Waimea Canyon on the Hawaiian island of Kauai is often called “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” I do not really agree with the comparison but if it helps get visitors to this amazing place than I am OK with the description.
Located on the west side of the Island it is an easy drive from the popular resorts in Poipu. It is a longer drive from the north side of the island but it is still worth the effort.
The curvy road up to the canyon would be a lot of fun to drive in a convertible sports car but since we had six people we were styling in the family-friendly minivan. The 14 mile road starts at the ocean and winds its way up through the canyon. There are a number of scenic overlooks along the road to stop to view the canyon. If the weather is clear I recommend stopping on the way up because it might be raining on the way back down.
At the end of the road is the Kokee State Park. The park is surrounded by forest and there are numerous hiking trails. There are a museum, restaurant and rental cabins located at the park. I suggest buying food before before starting the drive up the canyon if you plan on being up there all day.
On the day that we visited the park the annual Emalani Festival was happening. The festival commemorates the journey of Queen Emma to this area in 1871. We did not spend a lot of time at the festival but we did get to see some musical performances, hula dancing and the entrance of “Queen Emma” on her horse.
Beyond Kokee State Park is a road leading to a scenic lookout at the top of the canyon. I wish I could tell you how the view was from the top but it was raining when we got there and the canyon was not visible.
We spent around three hours visiting the canyon. If you plan to do some hiking plan for more time than that. I would also recommend getting there earlier in the day because it tends to rain in the afternoon.
- Location – Kauai Hawaii
- Visit in the morning because it often rains in the afternoon.
- Make sure you have a full gas tank and bring food and snacks with you.
- Visit the Kokee State Park Website for more information.