2018 Kauaʻi Trip Report Part 5: Waimea Canyon

To celebrate our 25th wedding anniversary, we took a trip to the Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi (read the previous parts here). Our adventures continue with a trip to a famed landmark…

Friday, July 6, 2018

I had set my alarm for 7:00 AM once again because I donʻt like to sleep too late when we are on a vacation like this one. There is so much to see and do, so we donʻt spend all of our time sleeping. Besides, on this one being five hours behind the time zone that we were normally in helped the morning hours not to seem quite so early.

We once again headed for the breakfast buffet at Ilima Terrace, except that this time we had the advantage of knowing where we were going. When we got there this time, we were slightly surprised to see that all of the waiting was downstairs in the main restaurant area, instead of having to wait at the main level first as we had done the day before. And we did not have to wait long at all on a table, either. Had we beaten the breakfast rush? Or was Friday a lighter day? We were slightly curious.

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Inside the outside lobby area of the Grand Hyatt Resort
Inside the outside lobby area of the Grand Hyatt Resort

This time, we had a table in the inside seating area of the restaurant. That was still fine with us, because we still got to eat just the same. Besides, we had already enjoyed the nice view, so it was someone else’s turn for that this time. At the breakfast buffet, they had pancakes instead of waffles, which was still fine by me. And they had Spam kimchi fried rice where the hash browns had been the day before, so I thought I would try that. It was okay, but I was not sure that I would get it again. We both got plenty of pineapple, too.

Looking out one of the hallway windows at the Grand Hyatt as we were walking back to our room
Looking out one of the hallway windows at the Grand Hyatt as we were walking back to our room

After we had finished, we once again checked out the vendors who were there selling stuff, because they were different vendors than the ones that had been there the day before. Pretty cool to see different things and have different food on the buffet. When we got back to our room, I called the office back home while sitting out on the lanai. It was a nice, breezy place to make a phone call, and it had a great view of the mountain off in the distance, too. It made talking about work much better. Because it was around 9:30 AM when I called, it was 2:30 PM back home, too. The time difference still seemed a little strange to us, because except for being tired an hour or two earlier at night we really had not felt much different.

A lanai with a view. We enjoyed spending time sitting in those chairs and looking out at the scenery
A lanai with a view. We enjoyed spending time sitting in those chairs and looking out at the scenery

One of the places that kept coming up over and over again when I searched for Kauaʻi was Waimea Canyon. I knew that was one of the places I wanted to be sure for us to visit. So we decided that this would be a good day for it after having seen some waterfalls and a beach the day before. So we filled up our water bottles, put on our hiking clothes, and set out in the Mustang for the canyon.

Waimea Canyon was in the opposite direction from the waterfalls and the beach we had been to, so it was exciting to go someplace different. We drove through some different towns, and we saw some places along the way that we thought we might want to check out if we had time on the way back. We also enjoyed the views of the ocean along the way. We never can get enough of that.

Laura and the ocean, at one of our stops along the road
Laura and the ocean, at one of our stops along the road

When we reached the town of Waimea, we came to the road that turned off of the main highway and started slowly climbing up the mountain. There were several places to pull off the side of the road and enjoy the view, and we stopped at a few of them. It was really cool to be able to see the canyon and how it leads out to the ocean. There were also signs along the way giving the elevation, and it was fun to see those as we went up.

Laura with the canyon behind her, but we were nowhere near the top yet
Laura with the canyon behind her, but we were nowhere near the top yet
The green valley and the red mountains. And some green mountains, too.
The green valley and the red mountains. And some green mountains, too.
at Waimea Canyon

We reached one place where several people had stopped their cars to look. Strangely, most of them seemed to be looking at a very small waterfall in the red dirt that the area is famous for. By small, I mean that this waterfall dropped about 5 feet at the most. While several of the people were going over there, we went on the other side of the road and had a great view of the canyon down below. We still were not at the top of the mountain, but we knew we were getting closer. We took several photos and just generally marveled at the view, while also marveling at the fact that so few people were coming to where we were. We climbed back up the small slope to the car and kept on going up.

I am not sure why this small waterfall was so popular, but it was. And yes, the dirt is really that red.
I am not sure why this small waterfall was so popular, but it was. And yes, the dirt is really that red.

When we reached the Waimea Canyon overlook, I was relieved to see that there were several parking spaces, unlike the very small lot we had found at Wailua Falls the day before. There were vendors selling fresh fruit, but we passed them by and went out to the overlook. What a view it was!

A panoramic view, as seen in the post Visiting Waimea Canyon on Kauaʻi – read all about it there

While the view had been nice at the other places we had stopped, it was even better from here. The canyon stretched out for miles down below. Off to the left, way off in the distance, we could see a large waterfall. And far off in the distance to the right was the ocean. Every few minutes, a helicopter would fly through the canyon carrying sightseers on tours. The seemingly small size of the helicopters helped us to judge just how large the canyon is, because the helicopters seemed tiny as they flew by.

