I think this is a must-see if you are on the Kauai. I’ve been told that the best way to get there is to take Waimea Canyon Drive in Waimea. That is what we did. It’s helpful if you have a GPS or good guidebook because that road is only marked by a small street sign. It would be easy to miss the turn off. As you ascend a scenic and tortuous drive towards the canyon, you will pass several pull-outs that have scenic overlooks. I’d encourage you to visit all or most of these, because they each have their own scenic perspective.
The main viewing point is Waimea Canyon Lookout, and the view there is spectacular. It has a parking area and restrooms. We saw several “mountain goats” there. However the ones we saw did not appear to be Mountain Goats like you’d find in the American West. They appeared to be domestic goats that were now feral. There are a couple other lookouts as well. I did not think the signage was as good as it could be in the area. Once we got to the higher remote areas, we could not get a cell signal in many areas, rendering the GPS in our phone pretty useless (it can’t download the maps). Again, having a map or a good guidebook, such as “The Ultimate Kauai Guidebook” or “Kauai TrailBlazer” is helpful.
Weather will determine the quality of the view. If the upper elevations are shrouded by clouds views may be obscured. Stating the obvious but a clear day is preferred. We had a pretty good view at Waimea Lookout with some clouds blocking us. At the Pu’u Ka Pele Lookout it was a complete whiteout, and we saw nothing.
I’m from Arizona and wanted to see the “Grand Canyon of Hawaii.” OK, sorry, but it pales in comparison to the real Grand Canyon, not even a close second. However it’s still an incredibly beautiful area and was one of the highlights of our trip. If I return to Kauai, I definitely visit this area again.
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