Canyon Trail to Waipo’o Falls- Big Adventures and Big Views
After a particularly long week at the office I was so ready for the weekend. My family was heading to the west side to stay in one of Koke’e State Park’s cabins for a few days. We were going off the grid which meant three days of no work emails, no mindless Instagram scrolling, and no distraction. I was pumped!
Our tribe decided that we were going to be “nature people” for the day and go on a hike. Our group of six rounded out to my 50-something parents, my siblings, and 10 year old niece. My mom (bless her heart) is not a hiker and she is not shy about telling you that. We we’re low-key surprised that she was going to come with us, but even she had a great time. The hike is rated easy/moderate, but I think that depends on which of my family members you asked. 😉
The trail was muddy in spots, because it rained a good bit the day before. Watch where you step, as the branches and roots you’ll walk over will take no prisoners. This is not the time to wear those cute new slippahs you brought on your vacation! Make sure to wear hiking boots or tennis shoes.
The first leg of the journey is through thick jungle and therefore, is well-shaded. This is one of my favorite parts of the hike. I tried to remind myself to “be present” and I urge you to do the same. Smell the Kahili Ginger, see the different birds in flight, and dare to munch on the strawberry guava that grows so abundantly (toss the shell and thank me later.) These small details are easily some of the best parts of this 4-mile journey!
We followed the signs toward Waipo’o Falls and soon enough we reached the rim of the canyon. Get out your camera. Trust me, this photo-op is a 10/10. It will be tempting to flirt with the edge to get a sick photo for the ‘gram, but pleeeease don’t to get too close. I don’t want to read about you in the paper next week.
The mind-blowing views of the canyon make it easy to understand why the Waimea Canyon is called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific. After a short walk and a couple obstacles, in the form of boulders, you’ll be greeted by an open ridge offering breathtaking panoramic views of the canyon and ocean. Fun fact: You may also get cell service here! Just ask my dad who was stoked to catch the last few minutes of the Buccaneers/Raiders game.
Keep on the trail and you’ll come to a picturesque waterfall and pool. It’s the perfect spot for travelers who are eager to re-energize with a quick and refreshing swim. Ok, this is it! This is what you sweated and walked for! Just kidding.
Carefully go down the short drop to the right. There you’ll find yourself standing at the top of an incredible waterfall that plunges 800 ft down into the canyon. Look around, take it in, and enjoy your feeling of accomplishment. You made it! Not kidding this time. Take photos, play in the stream, or have a snack. You do you. We splashed each other, counted crawfish, and rationed out the two granola bars we managed to pack. (Note to self: bring more snacks next time). After about 20 minutes at the top of the falls, we were ready to turn around and complete the journey back.
After you tackle that short uphill back to the top of the rim, I urge you to turn around. Breathe it all in (pant if you want) and take a mental picture of this moment. It’s not a scene you’ll soon forget!
If you are searching for a little challenge with a big reward, Waipo’o Falls Trail delivers.
Aloha and happy adventuring!
Directions: Journey up Highway 550 and drive north into Koke’e State Park. On your right you will pass the Waimea Canyon lookout offering stunning views of the canyon and some of your first glimpses of the magnificent canyon. Continue about 4 miles and you will come to the Pu’uhina’hina lookout. To the right there is a dirt road that will take you to the trailhead to begin your hike. If your vehicle has 4wd capability you can head down this road. Follow the signage until you reach the parking area. The trailhead and start of your adventure will be to the left! (Our truck was not up for the off-roading required for the dirt road. We parked along the main road and enjoyed the .75 mile walk, or “warm up,” to the trailhead.)
Written by guest blogger and Kauai Resident, Bri Checkley.
The peaceful seclusion of Princeville and Hanalei, swaddled by the majestic peaks of the Na Pali Coast and draped in nature’s rugged beauty make it the perfect place for you and your family to spend some quality time together. With no shortage of kid-friendly activities and fabulous beaches where even your littlest ones can learn to swim, surf, and build sandcastles, you’ll find a wealth of wonderful Kauai sites and attractions just minutes away from your new vacation home with Princeville Vacation Rentals.
Let’s Go To the Beach!
While Kaua‘i’s North Shore beaches have breathtaking scenery and panoramic views, not all are good for swimming thanks to large winter waves and rough conditions. The two best beaches for swimming are right next to Princeville; Hanalei Bay to the west, and Anini Beach to the east. Hanalei offers wide stretches of sand, grass, and shade trees, perfect for every type of beachgoer. The bay shelters swimmers, and many young kids learn to surf in the gentle break here. Swimming is great year-round, and the sunsets from the pier are spectacular. Anini Beach boasts a nearly 2-mile long barrier reef that blocks the ocean’s powerful waves, leaving a lagoon that is perfect for young children learning to swim or snorkel. Rent a SUP board or a surf board from the beach vendors (or the shops in town) and practice your balance in the water. Adults, we’re looking at you too. Check out Kaua‘i Explorer, an excellent online resource for beach information and conditions.
For more Kaua’i, Hawai’i top attractions, take the family to Lydgate Park in Kapa`a. The beach features two naturally enclosed swimming areas so little ones can enjoy the ocean while you don’t have to worry. It also has a lifeguard on duty. Next door is the Kamalani Playground, a hit with kids big and small. They’ll love the swings, balance beams, musical bells, and of course the volcano slide. This massive, Hawaiian-themed play area is a huge hit. Closer to home, the Princeville Playground has a selection of slides, swings, and climbing trees. The library across the street is a great family stop as well, including the odd collection of statues that mark the entrance to Princeville town.
Family Fun at Kaua’i, Hawai’i Top Attractions
The entire island is a playground for the entire family, with plenty of Kauai sites and attractions to offer. Visit the famous Waimea Canyon, explore the beginning of the rugged Na Pali Coast (kids as young as 4 can handle the first half-mile of the trail before it gets truly rugged), visit the working dairy farm of Kaua‘i Kunana in Kilauea, or take a relaxing kayak trip down the Hanalei River.