As if Kauai doesn’t have enough going for it, the island also boasts a canyon so spectacular that it’s known as “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Waimea Canyon, located in Waimea Canyon State Park, is the Pacific’s largest canyon at more than 10 miles long and up to a mile wide and 3,500 feet deep. The must-see canyon is located on Kauai’s western side, about 11 miles north of Kekaha on Koke’e Road (Highway 550). Like the best things in Kauai, admission is free. The main road, Waimea Canyon Drive, leads you to the main overlook and a second overlook (Pu’u Hinahina Lookout) farther up the road.
You will go through the town of Waimea to get there, a good place to stop before and after the drive to the canyon. After Waimea, the two-lane road is pretty desolate, and the scenery on the way to the canyon is unlike anything you’ll find elsewhere on the island. It’s drier on this side of the island and there are vistas that look like something from the Lord of the Rings movies. Once you get to the canyon you’ll be amazed how it really looks like the Grand Canyon in Arizona, but with greenery.
There are several trails in the Waimea Canyon area, including the popular Canyon Trail that takes hikers to the top of Waipo’o Falls.
Overall, it’s not surprising that Waimea Canyon is rated by many people as the number one tourist attraction on the entire island of Kauai.
Waimea Canyon is fairly close to the Poipu area but farther away from Kapaa and the Princeville/Hanalei areas. But wherever you’re staying on the island, a trip to the canyon is well worth it. (We often visit Waimea Canyon on Fridays to visit Hanapepe Art Night on the way back.)
The park is open during daylight hours.
Location at Google Maps
Waimea Canyon Photos
Below: Map showing the locations of Pu’u Hinahina and Pu’u Ka Pele Viewpoints. (Click on image for Google Maps)
Above and below: The drive to and from Waimea Canyon is steep and winding. Be careful!