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Kauai, Hawaii (Day 7): Waimea Canyon Hike + Beach Time

Summary: On our last full day in Kauai, we started the day with a hike in Waimea Canyon. The Canyon Trail to Waipoo Falls trail is an easy-moderate 3.2 mile trail. The most difficult part of this hike is being careful of the steep drop-offs into the Canyon. With a total elevation gain of 1,200 feet, you will spend some time going up hill but the reward on this hike, like so many of the amazing Kauai's hikes, is the jaw-dropping vistas near Waipoo Falls. In the afternoon, we spent time our last afternoon in Kauai, lounging at Kekaha Beach, enjoying the warm sun and water. This blog post is part of 7-part series related to our time in Kauai. See our itinerary page and additional blog posts for more information about the Garden Island.

What Gear You Should Bring. Kauai is called the Garden Island because of its lush, green landscape. What comes with that, of course, is a ton of rain. The day we hiked the Canyon trail, we had a few dry days so it was not too bad. If it has been raining, however, we could see how the trail at the end could get slick and dangerous. We recommend bringing, in addition to the usual water and snacks:

(1) A rain poncho that can fit over your day pack. When it pouring rain, you will appreciate that the contents of your bag stayed dry;

(2) A lightweight rain jacket. Intermittent light rain is common and may not require breaking out the full jacket;

(3) Hiking sandals or other shoes with good tractions. Depending on the weather, the trail, like during our visit, may be SUPER muddy and slick. We all use Keen hiking sandals and they're a lifesaver for trails like this.

(4) Bug Repellent. The bugs will get you here so think about dousing yourself with some quality eco-friendly bug repellent.

Getting there. From Waimea, the drive is approximately 40 minutes up Highway 550. The trail head is well-marked and will be on your right when you arrive. There is free parking available on the road across from the trail head. If you have a 4X4, you can make the hike even shorter by driving down the bumpy, muddy road to a small parking area closer to the view point. We arrived at the trail head at 8:00 a.m. and were the first to arrive. This is a heavily trafficked out and back trail with parts of the trail being rather narrow, so arriving early is helpful.

Danger Signs. The first part of the hike starts on a wide dirt road until you reach where you can park. Here, the trail narrows and you are greeted with a series of "danger" signs. Don't let the signs deter you. If you stay on the trail, it is safe. Just be mindful of the drop-offs and maybe skip the very end, albeit the best part, if you're on the trail while it is raining or soon after. Specifically, when you reach Waipoo Falls, the trail is steep without a ton of foot holds. We could see how this would easily be too slippery. When we went, it had not rained for a couple days so it was fine and boy, was it worth the hike. The views are unforgettable.

Amazing Views. Okay, so technically you can see similar views from the road up to Waimea Canyon but this particular sweeping view as far as we can tell, can only be found here. Either way, there is something about having to work a bit to get the view that makes it that much more special.

Kekaha Beach. After the hike, we stopped back at our Air BnB, had lunch, changed, and then set out to spend some time on the beach. Kekaha Beach is a long beach where cars are permitted on the sand if your vehicle is equipped for it and you so choose (we did not). We like the spot all the way down at the end near Kekaha Beach Park. We enjoyed the waves and also just sitting back and relaxing on our last afternoon in the Kauai.


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