Last updated: 11:00 PM ET, Tue May 12 2015

Opinion Home | Far-Sighted Field Notes

  • Rosalind Cummings-Yeates | May 12, 2015 11:00 PM ET

    The Surreal Beauty of Waimea Canyon

    The Surreal Beauty of Waimea Canyon

    I believe that the closest place to heaven is in Kauai's Waimea Canyon. The earth fissure unfolds with such dazzling beauty that it literally snatches your breath away. As the “Garden Isle” of Hawaii, Kauai itself is a drop-dead gorgeous place filled with unreal vistas, but I still wasn't prepared for Waimea Canyon's striking landscape.

    It was a long, hour drive from the South Side of Kauai to the West Side, where the canyon stretches 14 miles long, one mile wide, and 3,600 feet deep. I  was totally thrown off guard when I faced the panoramas of crags and valley gorges, washed in shades of emerald and russet. They don't call it the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" for nothing. Much more than a scenic wonder, Waimea was carved  thousands of years ago by water from rivers that flowed down from the summit of Mount Waialeale. Considered one of the wettest places on Earth, the area collects 466 inches of rain a year.

    From the first lookout, I spotted so many different angles where the valley looked like it was embracing me in its sprawling geological design. These distinctive lines were created from volcanic eruptions and lava burning into the rocks over several centuries.

    Hiking trails run all the way through the canyon for 45 miles, and you can also take a driving tour. Be aware that the trails can be a bit treacherous, with white crosses dotting the edge of cliffs where hikers have faced a tragic end. Driving is much easier, the only issues are dodging the inevitable crowds.   

    I discovered that the best viewpoints are the Waimea Canyon lookout on Highway 550, which offers all encompassing vistas on clear days in early morning, Pu'u ka pele at about 12-and-a-half miles, and Puu Hinahina at the 13-mile point.

    I snapped photos from different positions and levels, and each revealed a view I hadn't seen before. There really isn't much chance of taking bad canyon photos unless you get fog or clouds. I'm told that our group was very lucky to get a clear day, because rain is inevitable on Kauai.? The views were almost too much to absorb. Every angle offered another perspective, every direction provided more beauty. The spiritual energy, as can be expected, was quite high and I actually became a little dizzy. I now completely understand the phrase, "dizzy with wonder."

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Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Far-Sighted Field Notes

Rosalind Cummings-Yeates Rosalind Cummings-Yeates is a journalist, author and blogger who specializes in travel and culture topics. She loves guiding readers through the richness of various cultures and discovering the essence of a destination. Her travel and culture blog, Farsighted Fly Girl, offers travel insights through the music, food, art and history of various countries and cultures. Join her on the journey at www.Rosalindcummingsyeates.
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