One of the destinations I plan to visit on my round-the-world trip is Kauai in the Hawaiian Islands. By lucky coincidence, I got in touch with a local resident who volunteered to write a guest post about this fantastic island: Jake Garrett from The Villas at Poipu Kai. Currently [month of Mar 2010] they are offering a promotion for a free helicopter ride to Waimea Canyon. On to Jake’s post, which includes details on a great hike I’ll definitely do!
In 1866 Mark Twain travelled to the Hawaiian Islands and gave the secluded tropical paradise a real place on the map. He was on assignment from the Sacramento Union and wrote 25 letters documenting his journey. During his time he never made it to the Garden Isle of Kauai, yet Kauaians are anxious to claim him as part of their history. The legend goes that when Twain visited the Waimea Canyon he dubbed it the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Well, the story is false, but it doesn’t require a folk hero to see that the title is well attributed.
The Waimea Canyon stacks up the Grand Canyon quite well in beauty and history. Two natural processes have formed the island over the last 5 million years – natural rainfall from the wettest place on earth and the collapse of the islands’ primary volcano. Centuries of cataclysmic events and continuous erosion give sightseers a breathtaking experience. The canyon is 10 miles long, 1 mile wide and 3,600 ft deep. The displaced sediment over the years forms the entire plain of the southwest portion of the island.
All these facts make Waimea Canyon a must see when visiting Kauai. You can make the trip to the canyon one day long or a week long. If you are going to make it a day trip be sure to bring a long sleeved shirt. The temperature up the canyon is 10-15 degrees cooler than the rest of the island. Also, you should go on at least a small hike. While the lookouts are nice and the vistas spectacular – there is nothing like walking down through this immense canyon and forest area. There are a number of hikes that you can choose. A great day hike is on the Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls. The trail is 2.4 miles one way. The trailhead starts at the Pu’u Hinahina lookout between mile markers 13 and 14 on Waimea Canyon Drive. The hike should take 2-3 hours depending on how long you linger.
The stories that you will be able to tell will give Mark Twain his biggest regret – not visiting the Grand Canyon of the Pacific!!
Thanks for the great post, Jake – this canyon is somewhere I’ll definitely spend a few days during my trip in May!