Waimea Canyon is ‘The Grand Canyon’ of Hawaii, located on the island of Kauai. We explored Waimea Canyon both by land and by helicopter, on two different days.
I’ll start with our road trip, as we did this first. We had originally planned to do the helicopter tour early in our stay, but Monday was a ‘rainy day’ and we had to reschedule it for Thursday. Steve’s Travel Tips: For any activity on Kauai (or anywhere for that matter) that you really ‘have’ to do, schedule it early in your stay in case of inclement weather or other issues that might cause a delay; i.e. road work, holiday closings, strikes, etc. Fortunately Monday was our only iffy weather day, and we were able to reschedule the helicopter on Thursday, our last full day in Kauai, which I’ll do a future post on.
We are staying at the Grand Hyatt, located on the beautiful and dryer side of this rainy island at Poipu Beach. Kauai, the fourth largest of the Hawaiian islands, is nicknamed the Garden Isle as it’s so green due to the heavy amounts of rain it receives each year. Compared to the populations of Oahu (1 million +) and Maui (165,00), Kauai has only approximately 70,000 residents, with Oahu and Maui far surpassing the number of island visitors as well. Parts of the island of Kauai are among the rainiest places on the planet, but Poipu Beach is not one of those areas. Unlike Oahu where public transportation is plentiful, It goes without saying that a car is a must for touring the islands of Maui and Kauai. We began our all day journey around 10 am, as we headed out towards Waimea Canyon. (Another tip for seeing Waimea Canyon is to leave earlier in the day rather than later due to the inclement weather, and cloudy conditions hindering viewing.) Guided by both are GPS, and the hotel-provided map we set off for the western side of the island, up thru the rugged Kauai terrain. As you can see from the map, there are very few roads on Kauai, mostly located around the coast, as the center of the island are mountains, canyons, and rainforest not accessible by road, although there are hiking trails for the more adventurous.
We took our time driving out to the Waimea Canyon lookout, driving thru small towns along the way. Compared to the north-eastern side of the island, the traffic was fairly light all the way, allowing for a leisurely stop-and-go drive for photos and sightseeing.
We made a couple sightseeing stops along the way, taking photos of the beautiful beaches along the way. We later found out the beaches were more or less empty due to the strong ocean currents along the coast, which made it dangerous for swimming.
Not wanting to swim, we meandered our way up the road to the Waimea Canyon Lookout, and were afforded some spectacular views along the way.
You could see the magnificent waterfall from miles away across the canyon. We would later fly by it close up in our helicopter ride.
Our selfie was a little off as we pointed to the waterfall a little further up the road!
So we tried it again, without pointing, but managed to get the waterfall centered behind us.
We also watched out for these Japanese tourists to make sure they didn’t get hit by a car while taking photos in the middle of the road, at this ‘unofficial’ lookout.
We ended up near the top of the trail, at the Kokee Lodge, were we had lunch. While a pretty rustic lodge located out in the middle of nowhere, we had a decent lunch on ‘Hawaiian Time’ (meaning slow) but with a view of the surrounding area and Kauai roosters. There is also the Kokee museum there, which we did not go into.
So this post concludes our Waimea Canyon day trip by car. Coming soon will be our Waimea by Helicopter trip, for which I still need to download the video. Mahalo for reading!