On the morning of our trip to Waimea Canyon, we woke up prepared. We had learned our lesson in Oahu and this time, we were stocking up on granola bars and wearing sneakers and staying hydrated and showing this island who’s boss!
Let me tell you what: we totally owned that canyon.
Outside of our own personal responsibilities, there were a few other factors we had to consider before embarking on our quest to visit Mark Twain’s “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.”
Number one way we just took this little daytrip and showed it who’s boss? Sneak attack. We woke up BRIGHT and EARLY. This is something I only do whilst traveling, but I do it well. We were told to get there by 10 AM and be finished with the whole shebang by noon, and you know what? We were there by 9:57 and done by 11:30. BOOM.
Suck it, canyon.
No, but like, seriously—get there early. Less people, less cloud coverage, more all around fun.
We were told repeatedly that if the weather is crappy, it’s not worth the drive. The issue with this advice? Weather on Kauai—like on most islands—can change in fifteen minutes or less. Luckily, we woke up to a big yellow ball of sunshine, but the real point here: be flexible with when you plan to see the canyon. I’d schedule it for the beginning of the trip, and leave room to move your visit back a few days if the weather is being a little bitch.
Ok, so. Everyone told us to drive all the way to the very, very end of “the road.” When they say this, they mean Kokee Road, but Kauai doesn’t really do street signs? So, you know. Just follow “the road.” Anyway, drive all the way to the end, hike around, and then hit the Waimea lookout on the way back. The weather can change in an instant, you don’t want to miss views of the Na Pali Coast, blah de blah de blahhhh.
OMG LOL, we totes didn’t do that.
I’m sure that’s wonderful advice and exactly how you should do things, but we also just got really excited by all the signs. Sorry, Waimea. We didn’t mean to do you a disservice.
They tell you this because at the end of the trail, you can hike along the Na Pali Coast a bit. Later, when we went rafting up the Na Pali Coast, we learned that this is where clouds can really come in and literally rain on your parade—weather there changes faster than anywhere else on the island, it would seem. Somehow, everything worked out for us even though we broke all the rules.
(Don’t worry, we were eventually caught in a monster rainstorm in Fiji in the middle of the Pacific while transferring between islands in a (broken) aluminum rowboat. The weather gods brought our big egos back down to where they belong.)
But Waimea? WE OWN YOU.
Yeeeahhh, so. I get really cranky if I don’t eat every, say, two hours or so? So we had granola bars and we ate breakfast (more granola bars) (we’re on a budget) (this trip is making me so skinny), but this can only get a girl so far.
We got out of our car after breaking the NO LOOK OUT rules, and started the hike. And it was so EASY!
It was like we were on the MOON! All bouncy and big and flat! … And then all of a sudden it was very, very narrow and very, very steep and why is it so hot? And when is the last time I ate? Omg, I haven’t eaten in DAYS! I don’t know when my last meal WAS!
Basically, we reached the coast, I smiled for this photo:
And then we had to make a mad dash for food immediately. This hike was hard!
So, Waimea? Worth it. We saw tons of tour buses in all the parking lots along the way, but I’d honestly recommend driving so you can do everything at your own pace (i.e. BREAK ALL THE RULES).
As for the whole “Grand Canyon of Pacific” thing, this I can’t confirm. Has anyone else been to both who can speak to the comparison? Based on photos, I understand, but based on dimensions, it sounds like a stretch. Waimea clocks in at only 10 miles long and 3,000 feet deep…. while the Grand Canyon is 277 miles long and 5200 feet deep. I feel like there’s an obvious winner here, but I’ll have to make it out to Arizona someday to see it for myself.
For now, I’ll just consider Waimea to be my own version of canyon training wheels.