Grand Canyon of Hawaii: Waimea Canyon State Park

Nicknamed “The Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” Waimea Canyon State Park was on our must-see list for Kauai.  Kauai was our final port in Hawaii.  So, of course, we signed up for the shore excursion to the Grand Canyon of Hawaii.

Auntie Alicia guided us around Kauai for the day.  She drove us through the village where she lived and stopped to introduce us to her husband.  She invited us all to stay at her house if we came back to Kauai.

Waimea Canyon gets over 600 inches of rainfall a year, so it wasn’t surprising that it rained as we rode there.  But when we got to the canyon the rain stopped.  The Grand Canyon of Hawaii is a large canyon:  ten miles long and up to 3,600 feet deep.  The beautiful colored layers of the canyon come from the rocks on the steep canyon walls.  But the valley is also lush and green from all the rain.

We stopped at the Puu ka Pele overlook and stood at the viewpoints oohing and aahing.  A young native Hawaiian man in traditional dress stood on a bench and gave a talk about Hawaiian traditions and legends of the Waimea Canyon.  We thought he was a ranger, and he pulled the tourists right in by acting like it, but he asked for money at the end of the talk.  He was very informative and interesting.

Kauai, like all the other Hawaiian islands, was formed by a volcano, Mount Wai’ale’ale.  This mountain is the tallest on Kauai and one of the wettest places on earth.  Waimea Canyon was formed by the erosion from the Waimea River but also from a huge collapse of the volcano’s caldera about four million years ago.  Over time the exposed basalt has weathered from its original black to bright red.

Several helicopters flew over the canyon and had a great view of the Waimea River far below.  Tom and I wanted to hike a little of the ridge trail, but it was on the other side of the canyon.  Auntie Alicia had other places to take us and we only stayed at the canyon for 30 minutes.  I did, however, have plenty of time to take pictures of the gorgeous canyon.


  • Kristine Moye

    It really does look like The Grand Canyon, but with greenery.

    • revkaren54

      It was beautiful, but we were sorry we didn’t have time to hike into it. Would have loved to see it from a different perspective.