The micro climates of Kauai have created some unique and breathtaking landscapes. Waimea Canyon is one of the most picturesque landscapes in Kauai. The orange and red dirt makes it feel like you are on mars.
We headed out from the The Koloa Landing Resort and made our way towards the Waimea Canyon in Kōkeʻe State Park. Make sure to keep reading until the end, there is a bonus viewpoint.
How to get there?
Take HI-50 W to head towards the town of Waimea.
Make a right on the HI-550 N.
Keep driving until you hit mile marker 13.
Turn right on to Puu Hinahina viewpoint parking lot
We were not ready for this!
Once you park your car, take the steps up to the Puu Hinahina viewpoint to catch a glimpse of the Waimea Canyon. Walk back towards the end of the parking lot and you will find the canyon trail to your right.
The Canyon trail hike to the Waipo’o falls is about 3.6 mile hike round trip and takes approximately 2.5 hours. As soon as we parked our car, it started raining cats and dogs and then 2 minutes later it was gone. That is something you are going to have to get used to. After the rain stopped, we grabbed our bags and headed down the canyon trail. I was wearing my white converse and my 2 other friends were wearing their workout nike shoes. We had clearly underestimated this hike and the weather. More on how that turned out later down the page.
Walking through a rain forest
We were really excited for this hike, as this was the only adventure activity we had planned in Kauai. Ten minutes in to the hike, we started second guessing our situation at hand. We could keep going or we can go back. The trail was muddy, it was raining, and I had expensive camera equipment; but this was our only chance to hike in Kauai. As we approached the hike, we told ourselves “this is going be a hike of a lifetime”. After that we never looked back, we wanted that view point and that secret waterfall at the end. It was like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow.
Slipping, Falling, and more slipping
WEAR THE CORRECT SHOES, I can’t emphasize this enough wear your hiking shoes. Although there were some women who did the hike in sandals. There were 3 year old kids hiking along the way. I will admit I was the first one to fall on my butt with my camera in my hand. It is not worth it people, put those cameras in your bag and take them out once you get to the view point.
Walking over tree roots, climbing down trees, crossing a big puddle while holding on to a rope with one hand, strolling through lush green landscapes felt like I was in the amazon rain forest. I could not believe I was here..
About half way
About half way you will see a junction and a small parking lot. Pro tip: Only drive to that parking lot if you have a 4-wheel drive. You will see a sign for Canyon Trail and Waipo’o Falls. We didn’t take the Canyon Trail and continued to the falls. The trail starts to get more treacherous as you go further into the hike. There are switchbacks going up and down, watch where you step, and double check you have proper footing before taking the next. During the rainy season, which is almost all the time, it can get very slippery. There is one part in the hike where everyone slipped. My friend George kept on slipping “every step” he took, or at least that’s what he said.
Once you get closer you will start to get a glimpse of the Waimea Canyon on your right side. Go up a few rocks and you will arrive at an open mountain covered in red dirt. Be careful because there are no guard rails, the ridge seems to fall straight down the canyon.
Don’t stop there, your reward awaits
As the clouds are rolling through, you can admire the sheer beauty of the Waimea Canyon. Keep going straight and the mountain starts to curve to the left, follow it down, make a left, duck under some trees, and squeeze through some big rocks and your reward waits at the end.
This is where the Waipo’o Falls begin. I wasted no time, I set up my camera and walked right in to the small pool. Be careful stepping on the rocks, the water can make them slippery. Although it is not the waterfall you see from the lookout point, it is better than the big one.
Hike of a lifetime?
If you ask me, this hike was worth every slip, every fall, every “oh s**t” moment. I knew that I was never going to experience this kind of thrill in my life anywhere. I am so glad I booked that last-minute flight to Kauai. This was an experience I will never ever forget.
My advice: Don’t let a little fall on your butt stop you from experiencing one of the best moments of your life.
I will leave you with a quote from my friend George: “This is probably the best worst idea we have had”.
I want to thank you if you have made it this far in to the blog. Once you have made it back to your car from the Waipo’o Falls hike. Keep on driving up to the main road until it ends, you will arrive at the Pu’u O Kila Lookout point. This look out point offers breathtaking views of the Kalalau valley. This valley has been featured in many blockbuster films, one of them being Jurassic Park.
Go ahead and save this pin for later!