On the west side of Kauai, behold the Grand Canyon of the Pacific: Waimea Canyon.
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.
– US News
Roughly 10-14 miles long, a mile wide and 3,000 feet deep in some places the Waimea Canyon is breathtaking. There are lots of places along the lookouts or trails where you can look down into the canyon and see what appears to be a collision of different biospheres — greens, reds, blacks, browns, greys… It looks lush and arid all at once.
We could have gone to the canyon every day of the trip and I wouldn’t have complained. But, of the two visits we made, the second was especially nice as we stayed late enough for the perpetual rotation of helicopter tours to subside for the day and were rewarded at the end with a surprisingly amazing sunset.
A massive earthquake sent a number of streams into the single river that ultimately carved this picturesque canyon. Today, the Waimea River — a silver thread of water in the gorge that’s sometimes a trickle, often a torrent, but always there — keeps cutting the canyon deeper and wider, and nobody can say what the result will be 100 million years from now.
Majestic natural landscapes have a way of making people feel very small. Perhaps part of it is an innate understanding of the age of the space we’re in during those moments. To consider how long it took for the Waimea Canyon to become what we see today tests the bounds of my ability to deeply comprehend. How do you process the idea of 100 million years? With wildfires ravaging California we are learning, again, what just one year can do to the world we live in.
The Canyon can easily be admired from any of several lookout points without expending much energy. However, if you feel like moving your legs, there are lots of trails and hikes available that offer unique opportunities to explore waterfalls and take in the views from different vantage points. On the last night of our trip we went out for an early evening hike along the Canyon Trail to Waipoo Falls. Luke was the only one determined enough to make it all the way to the falls, headlamp on, hiking boots coated with mud. The reward at the end he said was worth it and, based on the photos he brought back, I must agree.
*all photos taken by Luke