Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park

#1 in Best Things To Do in Kauai
Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park picture
Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park
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Key Info

Koke'e Road

Price & Hours

Free
24/7 daily

Details

Hiking, Natural Wonders, Parks and Gardens, Free Type
2 hours to Half Day Time to Spend
4.7scorecard
  • 5.0Value
  • 3.5Facilities
  • 4.5Atmosphere

Waimea Canyon, aptly nicknamed the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," should be at the top of every traveler's itinerary. This 14-mile-long, mile-wide and approximately 3,600-feet deep gorge is awash with spectacular scenery difficult to find elsewhere on the Hawaiian islands. Here, you'll find craggy red cliffsides and crested buttes blanketed in lush, evergreen vegetation as far as the eye can see, with waterfalls and rivers dotted in between. Most travelers who visit Waimea Canyon choose to take in the sight by car, as there are multiple lookout points situated along Koke'e Road, including the popular Waimea Canyon and Puu Hinahina lookout points. If you're hoping to explore outside your car, there are trails in the canyon that range from easy to difficult. Many trailheads can be found off of Koke'e Road, with some, including the Cliff Trail Lookout and the Waipo'o Falls Trail, accessible from the Pu'u Hinahina lookout point. 

While at Waimea Canyon, be sure to pop over to the equally stunning Koke'e State Park. What makes Koke'e Park so interesting is that despite being right next to Waimea Canyon, the park has a completely different makeup. Koke'e Park occupies thousands of acres of rainforest, and as such produces a different microclimate (the farther you drive up Koke'e, the colder it gets). Like Waimea, travelers commonly explore the park via car, as the main road through Koke'e cuts through the park. While here, be sure to visit the Kalalau Lookout and the Pu'u O Kila Lookout for stunning views of the Napali Cliffs. If you want to get even closer, consider taking the Awa'awapuhi Trail, which takes hikers to the edge of some of Napali's famous cliffs. Another trail worth trekking is the Alakai Swamp Trail, which spends more time going through the park's rainforest. Wherever you decide to hike, whether it's in Waimea Canyon or Koke'e, bring proper hiking shoes to avoid falling from the slippery mud often found on Kauai trails. 

You can find Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park on the western side of Kauai. When planning your trip to Koke'e Park or Waimea Canyon, try to plan your trip for a clear day, otherwise, travelers say you will encounter limited visibility and miss out on the canyon's vibrant colors. Visit in the morning to enjoy the best views of the gorge and to beat the crowds. It's also important to drive carefully here; the roads to the parks have been described as narrow, windy and at times uneven by recent travelers. And unless you're camping in Koke'e State Park, admission is free; entrance to Waimea Canyon is also free. For more information about Koke'e State Park and Waimea Canyon, visit the Hawaii State Parks website

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