Waimea Canyon – The Grand Canyon of the Pacific

View to the south from the largest Waimea Canyon lookout point

Kauai, HI

A short drive west from the town of Hanapepe, at the town of Waimea on Highway 50, there is a turnoff. Take that right turn to begin a magical 40-mile (64 km) drive leading to the Pu’u Kila Lookout. Along the way you will pass several scenic points where you can stop and photograph some spectacular views of the largest canyon in the Pacific region. I submit for your entertainment, my first blog post of 2014. I am looking forward to another year of travels and photos to share with you on a weekly basis.

Clouds cover much of the canyon in the afternoon

Over the centuries, at the summit of Mount Waialeale, one of the wettest spots on earth, the prolific rains have carved a canyon that is 3500 feet (1000 meters) deep, over a mile (1.6 km) wide and over 10 miles (16 km) long. If you are driving the scenic road, take your trip in the morning. You will likely have a more cloud-free vista than I did on our afternoon’s journey. Be sure not to miss the side trip along the Makaha Ridge Road. You’ll find it diverges from Waimea Canyon Road at mile marker 14.

Note the waterfall in the upper left far wall of the canyon

Hikers can explore the numerous trails in Koke’e State Park. Many of the trailheads begin at the scenic turnoffs of these two scenic drives. The park Ranger Station, co-located with the Koke’e Museum has hiking maps available. Unfortunately, our time of day did not allow for us to travel very far from the various lookout points, though the trailheads invited us to walk a short distance on or near a couple of the trails. Bring your camera on your hike. You’ll be glad you did.

Here’s a better view of that waterfall taken with my zoom lens set to 270 mm

At the end of the road, you will be rewarded with views of the Pacific Ocean from a viewpoint that lets you look north to a valley that leads to the sea, as well as viewpoints of the canyon to the south.

View to the north near the Pu’u Kila Lookout

As you travel up toward the Pu’u Kila Lookout, expect the temperature to drop 10-15 degrees F (9-12 degrees C). Also, be sure you have enough fuel in your vehicle to make the 80-mile (128 km) round trip. There are no gas stations or other businesses along the scenic drive.

Take a few photos that include some of the wide variety of unusual plant life in Hawaii

Don’t forget that macro setting on your camera for that photo of a blossoming flower

John Steiner

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10 thoughts on “Waimea Canyon – The Grand Canyon of the Pacific

    • I suspect it would have. By the way, I’m almost done reading your book. Been not much reading over the holidays. Looking forward to finishing it this week. I have been enjoying it very much.

  1. These are gorgeous pictures! I look forward to capturing some of my own this spring when we travel to Kauai! Thanks for the tips on the trip to the canyon!

  2. Very nice John…I’ve always wanted to go to Hawaii; I really appreciate the photo diary–gives me ideas of where I’d like to visit…would love to see more!

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