Part 1: Wiamea Canyon


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The Experience

Our flight to Lihue was quite easy, but every seat on the plane was full.  Despite the "cattle car" environment, it was not all that bad: 6 hours and we arrived in the middle of the afternoon.  Our first action was to get a rental car, then off to Costco for supplies.  Once we had our liquor and snacks, we headed out to our friend's place.

The Photos

The photos below are what we saw.

Sandee rents a small place in a rather rural area called Lawai which is in the southern part of the island.

We slept well and got up moderately early the next day.  I was more jet lagged than I expected but it was not an impediment.  After eating, we headed out to see Wiamea Canyon.

We rented a 4-door Jeep and it was more than acceptable in terms of comfort and handling.  The barn door on the rear provided easy access to our cargo.

Not far from Sandee's place, the road had an overlook that provided a nice view of a canyon on the southern flanks of the island's main mountain.  The valley floor was lush with vegetation.

We continued around the perimeter of the island until we got to Wiamea and then turned inland and proceeded up the mountain.  At a pull-out, we got a nice view of a small canyon where the erosion has exposed the multicolored volcanic tufa underneath.

Plenty of feral chickens on Kauai.  These yard birds were everywhere making noise and chasing each other around.  We were near a lookout point when we spotted this noisy fellow.

Our first good look at the falls of the Wiamea River.  The view was breathtaking, but not the best view of the canyon.

Further up the road we came to a better viewpoint that had sweeping views of the massive canyon.  On the far canyon wall, we could see Wiamea Falls.  The erosion had exposed layer upon layer of volcanic tufa rendered in subtle hues in the dappled sunlight.

While marveling at the scope of the canyon, I glanced down and spotted a goat well below the canyon rim seemingly not distracted by the danger of the steep terrain.

The broken clouds caused the lighting to vary from moment to moment revealing new patterns and textures in the canyon walls.

The central part of the canyon has many branches, many of them dry.  Only the main canyon carried water.

The photo above is a 5-shot panorama that encompasses about 120 degrees of view.

The girls went to a lower lookout to get a better view of the downstream portion of the canyon.

Sandee was nice enough to take a photo of us.

Another viewpoint further up the road provided a closer view of the falls.

We came upon these nice bikes at one of the lookout parking lots.

A view looking downstream in Wiamea Canyon.  The white dot on the right side is a huge bird that was soaring in the canyon.

From the overlook, we could see a trail on the crest of the far canyon wall.  There were folks over there seeking a better view of the canyon.

We continued to the top of the mountain to the final overlook point and came upon an air control radar operated as part of the Pacific Missile Range Facility.  PMRF has exclusive access to a big chunk of the west end of the island.

From the overlook, we got a stunning view of the cliffs leading down to the ocean.  The scene is right out of a postcard.

The canyon walls were incredibly steep with the lower canyon emptying right onto a secluded beach.

Moving to a slightly different viewpoint, we could see a set of waterfalls cascading down the far canyon walls.

Zooming in on the waterfalls, it was easy to see that these are very, very tall falls.

We heard noise from the canyon below and had to look hard to see a tourist helicopter working its way up the canyon.  This is a crop-of-a-zoom.

On our return to the beach we passed another good overlook for Wiamea Falls.

The falls are huge.

From the mountains in the center of the island, we returned to the beach area where we spotted these nice plumeria blooms.

Rio, Sandee and Kathleen

The volcanic sand beaches of Wiamea.

More nice plumeria blooms.

Near Wiamea the road runs right next to the ocean.  Large rocks have been placed to serve as a seawall, but the ocean is only a few feet below the top of the rocks.  The homeowners across the road are right on the beach, but in the event of a hurricane, they will be in harm's way.

Wiamea Canyon is very beautiful and if you are in the area, it is a "must see".  Next: a plantation railroad.

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Photos and Text Copyright Bill Caid 2016, all rights reserved.
For your enjoyment only, not for commercial use.