Saturday, December 18, 2010

Hawaii Trip (Day 5) Waimea Canyon Tour

Sadly we left the NaPali coastline beach as it was truly a magnificent place.  As we drove away we knew that another trip to the island certainly was in our future as we needed to spend time on this beautiful beach just basking in all its beauty.  If you recall we orginally planned a guided tour up the Waimea Canyon but opted out so that we could drive up and tour around at our own pace.  My husband knows that I am not the most brave passenger when faced with winding roads and steep drop offs which happened to be in my line of vision.   We drove east towards Waimea looking for our turn onto route 550, this is the canyon road we were looking for.

Via: Hawaii Fun Tours

It doesn't take route 550 long to begin its ascent up into the hills from ocean level.   Within a mile, still in the residental area, we took a sharp left then right as we started climbing up the canyon road.  As soon as the initial switch back ends you start getting sweeping views to your right as you drive atop one of the mound like hills that begins the canyon.

The ocean can be seen top right, off in the distance.  The road traveled atop the ridge on hill in the top right of the photo. 
At first the drive was like the rest of the island with lots of greenery but soon it appeared moon like as we passed an area with little to no vegetation with a little stream working its way through the mars like soil.  You can see this in the beginning of this video.

As we climbed higher my nerves were certainly put to the test, my husband wanted me to take a driving video on the way up the canyon but I wasn't comfortable enough to look through a viewfinder into the abyss.  That wasn't an option for me so the video we have on the way up would be taken at the pull over stops.

One of the initial views shows the hills shaped like mounds that have been slowly eroded by time and water.
 The multiple pullover stops along the way is a very nice way to get out to really look and enjoy the peacefulness of the area.  The first pull off is the Waimea Canyon Lookout, it is a short walk from the parking area to the multilevel viewing area.  When we visited there were a number of local vendors selling fruit and cold beverages, we had packed a lunch from the market in Waimea.  The views from this first stop were absolutely beautiful, it was a drier time of the year otherwise we there would have been a multitude of waterfalls both here and at our second stop at Waipo'o Falls overlook.

After spending copious amounts of time at each overlook we pressed on towards the end of the drive to the Koke'e State Park Lookout for views of the magnificent NaPali Coastline from high above.   I can't describe with words how breathtaking the overlook view is, enough to say that jagged mountains framing the ocean seen so far below is completely awe inspiring, I seem to recall a tear or two. While watching the waves lapping the shore off in the distance you see what appears to be a small bird, looking closer you can see that it is a far off helicopter tour. 

As you can imagine, standing almost a mile above the coastline the air becomes a bit more brisk yet crisp and clear as you look down upon the Kalalau Valley.  From this point there a so many trail that I wished I could have had the time to explore.  One that I hope to take on my next visit would be the Alaka'i Swamp Trail, this is the highest swamp in the world with a completely different view point.

(This is the continuation of the Hawaiian trip we took in February of 2010)

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