Now that is a waterfall worth seeing
Now that is a waterfall worth seeing

The observation deck was filled with people, as you would expect. There was also a guy there in an ancient Hawaiian costume, and he would pose for photos, for a fee, of course. We did not join him, but he was doing a pretty good business. Several other people were trying to get the perfect selfie with the canyon in the background. At times, we could not get to the rail at the edge of the overlook because of all the selife-takers. I canʻt complain too much, because we took a couple of selfies ourselves. Pretty cool to have that great canyon view as the background of your photo. One girl said to her friends, “Here, take my phone and take some candid photos of me.” But then she kept looking right at the camera/phone and posing. That does not really fit in my definition of candid photos, but who can keep up with the Instagram fads of the day? Slightly farther on up away from the overlook, some people were going out to the edge of the rocks and taking photos of each other with their arms up in the air. Another one of those Instagram fads. How about we start doing some original things instead of just copying what we see over and over again on the internet? But I digress.

Just in case you were wondering how high up we were, here is a sign
Just in case you were wondering how high up we were, here is a sign

We stayed at the overlook for a good while, because we really could not get enough of the view. The hills and mountains would come to points, sometimes even forming triangles. The valley stretched far out below us. Rivers ran through the various low areas, no doubt running all the way out to the ocean. There were plenty of green trees and grass, coupled with the dark gray rocks and the reddish-brown dirt, a whole palette of colors underneath the blue sky and white clouds. It was also quite windy at the edge of the overlook. That cool wind felt quite good, because we had been rather warm at each of the spots we had stopped along the way. At times, the wind was even almost cold. But it was still nice. I just had to hold on to my hat sometimes.

That is good to know!
That is good to know!

From there we drove on a little farther. But not much farther, because we stopped at another lookout spot. This was where we had seen people doing the arms up pose, but we did not replicate that for ourselves.

Driving on a little farther, we came to another place to park. There was yet another overlook here, the Puʻu Hinahina lookout, and once again we enjoyed the view. But also here was one end of the Waimea Canyon Trail, and we thought it might be fun to do a little hiking. The sign said that the trail was 1.8 miles one way to Waipoʻo Falls, and that it should take 3 to 4 hours. We thought that was a little funny, because we can usually walk a mile in 25 to 30 minutes, if not faster. We had not had lunch yet, but we figured we would be back in plenty of time to go get something to eat. That was our downfall.

Another Kauaʻi trip report part, another chicken photo

We started on the trail, and as we walked we were going down. Pretty quickly. I thought about how that meant that on the way back we would have to go up, but we kept on going. And going. And going. We eventually realized why the sign said that the trail would take as long as it said. We to walking on flat land, even on some of the trails we have been on around home. We climbed up for a while, and then down even farther. We talked about turning around, but we kept on going.

The view from inside Waimea Canyon. Similar to the view from the top of the ridge, but lower.
The view from inside Waimea Canyon. Similar to the view from the top of the ridge, but lower.

At one point, we met a man who was on his way back up. Laura asked him what there was to see. He said in a British accent that there was a waterfall there that was not all that big but it was still interesting to see. Because we had made it that far, we decided to keep on going. There were some great views of Waimea Canyon from about the middle level of the canyon, height-wise. We were on the same level as some of the helicopters flying through the canyon, so that was pretty cool. We then came to a very steep part of the trail. We made it down rather easily, but we knew that coming back up would be a little difficult. But we could hear the waterfall, so we knew we were close.

We finally did reach Waipoʻo Falls, and we were glad to do it. The fall that we could see ahead of us was not all that large, but it was beautiful. Some people were swimming up to the water, others were wading in the shallow water, and some of us were just trying to get a photo.

We were very happy to see this waterfall!
We were very happy to see this waterfall!

As we moved on, we were met by a couple asking what was down that trail, because there was a fork in the trail. We told them that a waterfall was down the way we had just come from, and we were going to check out the other direction. They went on to the waterfall, and we went the other way. There, we found ourselves at the top of a larger waterfall. We were guessing it was the large one that we could see from the Waimea Canyon overlook, but we were not quite sure. However, helicopters kept flying right by where we were standing, so we were guessing that must be the place. Still, we did not get too close to the edge to see, because the rocks looked very slippery, and there was nothing to hold on to. On our way back from that waterfall, we met the same couple once again and told them what we had found.

The bigger waterfall. But we did not get too close...
The bigger waterfall. But we did not get too close…
...because we did not want to end up down there!
…because we did not want to end up down there!

We had made it as far down into the canyon as we were going to go. The slightly bad part was that we had to go all the way back on the same way that we had gotten down there, which we already knew was steep in several places. Could we make it back out?

A cliffhanger ending, almost literally! Did we make it out of the canyon? You probably already know the answer to that, but check back soon to find out in the next part of the 2018 Kauaʻi Trip Report!

2018 Kauai Trip Report

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Steve

Husband, father, photographer, webmaster, Christian. Steve enjoys sharing his photography and stories through Burnsland.com.

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