Waimea CanyonWaimea Canyon is the largest canyon in the Pacific and truly a dramatic sight to behold. Even though smaller than the Grand Canyon of Arizona, Waimea Canyon rivals the beauty. Numerous lookouts and hikes offer terrific views of every aspect of this natural wonder. The Ranger's Station is located at the Koke'e Museum and has hiking maps of the area. There are no gas stations along the 40-mile Waimea Canyon Road so be sure to fill up before starting this trip. The main park area provides restrooms.
DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 50 west from Hanapepe toward Waimea. Waimea Canyon Drive is on the right just past Mile Marker #23. The road travels through the canyon area and ends at Pu'u o Kila Lookout. Makaha Ridge Road runs off Waimea Canyon Road just before Mile Market #14 and travels to more sceneic lookouts. Numerous lookouts and trails lead off of these two roads.
Wailua FallsThis majestic, 80-foot tiered waterfall is located close to the roadside lookout for everyone to enjoy. The falls can dramatically change appearance depending on rain and the river's flow. I have not been to the base of the waterfall, but I have read that there is a trail or route that leads there. One site says the "steep, slippery" hike is 3/10 of a mile down the road from the falls.
DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 56 north out of Lihu'e to Ma'alo Road, Highway 583, on the right. The waterfall is located at the end of the road. Only 5 minutes from Lihu'e.
'Opaeka'a Falls'Opaeka'a Falls, is easy to get to and, like Wailua Falls, has a parking area and lookout for tourists (from a distance). Most of the maps and tourist web sites mention that there is no accessable trail to the base of the falls. On our trip we were given a tip by a local about a steep route down to the pool. We drove a little further towards the top of the waterfall and pulled off onto the side of the road and with a little searching found a trail that led to the top of the waterfall. On the far side we found a route with some ropes that we used to hike down the canyon to the bottom of the pool. The trail wasn't too difficult for us, but not a good idea for children or unfit hikers. In the fall of 2006 two tourists died falling while trying to hike down to the pool.
DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 56 north from Lihu'e toward Wailua. After crossing the Wailua Bridge, turn left on Kuamo'o Road at Mile Marker #6. Follow the road approximately 1 1/2 miles to the 'Opaeka'a Falls Lookout.
Kipu FallsThis terrific little waterfall is dearly loved and enjoyed by locals and tourists alike. The 20-foot rock wall surrounds most of the falls and a ropeswing dangles invitingly. The pool below is deep and crystal clear. The falls are fed by the Hule'ia Stream on its way to Nawiliwili Bay. At left is a sequence of photos of Jason Snelson falling into the pool from the rope swing.
DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 50 west from Lihu'e. One mile past Puhi, at Mile Marker #3, turn left on Kipu Road. At the 'Y', bear to the right. Turn left on the dirt road just before the bridge. Park your car by the gate and walk downstream approximately 5 minutes to the waterfall.
Wet Cave & Dry CaveIf you are visiting the North Shore area of Kauai then the caves are a quick and fun visit just off the road. Photo at left is the wet cave. There is another without water that you can explore a bit. Having a flashlight would be handy, though the cavern doesn't go back very far.
DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 560 west from Ha'ena. The Dry Cave is located on the left side of the road, just before Mile Marker #9, across the street from the Ha'ena Beach Park.The wet caves is located on the left just before Mile Marker #10, past the Ha'ena Beach Park. A short trail uphill leads to this cave.
|I don't know that I can sum up my experiences hiking the NaPali coast (Kalalau Trail). The coastline and landscape are beautiful. The hiking is rugged, mostly vertical (lots of up and down), and quite physically exerting. If you plan to hike the whole 11 mile trail then you will need plenty of food and a water purifier (there are numerous streams to fill your water bottles). I recommend starting the hike as early in the day as you can. The first time I hiked it was during the heat of the day and the sun really takes it out of you as there's little shade. The second time I left before dawn and I found the trail much easier and more enjoyable.|
If you want to experience the Napali coast without doing the whole trail and camping out then I recommend the Hanakapi'ai Falls hike below. You still hike the Napali for a few miles then take a detour to a huge, awesome waterfall (4 miles in & 4 miles back out - great day hike).
DIRECTIONS: Highway 560 from the north and Highway 50 from the south bring you to beginning and end of the coast. Drive to the end of Highway 560 to get to the Kalalau (Napali) Trail.
Hanakapi'ai FallsNamed after a Menehune Princess, this beautiful cascading waterfall is located off the 11-mile long Kalalau Trail (Napali Coast). This hike begins at the end of Highway 560 at Ke'e Beach. Two miles into the hike, is the Hanakapi'ae Beach. A stream flows down the Hanakapi'ai Valley here. Follow the unmaintained trail upstream for two more miles to reach this spectacular 100-foot high fall and pool. The trail is slippery, muddy, and steep with numerous stream crossings. To hike to the falls and back is a whopping 8 mile trek - a full day hike.
DIRECTIONS: Take Highway 560 to the end at Ke'ee Beach. The Kalalau Trail begins here. Hike 2 miles down the trail to Hanakapi'ai Beach. Then hike 2 more miles inland along the trail by the stream to the waterfall.