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Waimea Canyon: Hawaii's Natural Wonder and Grand Canyon of the Pacific
The Beautiful island of Kauai is home to one of Hawaii’s natural wonders, Waimea Canyon.
Thousands of years ago, Waimea Canyon was carved by running rivers and great floods that flowed down from Mount Waialeale’s summit; renowned as one of the wettest spots on earth (it receives an average of 466 inches of rain each year).
The visible lines on the canyon walls depict different volcanic eruptions and lava flows that occurred over the centuries.
Located on the Kauai’s west side, Waimea Canyon is majestically 10 miles long, 1 mile wide and approximately 4,000 feet at its deepest point.
The first look into the canyon is dramatic. The banners of colors are as far as the eye can see with its deep crags, buttes, and gorges that are painted with deep rich hues of roses, lavenders, celadons, and siennas.
Taking it All In
Waimea Canyon is protected by the Koke'e State Park which encompasses approximately 4,500 acres of land and has 45 miles of trails that run through the canyon and the nearby Alakai Swamp.
The canyon can be viewed from a number of lookouts along Waimea Canyon Drive.
There are three "official" lookout locations from which you can view the Canyon;
The official Waimea Canyon lookout (just past Mile Marker 10 on Highway 550), the Pu`u Ka Pele lookout (a smaller lookout near mile marker 13 on Hwy 550), and Puu Hinahina Lookout (between mile markers 13-14 on Hwy 550), which is believed to be the best of the three lookouts.
A beautiful scenic road winds into the mountains and ends in the lush forests of Kokee State Park. Once you reach the end, you will find hiking trails that are suitable for both the novice and the experienced hiker.
These trails will take you along the rim and down into the canyon. Be advised that the loss of elevation is about 2,000 feet in two and a half miles. Therefore, if you walk down, you’ll also have to walk up! However, if you prefer to get a “bird’s-eye view” of the canyon, you can take a helicopter tour from one of the many touring companies on the island.
A Waimea Canyon tour can include a trip to the canyon paired with other fascinating attractions like Opaekaa Falls, Hanapepe Lookout, and Spouting Horn where water spurts 50 feet in the air from the lava shelf.
You can also take Waimea Canyon Road all the way up to the top of Koke'e State Park where you will behold the beauty of the Napali Coast.
Waimea Canyon captures the breathtaking beauty of the pacific, and because of its grand span of beauty, color, and history, it was nicknamed the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” by Mark Twain.
Approximately 1.5 million visitors come to Kauai each year just to see this natural wonder. It is definitely a must see on your list when visiting Kauai.