Waimea Canyon – Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon is a spectacular wonder of nature that defies the size and scale of one’s imagination. Many compare this canyon to the Grand Canyon, but visually, the Waimea Canyon has it beat: it drops more than 3,000 feet with a width of only a mile. The Grand Canyon is a bigger 5,000 ft drop but covered in a 18 mile wide width. Waimea’s valleys go as far as the eye can see, but its ridges seem as if they are only an arm’s length away. I think that’s what makes this place special.


Waimea Canyon can be seen from many viewpoints, but the Waimea Canyon Lookout is the first and largest of the few. Located at the top of the mountain as a right fork on the road to Koke’e, you can make sure to stop here first before heading up the road to the other sights on the way. For the most part, Waimea Canyon is visible even in more rainy weather. If you are lucky to see it clearly, then realize that you are enjoying a view that some people can miss entirely due to cloud cover that can come in and out at times. The mid-morning has a good chance at it being clear. Using the rain forecast for Hanalei will give you a close indication of your probabilities.

Cell-phone service cuts out after heading up the road from Waimea Town,  but using the Maps.me app will guide you to the correct location. Also, make sure to pay the $5 recently-implemented parking fee at any of the designated lookouts, if you are a visitor.

My last note is that it is advisable to use the concrete lookout for safety reasons when viewing the canyon, but if you feel more adventurous, then head just to the left of the parking lot, past the signs that say don’t go any farther, you’ll be treated to an awesome view – and a much more humbling experience.

Waimea Canyon one of the first stops on a self-driven tour of the west-side of Kauai.

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