Image courtesy of Bryce Edwards
Waimea Canyon on the west side of Kauai was famously referred to as “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific” by Mark Twain. Though far smaller than Arizona’s Grand Canyon Waimea Canyon is a large, approximately ten miles long and up to 3,000 feet deep. And like the Grand Canyon it is a dramatic sight of water-carved ridges, many a deep brown-to-purple red and changing color as the angle of sunlight shifts. It is a favorite for photographers and hikers alike.
The canyon was formed by the Waimea River which cut a deep valley in the softer rock, powered by periodically fierce water flow due to the 450+ inches of annual rainfall on Kauai’s central peak, Mount Waiʻaleʻale. Wai’ale’ale is one of the wettest places on earth.
Waimea is a Hawaiian word meaning "reddish water", a familiar sight at the river mouth where this canyon meets the sea where the canyon's red soil carried down by Waimea River colors the ocean near the shore.
Waimea Canyon State Park offers a variety of views and terrains in its 1,866 acres and is a popular tourist attraction. There is an extensive wilderness area with numerous hiking trails, some a gentle walk and others more rugged but offering spectacular views.
How to get there: From Waimea take SR550 up the mountain for about 18 miles. There are some nice viewpoints with pull outs on the way up. Near the top you will enter Koke'e State Park. Check out the visitor’s center for maps and advice if you plan to do any hiking.