To see the raw power and splendor of a waterfall set among the stunning red-brown cliffs of Waimea, head to Waipo’o Falls. Drive to Waimea town on Highway 50, and then head up the mountain on Highway 550. This is a beautifully scenic drive in which there will be several pull offs on the right-hand side to admire Waimea Canyon, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” Some of these lookouts will provide perfect vantage points for admiring Waipo’o Falls from across the valley. Dropping in a two-step plunge 800 feet onto the rocks below, this cascade is impressive even at a distance.
Trail to Waipo’o Falls
To get up close and personal with Waipo’o Falls, you’ll need to lace up your hiking books and head down a two-mile trail that curves along the stunning red-brown cliffs of Waimea Canyon. The first section of the trail meanders through enclosed forest until the trees gradually clear and you are on a wide dirt path with steep drop offs to your right. At this point there is nothing separating you from the trail and the canyon. Formed from erosion of the Waimea River, the canyon is up to 3,600 feet deep and ten miles long.
As you near the end of this open section, be sure to look off the cliff in front of you to spot a rock arch perched on the cliffs beyond. As the trail doubles back and down a hill, you’ll come to an intersection. Make a left to take a cold dip in a ginger-lined pool. You would never guess that this calm water is leading up to the magnificent waterfall that you’ll see when you head back to the intersection and go the other way. At this point you’ll be standing at the top of Waipo’o Falls, watching it crash onto the boulders below. While this vantage point does not provide a full visual of the falls, you’ll be able to appreciate its magnitude if you stopped at the lookouts on the way up the mountain. After relaxing near the rushing water, it’s a two mile return hike to the starting point.
Directions to the Trailhead
Park at the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout between mile markers 13 and 14. Head through a clearing at the back of the parking lot, and the trailhead to Waipoo Falls will be on your left.
For more hiking trails with dramatic views of both Waimea Canyon and the Na Pali coast, head further up Highway 550 to Kokee State Park. There are a wide range of trails here from long and strenuous to short and relatively flat. There is also the Kokee Lodge Restaurant and the Kokee Museum and Shop.
Choosing any of our south shore vacation rentals will put you in a great position for exploring Waipo’o Falls and Kauai’s west side, while still enjoying the convenience and beautiful beaches of the sunny south shore. With a variety of vacation rentals across the Garden Island, we offer a variety of options to suit your preferences. Please contact us at 800-215-9880 or firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions or check out our website for more information about where to stay and what to do on your Kauai vacation.
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