Waimea Canyon on Kauai
Dubbed "The Grand Canyon of the Pacific" by Mark Twain, Waimea Canyon is the largest canyon in the Pacific and truly a dramatic sight to behold at ten miles long, one mile wide, and more than 3,500 ft. deep.
Carved thousands of years ago by rivers and floods that flowed from Mount Waialeale's summit, the canyon is home to the Waimea River. The river was named for the red hue of the water, as Waimea means 'red waters.' The red tint is caused by several natural processes that break down the ancient rock inside the gorge. Like the Grand Canyon in Arizona, through the processes of weathering (precipitation), mass wasting (gravitational breakdown), and erosion (by the river), the walls of Waimea Canyon are literally being rusted, broken down, and carried out to sea over time. From space, you can even see the tinted runoff making its way into the ocean.
There are three "official" lookout spots from which you can view the Waimea Canyon: the official Waimea Canyon lookout (just past Mile Marker 10 on Hwy. 550); the Puu Ka Pele lookout (a smaller lookout near mile marker 13 on Hwy. 550); and Puu Hinahina Lookout (between mile markers 13-14 on Hwy. 550), which we believe to be the best of the three lookouts.
A word of advice: before you begin your journey up Hwy. 550 be sure to check your gas gauge. The round trip is about 36 miles with an elevation change of 4,000 feet. Take Hwy. 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 Puu o Kila Lookout. Makaha Ridge Road runs off Waimea Canyon Road just before mile marker 14 and travels to more scenic lookouts. Numerous lookouts and trails lead off of these two roads.
If you want to spend a day with a friendly and extremely knowledgeable local guide, we recommend Tread Lightly Kauai Tours. They are a great company that offers private, guided sightseeing and light hiking tours in Waimea Canyon and elsewhere on Kauai.
Whether you explore Waimea Canyon by yourself or with a guide, you simply must see its spectacular beauty in person!
Featured Waimea Canyon Tours
Our featured listings are some of the best Waimea Canyon Tours you'll find anywhere- from full-day hikes, family-friendly sightseeing tours, and spectacular helicopter tours that'll have you soaring right into this geologic marvel. These tours stand out for their exceptional guides, unique experiences, and their focus on highlighting what makes Waimea Canyon truly shine. Book your adventure today!
Make a great adventure even better by being prepared for anything you encounter along the trail. From great hiking boots, adventure cameras, Hawaii guidebooks, and more, we have a wide variety of hiking gear and travel supplies you'll need. Browse our selections, pick up what you need, and be safe, comfy, and well-outfitted with Hawaii Guide. Mahalo!