Known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea Canyon is located on the western side of the island of Kauai in Hawaii. Waimea in Hawaiian means “reddish water”, referring to the canyon’s red soil. The canyon is ten miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep.
If driving through the town of Waimea, take Waimea Canyon Road (550). If starting from the Kekaha town, take Kokee Road (55). As you enter Waimea Canyon, the roads can get a bit winding, so don’t forget to make stops!
Waimea Canyon Lookout (Mile Marker 10)
Here you can see the effects of millions of years of erosion and the giant masterpiece of artwork it creates. Mesmerizing!
Pu’uka Pele Lookout (Mile Marker 12)
If you are not planning on hiking the Cliff Trail, you can see the 800 feet high Waipio Falls from this lookout in Waimea Canyon.
Pu’u Hinahina Lookout (Mile Marker 13)
The sheer depth and length of Waimea Canyon can be seen from this viewpoint. At some angles, you can see all the way to the Pacific Ocean.
Kokee State Park Museum
Hiking options in Waimea Canyon include the Cliff Trail to Waipoo Falls, Iliau Nature Loop Trail, Kukui Trail and Canyon Trail. (We didn’t hike due to being short on time). There are bathrooms available.
If you drive for more 4 more miles, you will come across the Pu’u O Kila and Kalalau Lookouts.
Pu’u O Kila Lookout
You have great views of Waimea Valley’s lush tropical forest. This is also where the Pihea Trail starts, which takes you through the Alakai Swamp and up to Kilohana Overlook.
If you walk a little ahead, you will come across areas of bare boulder and see green swamps in the distance. That is Mount Wai’ale’ale, Kauai’s central peak. The Waimea Canyon was formed through erosion by the Waimea River, which originates from Mount Wai’ale’ale, one of the wettest places on earth, receiving an average of 452 inches of rain annually.
Past the wispy stands of cloud, you can catch a brilliant view of the Na Pali coast on a clear day. The Kalalau Lookout is a great way to conclude your trip of the Waimea Canyon.