Waimea Canyon was once dubbed by Mark Twain to be the “Grand Canyon of the South Pacific.” Located on the island of Kauai the canyon has easily a spectacular landmark of incomparable grandeur. Measuring 10 miles long and 1 mile wide with a depth of more than 3,500 feet, the canyon is the largest in the Pacific. A rare and spectacular sight, the canyon was created thousands of years ago by rivers flowing from the summit of Mount Waialeale. Throughout the years there have been numerous volcanic eruptions, leaving lava to flow over the canyon walls, carving out ridges that remain today. The canyon is located within the bounds of Koke’e State Park, taking in more than 4,300 acres and including 45 miles of hiking trails.
Visitors to the island can enjoy the incredible view from numerous lookouts posted along the canyon as well as hike various trails meandering over 45 miles around and through the canyon. Once on the floor of the canyon, travelers will enjoy calming breezes, with temperatures that are often 10-15 degrees cooler than anywhere else on the island. For those interested in capturing some of the most spectacular views in the world, there are terrific photo opportunities almost everywhere you look. Be sure to visit in the morning; however, if at all possible. Early morning views provide better visibility and therefore far better photographs. Beginning at around the noon hours clouds begin to move into the area, practically shrouding lookouts.
Although the canyon is accessible via State Road 550, by far the best way to see the wonders of Waimea Canyon is a dramatic helicopter ride. Only from the vantage point of the Kauai helicopter tours can one gain an appreciation of the true magnitude of the canyon. Flying high above the rim of the canyon, along a mantle of gossamer clouds, you will delight in the veritable rainbow of chasm struts presented in a prism of reds, purples, greens and blues. Gazing at the various rock layers, each one representing a separate volcanic incidence from the past of the island, visitors gain an appreciation for the history of the canyon, dating back millions of years. The views offered through Kauai helicopter tours will provide memories you will never forget.
Descending onto the floor of the canyon, there is a variety of sights, wonders and activities. The Kokee Natural History Museum, located at an amazing 4,000 feet, offers displays of the many lush vegetation found on the mountain as well as numerous animals. Directly behind the museum, visitors can access a nature trail that will allow them view the 35 marked plants for themselves.
Birdwatchers will surely delight in the variety of birds available for sighting in Waimea Canyon. Just a few of the birds you’re likely to see include the yellow-green anianiau, the Nene-state bird, white-tailed tropic bird, red apapane and other jungle fowl. Keep an eye out and you’re likely to also see a few mountain goats during your visit to the canyon.
Lookouts are located just about everywhere you turn, providing plenty of opportunities for fantastic photographs. Some provide absolutely incredible sights, well worthy of any professional postcard. These include the Waimea Canyon Overlook located at mile 10, so be sure to keep an eye out for it.
After hiking the trails and investigating the numerous lush plants and colorful birdlife, you will surely have worked up an appetite. Be sure to stop by the Kokee Lodge, located conveniently next door to the Kokee Natural History Museum, for a hearty meal. The Lodge serves both breakfast and lunch while also providing a warm hearth, a welcome respite on cooler days.
When planning your Kauai helicopter tours, be sure to wear layered clothing in order to keep warm, because temperatures can be rather cool. In addition, it’s also a good idea to wear comfortable footwear, especially if you plan to hike the trails once descending onto the canyon floor. Rain gear is also a necessary must, as the island is frequented with rain showers. In order to take full advantage of the fabulous views, be sure to bring along a pair of binoculars and don’t forget your camera. For those adventurous souls who want to splash in the river, be sure to bring along an extra set of clothing.
A visit to Kauai would not be complete without viewing the spectacular natural wonder of Waimea Canyon. With 5 million years in the making, this is one sight you won’t soon forget. Combine your visit with Kauai helicopter tours and you’ll bring home memories that will stay with you the rest of your life.