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Top Things to Do on Kauai

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Visit Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park
Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific - One of the Best Things to Do on Kauai

Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, as seen from the Waimea Canyon Lookout in Western Kauai

Photo by John Fischer, licensed to About.com

Kauai is Hawaii's Garden Isle, known for its lush foliage, beautiful flowers and long white sand beaches. Kauai is the oldest of the main Hawaiian Islands. It's the perfect island for a honeymoon or romantic getaway, but also a great place for a family vacation. We've chosen our top things to do on the island of Kauai, Hawaii.

Waimea Canyon and Koke'e State Park

A must see for all visitors to Kauai is the amazing Waimea Canyon. Ten miles long, two miles wide and 3,600 feet deep, Mark Twain nicknamed Waimea Canyon the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific."

With its deep reds, greens and browns, each created by a different volcanic flow over centuries, many feel that is much more colorful than the Grand Canyon, and I'm one of them.

The canyon itself was formed by the Waimea River as it cut it's way from Alaka'i Wilderness Area to the ocean.

Waimea Canyon is located in the western part of Kauai. Two roads make their way up to the canyon, both from the southern part of the island - Waimea Canyon Road (State Highway 550) from the town of Waimea and Koke'e Road (State Highway 55) from the town of Kekaha. Both have a number of viewpoints offering excellent views of the coast and the island of Ni'ihau. My suggestion is to take one road up to the canyon and the other down.

It will take 30-45 minutes to reach the first of several lookouts from which you can view Waimea Canyon. Be sure to stop at the Waimea Canyon Lookout, the Pu'u Ka Pele Lookout with its excellent views of Waipo'o Falls and the Pu'u Hinahina Lookout.

Beyond Waimea Canyon, the highway enters Koke'e State Park and the Ku'la Natural Area Reserve. Koke'e State Park is over 4,000 acres with about 45 hiking trails some of which head into Waimea Canyon and some of which are short hikes to non-canyon overlooks. The Koke'e Museum is well worth a stop.

The road ends at two lookouts for Kalalau Valley, one of the spectacular valleys along Kauai's Na Pali Coast. There are two lookouts for the Kalalau Valley, the Kalalau Lookout and the Pu'u o Kila Lookout which marks the beginning of the Pihea Trail which leads to the Pihea Overlook and the Alaka'i Swamp Trail. Weather conditions can make the road and trail very dangerous in this area.

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