West Kauai is described as the intermingling of natural wonders and Hawaiian educational landmarks. There are many historical sites visit and cultural activities to explore here. That said, you may want to book your tours and complete vacation plans several weeks before the trip to the western side of Kauai. Here is a list of the places you should definitely explore while on vacation in this part of the island.
Don’t forget to jot down this place in your list of sites to explore in the western side of Kauai. Waimea is a very historical place, where the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific" is situated. The Canyon actually measures 10 miles long and 1 mile wide, while its depth is more than 3,500 feet. It was formed thousands of years ago by rivers and floods that flowed from Mount Waialeale's peak. The lines in the canyon walls indicate the various volcanic eruptions and lava flow it has experienced over the centuries.
This is a great place for sightseeing because of its astonishing panorama. The only problem is that along the 40-mile Waimea Canyon Road, it's difficult to find a gasoline station. Therefore, it’s important for you to fill up your gas tank before embarking on this trip. If it’s your first time to go to the Waimea Canyon, take Highway 50 west from Hanapepe toward Waimea, and you’ll find it just right just past Mile Marker #23.
The sight of the ocean and the road along the canyon’s western wall presents a view of shimmering streams and sugar canes planted on the hillsides. It’s best to come during the morning and feast on the lunch wagon served at the Waimea Canyon Lookout.
The Grand Canyon shares with its admirers a magnificent panorama of its own island personality. The Canyon just can’t help but exude its splendor. A diverse flora abounds in it including the yellow ginger, some eucalyptus trees, Kauai's own mokihana berries, and other plant species scattered on the 3,500-ft. elevation. The Waimea Canyon is a sight to behold that no one should dare miss.
The Captain Cook Monument
You can also find in Waimea the Captain Cook Monument, where British Captain James Cook first landed sometime in 1778. The Hawaiians treated Cook like a god, showering him with gifts and bestowing spiritual ceremonies in his honor. And when he returned, Captain James Cook toured the natives on his ships, accompanied by entertaining violin and flute concert, which fascinated the Hawaiian locals so much.
From this site, make it a point to also visit the Kealakekua Bay, which is a traditionally sacred site for the ancient Hawaiians. It will surely be much of a historical and cultural trip.
Polihale State Park
Before you get to the Polihale State Park, you definitely have to earn it. To set foot on this park is like having undergone a strenuous activity because of the rocky and unpaved road you have to go through before you will reach Polihale State Park. But this is no reason to be discouraged. The breathtaking sites will surely compensate for all your efforts. Instead of rushing to the site, why not go about it on a leisurely pace? This will surely take out some stress.
Once you've reached your destination, you will certainly enjoy gazing at one of the longest stretch of golden beaches where tourists sunbathing under the glare of the sun are found. Bounded by etched cliffs, blue sky, and spattering waves, it is no waste of time just staying there, getting mesmerized with the splendor of nature.
Kokee State Park
One of the most stunning and famous views in West Kauai is the Kalalau Valley, which is located at the end of the road in Kokee State Park. It is known to reveal a breathtaking waterfall, green pleated cliffs, and deep carved valley. The canyon is protected by the Koke'e State Park, which covers 4,345 acres of land and has 45 miles of trails that run through the canyon.
It is usually foggy in this area that is why hikers should choose to begin hiking with a trip to both Kalalau Lookout and the Puu okila Lookout. All park trails can sometimes be so muddy and slippery after heavy rains, which are quite common during winter months. So before you go hiking, always check first with the Natural History Museum for current advice on hiking trails. Also, get from the museum your personal maps of hiking trails, guided hikes, and forest workshops. Also, you may want to talk to the coordinator before you set foot on hiking. Go to the Ranger's Station, located at the Kokee Museum.
The best time to view the Kalalau valley is very early in the morning.
Located along the banks of the Koula River, squeezed by Eleele and Kaumakani, Hanapepe was once in its lifetime considered Kauai’s largest community. It is a historical place in West Kauai, with its century-old buildings looking so real, making the town of Hanapepe a favorite choice of film producers and directors.
Motion pictures such as “The Thornbirds” and “Flight of the Intruder" were set in this town that are known for its fine art works and galleries. Less than 10 art galleries of Hanapepe are listed among the gift shops and restaurants within the area. It is actually in the Hanapepe Valley Lookout that Steven Spielberg’s “Jurassic Park” was filmed.
Come and discover Hanapepe Town's country charm. A trip to this town would mean historical education on your end, matched well with the actual Hanapepe Valley experience that reveals the magnificent beauty of a Hawaiian Valley. Aside from the manmade Hanapepe swinging foot bridge, you'll surely marvel at its thriving colors with a splash of green from its verdant surroundings, blue sky from above, and glimmering effect of the sun rays.
Salt Pond Beach Park
Visitors who have traveled to this part of Kauai describe Hanapepe as a glimpse of days gone by, particularly with the ancient Hawaiian salt pond near Hanapepe. The Salt Pond Beach Park is not just a crescent beach of white sands that is partially protected by a reef, but also a meeting place for swimming lovers in the west side of Kauai.
Worry no more about your kids swimming because it is a very safe in this beach the whole year round. Because of that, you do not need to be worried about your schedules, too. Camping is also allowed here, but only if you will present a County Permit, saying that you are allowed to do camping in the site.
Truly, the Salt Pond Beach is an awesome sight to behold. The waters look so inviting and relaxing. Its white sand spread on the ground, with the sun shimmering on it, making it look so golden and so beautiful to gaze at. Not only that, white sand beaches are also perfect for swimming and sunbathing.
The locals would share that their ancestors, and all Hawaiian families for that matter, have evaporated seawater in pans (which are dug out of red soil). This is how they produce natural sea salt during summer time. Then they bag the salt and use them for cooking and medicinal purposes. This practice has been observed from one generation to another. So when you chance upon visiting the park and see some saltmakers working the ponds, do not be surprised, you already know why.
Still not convinced? Don't take anybody's word for it. Go see for yourself what West Kauai has to offer for impassioned travelers like you.