Featured Route: Waimea Canyon Scenic Drive

If you're planning to be in Kauai, Hawaii, anytime soon, you won't want to miss the Waimea Canyon Scenic Drive. Waimea Canyon Drive is the main access road to Waimea Canyon in Koke'e State Park. The canyon is one of Kauai's most outstanding natural features, boasting colorful rock layers and deep valley gorges. It's ten miles long and over a half mile deep, making it the largest canyon in the Pacific. 

Beginning in Waimea, visitors can take Waimea Canyon Drive until it merges into Koke'e Road in Kekaha. The scenic drive has a few curves but is relatively easy to drive. On the drive, some lookout points feature the coastline, while others showcase the mountain landscape. One of the popular spots overlooks a small waterfall surrounded by Kauai's famous red dirt.

Around mile marker six, the road merges into Koke'e Road, where you'll drive another four miles to the Waimea Canyon Lookout to take in the great view. Located at an elevation of about 4,000 feet, the Waimea Canyon lookout can be a bit cooler, especially in the winter months. Bring along warm clothing and don't forget your camera for excellent photo opportunities.

Further up, around mile marker 13, is the Pu'u Ka Pele Lookout. It's a very small pull-out on the highway that provides an interesting angle into Waimea Canyon through a narrow gorge. It also provides the closest view of Waipo'o Falls, although the view is partially obstructed. The Pu'u Ka Pele Lookout is another great opportunity to break out your camera. 

Arguably the best of the three lookouts, Puu Hinahina Lookout, around mile marker 13.5, provides the most dramatic views of Waimea Canyon. From this point, you can see all the way down to the Pacific Ocean from atop the Canyon Walls. This lookout also provides a unique opportunity to get a clear view of the forbidden island Ni'ihau, 17 miles away offshore. 

It is best to take the Waimea Canyon Scenic Drive on a sunny day, as the views won't be as pretty when it rains. Hiking trails are available for those who wish to see the Canyon by foot, at various mile markers. If you decide to spend the night, you can stay at the Koke'e Cabins, conveniently located along your drive.

Reach out to your AAA Travel agent for more information about the best scenic drives in Kauai, or to book a stay near Waimea Canyon. We can make all your travel arrangements to Hawaii, including flights, hotel stays, rental cars, and more. Call 1-800-444-8691 or visit a local AAA Travel branch today.


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