Scale Waimea CanyonKaua‘i
Often called the “GRAND CANYON OF THE PACIFIC,” Waimea Canyon is a geological wonder located along Highway 550 en route to KOKE‘E STATE PARK. Approximately 10 miles long and 3,000 feet deep, the canyon is only a fraction of the size of its Arizona namesake, but its location—carved into the lush landscape of a tropical island— is unique. Formed by a deep incision left by the WAIMEA RIVER and extreme rainfall runoff from the island’s central peak, MOUNT WAI‘ALE‘ALE (one of the wettest places on Earth), WAIMEA CANYON is an awe-inspiring marvel.
The canyon’s walls take on ever-changing hues as the sun makes its daily journey across the sky. From a lookout along the rim of the canyon, sunrise is a stunning meditation with nature.
Hiking trails snake through the canyon, some more demanding than others. Trail information is available at the KOKE‘E NATURAL HISTORY MUSEUM or the Ranger’s Station in the park. The trail to the 800-foot WAIPO‘O FALLS is the most popular. The half-day hike offers glimpses of exotic rainforest vegetation. Pack a picnic lunch to enjoy on the warm, flat rocks of a ginger pool.
Tent camping and 12 reasonably priced cabins are available in KOKE‘E STATE PARK. For more information about cabins, call the Koke‘e Lodge at (808) 335-6061. In addition, breakfast, lunch and a cocktail lounge are available at the lodge, which is open from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Groceries and gas are not available in the park.
WARNING: Kaua‘i, the oldest of the Hawaiian Islands, is made of brittle volcanic rock, so never attempt to climb steep cliffs. Every year, people are stranded in the wilderness, and fatalities have been recorded. If you become lost at night, stay put and try to light a fire. Be mindful of flash floods; small creeks can turn into raging torrents with upland rains, so never camp in a dry creek bed.