Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park
Kauai is known as the Garden Island of Hawaii. However, not all of it is lush with plant life. There is a whole section of Kauai known as the Waimea Canyon- the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. It is mostly red rock and dust landscape.
It is such a stark contrast to the rest of Kauai. Found on the central-west of the island, the curvy, straight uphill Highway 550 takes you to Waimea Canyon State Park and its many lookout points. If you are wondering, my Nissan Versa tiny rental car easily did this drive. Although, I was jealous of the convertibles driving with their tops down.
It wasn’t very crowded first thing in the morning so I was able to drive as fast or as slow as I wanted (depending on the sharp turns steep slopes). Around mile marker 9, the “grand” canyon opened up. Don’t miss the Waipo’o waterfall around mile 12-13.
One past the canyon you can keep on driving on the 550 into Koke’e State Park. Koke’e State Park has many hiking trails to take but the most famous one Nu’Alolo is closed due to erosion. I attempted to take the 3.2 mile (6.4 roundtrip) Awa’awapuhi Trail but got bored before mile 1 was completed and turned back. It was very muddy and I just wasn’t in the mood today.
One good thing about traveling solo is getting to do whatever you want and can fly by the seat of your pants.
The best lookout of the day was yet to come. Further into Koke’e State Park is Kalalau Lookout. If you remember Kalalau was the difficult hike I did on Day 1 in Kauai. Here is the area from high up above:
You can hike down a ways on the Pihea Trail to another lookout but it is straight down. And what does down must come back up so I took selfies and called it good.
It took a few hours to do the whole Highway 550 area, Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Park so I was ready to eat when I drove back down to sea level. Kauai knows how to do outdoor food stands. I guess when you can eat outside all year long, “beach shack” restaurants make a lot of sense. I stopped at the Shrimp Station in Waimea.
I really love coconut shrimp so that is what I ordered for lunch. Others around me had garlic shrimp, shrimp curries, shrimp burgers, peel and eat, and shrimp tacos (that looked amazing!).
I had to eat something other than raw ahi tuna- although that is the plan for dinner
Reader question: Are you a shrimp person? What is your favorite way to eat shrimp?