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Arguably no canyon in the world can match the Grand Canyon. But be that as it may, there are plenty of other canyons in the world offering their own unique dramatic beauty (like Mexico's Copper Canyon, dubbed Mexico's Grand Canyon). One of the most famous canyons in Hawaii is Waimea Canyon - otherwise known as the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

Waimea Canyon is located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai. Kauai was the filming location for the original 1993 Jurassic Park and has long fascinated visitors for its otherworldly landscapes. Besides its eye-watching natural beauty, Kauai is also famous for being one of the wettest places on earth (so bring a good rain jacket).


Waimea Canyon - Hawaii's Grand Canyon

Whereas the environment of the Grand Canyon in Arizona is quite arid, the Waimea Canyon is one of the wettest places in the world. It is located on the Hawaiian island of Kauai, which is home to the famously wet Mount Waialeale and its "Weeping Wall."

  • Oldest: Kauai Island Is The Oldest Of The Large Hawaiian Islands

The canyon is large. It stretches for around 10 miles or 16 kilometers and is up to 3,000 feet or 900 meters deep. The canyon has been carved by the Waimea River (which is constantly fed by the voluminous downpours on Mount Waialeale).

Additionally, it seems that the catastrophic collapse of the volcano had a large impact on forming the canyon around 4 million years ago.

  • Length: 10 miles or 16 km
  • Depth: Up to 3000 feet or 900 meters

The canyon's name "Waimea" means in Hawaiian "reddish water," in reference to the color of the water of the Waimea River. It erodes the canyon's red soil.

Related: This Is The Best Month To Visit The Grand Canyon, And Which Tour To Take While You're There

Hiking Trails & Tips In The Waimea Canyon State Park

The park is home to a stunning wilderness area and many hiking trails. There are hiking trails for everyone - everything from a relaxing stroll through the canyon to strenuous hikes for ardent adventurers. Some of the trails include:

  • Cliff Trail: A Easy Hike, Completed In Half An House With Stunning Views Of The Canyon
  • Canyon Trail: A Moderate Hike, Takes Up to 3 Hours And Goes To The Waipo'o Falls & Kumuwela Lookout
  • Black Pipe Trail: A Moderate Hike, About 8 Miles Long And Takes around Half A Day To Complete
  • Kukui Trail: A Strenuous Hike, Only For Experienced Hikers Who Can Cross Rough Terrain, It Goes Through Forests and Goes To The Bottom Of The Waimea River

The best time to visit the Waimea Canyon is during the summer when the humidity doesn't cause clouds that disrupt the landscape. The cooler months may be more pleasant, but visibility will also be more limited. It is also better to hike in the early morning hours; the skies become clouded as early as 10.00 am.

Related: These Grand Canyon Glampsites Are Ready To Elevate Your Camping Experience

Waimea Canyon State Park Admission & Lookouts

Today the Waimea Canyon is contained in the Waimea Canyon State Park - a popular tourist attraction on the island. The park is open every day during daylight hours.

  • Size: 1,866 acres (7.5 km2)

Entrance is free for Hawaiian residents but has a $5.00 entry fee per person for non-Hawaiian residents. There is also a $10 parking fee for non-Hawaiian residents (again, free for Hawaiian residents).

  • Entrance Fee: $5.00
  • Parking Fee: $10.00

To see and soak in the Waimea Canyon, find one of the several lookouts. Gaze out over the canyon's mesmerizing waterfalls, rainbows, tropical cliffs, wild foliage, and dramatic landscapes. It will be hard to pull one's eyes away from the crested buttes, rugged crags, and deep valley gorges.

Some of the main lookouts include:

  • Waimea Canyon Lookout: The Main Lookout For People Who Don't Want To Hike, It Offers Panoramic Views of The Canyon
  • Puu Hinahina Look: Located At Mile Marker 13 and Offers A Parallel View of the Canyon With The winding River Below
  • Kalalau Lookout: Located At Mile Marker 18, Reached By a Hike From Kee Beach, And Overlooks The Napali Coast

One of the most popular ways to see the Waimea Canyon and Kauai Island is with a helicopter flight. Island Helicopters even have exclusive permission to land at the waterfall seen in Jurassic Park.