I was recently on Kauai for a family vacation and got to play tourist for a few days. I had to take my family to Waimea Canyon since some of them had never been there before. If you’re visiting the island of Kauai, Waimea Canyon on the west side of the island is a must see.
Waimea Canyon, also known as The Grand Canyon of the Pacific, is a large canyon, approximately ten miles (16 km) long and up to 3,000 feet (900 m) deep. Waimea Canyon State Park encompasses 1,866 acres (7.5 km²) and is a popular tourist attraction on the island. The spectacular views are worth the long drive up.
Waimea Canyon can be accessed from Waimea on Hawaii state road 550 and leads up to Koke’e State Park where you can find a wilderness area with camping and numerous hiking trails. The way up to Koke’e State Park is a windy paved road approximately 15 miles long.
If you don’t want to go to the end of the road to Koke’e State Park, you can stop at the lower lookout called Waimea Canyon State Park which is about 11 miles up and takes about one hour. This is the most popular lookout point and offers a safe viewing point of the canyon. You can even see waterfalls, ocean views, and take great family photos. At this lookout area you will find a small parking lot, restrooms, and snack vendors with fresh fruits and drinks.
If you plan to make the trip up to Waimea Canyon allow about half a day for the drive up, enjoying the views, and even spending time in the nearby sleepy towns like Hanapepe for breakfast or lunch. The road and lookout can be crowded on weekends, so plan accordingly.