hike near Wainiha, Kauai, which is 8.0 km long. It is generally regarded as a challenging route, taking an average of 3 h 44 min to complete. As a result, this trek is best suited to experienced hikers who plan to camp at the canyon’s bottom. If you plan on camping, you will need a permit.

On this trail, you will come to the bottom of the canyon, where you will find the river. Because of the red clay, it is steep and can become very slippery when wet.

Iliau Nature Loop Trail

Enjoy this 0.6-kilometer loop trail near Kekaha, Kauai. There are no obstacles on this route, so it takes an average of 10 minutes to complete. This hike is a short loop highlighting some of the area’s plant life and bird watching. Be sure to look for the Iliau Plant! You will be lucky if you see it in bloom.

Waimea Canyon River Trail

This 16.7-kilometer trail is located near Wainiha, Kauai. In general, it takes 7 hours and 0 minutes to complete this challenging route. The trail is steep within the first two miles, but once you reach the river, it becomes relatively flat. 

Enjoy a beautiful hike down from Kokoe Road into Waimea Canyon. The trail is perfect for sightseeing on the way into the canyon. Make sure to bring plenty of water, especially if you are visiting during the summer. Take note that if you plan on going camping, you need to secure a camping permit a few weeks in advance as they tend to go quickly during camping season.

Waimea Canyon Trail

Explore this 20.8-km trail near Wainiha, Kauai. The average time to complete this route is 7 h 42 minutes. 

Hiking down into the canyon is a great experience. Due to erosion, the trail is steep and washed out in many places, but it can still be navigated. There is a transition between clear terrain and dense woods along the path. The road continues down to the town of Waimea. In total, there are ten river crossings. There may be a need for trekking poles. Many frogs are present, as are several chickens and goats and birds and goats. On a lesser scale, it is like going into the Grand Canyon. The effort will be well worth it.

Frequently Asked Questions about Waimea Canyon State Park

How do I get to Waimea Canyon State Park?

Crossing the Waimea Canyon will take you around two hours if you take your time at each stop. You may complete the route in an hour if you travel through the canyon without stopping. 

Two highways converge at a commonplace on their way up to the canyon. The scenic route up is 552 Kokee Road from Kekaha, whereas the gentler route down is 500 Waimea Canyon Road from Waimea. Both routes should be used for distinct views in each direction. 

Is there an entrance fee for Waimea Canyon State Park?

There is no entrance fee for Waimea Canyon State Park (no permit required), but parking near popular viewpoints may cost a fee.

Because it is a popular tourist site, parking spots at lookout locations can fill up quickly. Arrive as early as possible, preferably before 9 a.m. 

How much time do you need to explore Waimea Canyon State Park? 

If you want to have the best exposure to the Waimea Canyon, it is ideal to allow one whole day. But if pressed for time, you can enjoy Waimea canyon’s beauty in just half a day.

How long is the longest trail in Waimea Canyon State Park? 

As a result, Waimea Canyon is the longest path in Waimea Canyon State Park. This trek is 20.8 kilometers long and takes an average of 7 hours and 42 minutes to hike.

When is the best time to visit Waimea Canyon?

Summer is the greatest time to visit Waimea Canyon since there is less humidity in the air and the landscape is less affected by clouds. You will not be able to appreciate the wet trail and poor sight once the colder months arrive. 

Even in the heat, try to get to the canyon early in the morning. There are very few people in the area, and the view is breathtaking. The skies often grow cloudy as early as 10:00 in the morning.

The Waimea Canyon is one of Mother Nature’s most magnificent creations. This canyon is truly a nature lover’s paradise, featuring lush greenery, tropical cliffs, picturesque waterfalls, and breathtaking rainbows.

After exploring Waimea Canyon trails, you may continue your adventure by driving North to visit Kokee State Park. You’ll have incredible views looking down on the Na Pali coastline if the weather’s good!

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