Have you ever heard of Grand Canyon in Hawaii? Well, we hadn’t too. The only one we knew of was the one in Arizona that we had visited a few years back.
While doing research for the Kauai leg of our Hawaii trip, we encountered a place loosely called the Grand Canyon of Hawaii (formally referred to as the Waimea Canyon). Unfortunately, it was not even mentioned as an attraction, let alone as a must-visit. However, we have a knack for spotting lesser-known but spellbinding places. Such was Waimea Canyon!
After landing at Lihue Airport on the second island Kauai of our trip, we picked up our rental car from Alamo. It was about noon and we were so hungry for pizza that we hadn’t had (yet) as we would have liked in Hawaii. As our favorite Pizza Hut was on our way to the first attraction, we couldn’t have been happier.
The scenery along the way so attractive…the cloudy weather surely added to the experience.As we were about the reach Waimea Canyon, an hour away from the airport, I could see the landscapes that resembled the famous Grand Canyon. I thought this was actually a part of that, maybe just separated by miles. I started stopping our car quite often, wondering if this was what the canon was all about.The road was zig-zag with sharp turns and a steep slope at times – exactly what I love on long drives! There was hardly any traffic after we had taken an exit for the canyon off the main road (around half-way through). No wonder, people don’t even know about this place!
As soon as we reached the main spot overlooking the canon, our happiness knew no bounds. Just imagine looking at the Grand Canyon all over again, with much more greenery and natural waterfalls in the view! There were many clouds in the view when we reached there, but cleared up while we spent about an hour just at this stop. The crowd must not have been more than 20 folks at any time we were there, and one onlooker pointed at a wild sheep deep down in the canyon. We saw that breed quite close later on during our Hawaii trip.Our main attraction (that Kauai is famous for) was NaPali Coast, and its Pu’u O Kila lookout was just about 5 miles from the Waimea lookout. So, we were actually covering one main attraction and having a glimpse of an even major one on that day. But that day was primarily for Waimea, so we took our time and saw Waimea from every possible stop that we could make in that 5-mile stretch also.
Some stops are indeed worthy of a taking a pause and admiring for as long as you can. My suggestion has always been to hit the brakes even if you see just a couple of people at what seems like a stop!
*There is an ample parking space (and washrooms) at the Waimea lookout and it is free.
**If you are stopping on the road at non-designated stops, make sure you take precaution as the road is narrow and it is often rainy or cloudy there.