Koke'e Natural History Museum
Garden Isle Park & Museum
Koke'e State Park is located at 4,000 foot atop Waimea Canyon ridge. The park encompasses 4,345 acres of land and has over 45 miles of trails. A 20-square mile highland bog is known as the Alaka'i Swamp and is a unique experience. Koke'e State Park is now charging a $5 parking fee per vehicle for out-of-state visitors. Pedestrians, motorcycles, and moped riders will pay $1 per person. Check out our hiking guide at Kauai Hiking Trails. Koke'e Museum & Lodge is located between mile markers 15 and 16 on Waimea Canyon Drive with the parking lot on your left. Parking is free and a stop here is a good time investment, especially if it's one of those days the weather just won't cooperate with you at the canyon. As we've said before, weather changes fast on Kaua'i, so if you're experiencing undesirable weather, head over to the lodge for a while before trying the overlooks again.
The museum has several interesting displays where you can learn more about the island, its geology, flora and fauna, and even its history. A few of our favorite displays are the three-dimensional figure of Waimea Canyon, the factoids on Wai'ale'ale including the rain gauge showing the record precipitation amounts, and the wall dedicated to the tragic story of Hurricane Iniki which struck the island on September 11, 1992. Iniki (Hawaiian for Enid) formed from a tropical depression that moved in from the east. It gradually strengthened into a major hurricane and turned north, with its eye passing directly over the island of Kaua'i. Iniki caused over two billion dollars in damage and killed six people. Iniki was the most powerful hurricane to make landfall in Hawai'i since Hurricane Dot in 1959. The wall serves as a tribute to what the category three hurricane did to the island and proof that the Hawaiian people can survive and continue to thrive after such a horrible natural disaster. If you have any questions about Waimea Canyon or Koke'e State Park, the museum is the place to ask. The staff here is very friendly and knowledgeable. If you're looking for a bite to eat, head next door to the Koke'e Lodge.
*Main image provided by Shutterstock.