Sunday, March 6, 2011

Waimea Canyon

In addition to my first honu sighting, this year's trip also included my first visit to Waimea Canyon, located on the west side of Kauai. Since we stay on the north shore, you'd think this would be a fairly straightforward trip. However, the road that circles most of the island literally stops a few miles from where we stay, which means we had to drive to the east and south sides of the island to finally reach our destination. So what could have been, in theory, a 30-45 minute drive was closer to 90 minutes instead. Good thing we all enjoyed each other's company (and before I get any further, I have to give special thanks to my dad, who did all of the driving for both this excursion and anywhere else we went during our time on Kauai).

Once we finally got to the west side, the next step was driving up Mount Waiʻaleʻale. Partway along we stopped at one of the lookouts, both so I could take some pictures and so we could all stretch our legs for a few minutes. My camera doesn't have any sort of panoramic photo setting, but hopefully these pics will give a decent sense of the view we had:

However, even a vista like that doesn't really prepare you for seeing the canyon itself; Mark Twain dubbed Waimea Canyon "the Grand Canyon of the Pacific," and when you finally get there it's not hard to see why:

A closer look at some of the rock formations:

Further on up, the view from the top of the mountain wasn't too bad either:

A closer look at a waterfall nestled against the above mountainside:

A catamaran we spotted as we enjoyed the view:

Different lookout, same gorgeousness:

A couple of shots of an ultralight that went by overhead:

A few photos I took of the nearby hiking trail:

Looking back up the trail toward where I'd started from:

And a couple of shots of the surrounding terrain; I loved the contrast between the red dirt and... well, everything from the green vegetation to the blue sky:

When I noticed this view of the canyon on our way back down, I just had to ask Dad to turn around and go back so I could take a picture or two; this particular shot turned out to be one of my favorites from that day:

I thought the dead tree at the top of the ridge helped make for a striking visual:

And one last look at the canyon from a lookout point a little further down the mountain:

All in all, just a gorgeous place to visit, and most definitely worth the time it took to get there. I hope I get a chance to go again during future trips to Kauai.

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