We last left each other in this series as Caitlin and I were going down for a quick nap at 5:30 PM that led to us sleeping through the night, waking up the next morning, dazed, a little confused, but pumped to get an early start on the day.
The plan was to head out to the opposite side of the island and hike the Grand Canyon of the Pacific – Waimea Canyon.
The Southwest part of the island seems to have more shipyards and docks. A lot of boat tours are launched from this area. As you move to the West side of the island, you’ll drive through the town of Waimea. Captain Cook landed here and “discovered” Kauai in 1778. The town has a sign and, going from memory, said something around “Kauai’s most historic town.”
Partway through the town of Waimea, you head east towards Waimea Canyon State Park.
I don’t know how to adequately prepare you for what you will see here. I have some pictures, but again, they don’t fully capture what is there.
As you drive through the State Park, there are several scenic overlooks that are literally breathtaking. This canyon is enormous with massive cliffs that fall away at severe angles. If you’re scared of heights as I am, you will get a severe form of butterflies in your stomach, and you’ll be death-gripping any rail nearby to keep you safe.
As mentioned earlier in the series, rain was a part of the previous day so the picture below doesn’t adequately portray this place with the clouds hiding the incredible beauty of this canyon.
We were the first car in the parking lot of the Waipoo Falls trailhead. You do need to pay per car and per person to park/hike here, and you do so at a pay station in the parking lot. I think it was $20 for the car and us two, plus tax, so about $23 and change. The machine prints out a receipt that you put on your dashboard to avoid a ticket or getting towed or something.
This hike is gorgeous. We did it last time we came here and were relatively familiar with where to go. The hike has some pretty slippery spots as it is usually wet and a little muddy. Remember those shoes I had from the last post? They were awesome here.
As you hike through some thick rainforest area, you pop out on a cliff.
Here’s a video of us on said cliff and a full rainbow.
Keep walking a bit further, and you come to a cute little waterfall.
This waterfall goes into a little pond, which leads to a small stream, which leads to this…
It is the nightmare of someone afraid of heights. I mean, you are standing inches away from a slip, slide, fall, die. It’s beautiful. It’s terrifying.
There is a trail visible on the other side of the falls. We later learned that it has been washed out and is no longer “active” due to its dangerous risk, the trail falling away down hundreds of feet cliffs, and flash floods. Not knowing this, we continued on.
We weaved in and out of this jungle-terrain and wandered onto incredible views.
As we were hiking along, it got pretty windy and rainclouds started barreling down on us like a freight train. On the outside, I was cool, calm, and collected… leading Caitlin through this jungle paradise with courage and charisma.
On the inside…
I was screaming so loud people.
I can barely keep my wits about me and I’m thinking, “I’m gonna die! I’m gonna die! I’m gonna die!”
Luckily, I gather composure and we finally duck into the safety of the mountain. We start wandering away from cliffs and through some super thick plant life. As I mentioned, this isn’t a trail people hike frequently, so my face, and arms, and legs, and hands are getting plastered by all kinds of freaky-deaky spider webs. I can’t see where I’m stepping. Flies and other bugs are welcoming us with open arms. And, I’m pretty sure wild boars and jaguars are stalking us to eat us.
They say jaguars aren’t on Kaua’i, but who are ‘they’?!
The jaguars are ‘they’ and ‘they’ told people that ‘they’ aren’t on Kaua’i so ‘they’ could sneak up on ME and eat ME.
Wandering this trail was actually reasonably pleasant, but pretty long. We happened upon a YMCA camp with some cool cabins that looked like a fun place to stay. There was an odd growth I noticed on a tree. I examined it in further detail after Caitlin had passed it.
It was a gutted pig.
Pig guts all over a tree.
I didn’t tell Caitlin because she had expressed her fear of wild hogs about 35 seconds earlier.
We ended up hiking somewhere in area of 7 miles total before we popped out on the main road that winds through Waimea State Park. It also happened to be right where the Kokee Lodge is nestled neatly in a little slice of paradise.
This place had a delicious diner with amazing food and smoothies. They had souvenirs and other knick knacks designed to pull at your sentimental side and take your money.
We were beat, so this place was like a miracle to us.
Here’s the view inside the diner:
There were a gazillion chickens that Caitlin tried to herd. It didn’t work out so well, but it made for some fun memories.
See how the chickens just completely ignore her?
Now she knows exactly how I felt in high school as I tried to get girls (including her) to notice me.
We hiked about a mile or so back up the main road. There isn’t a lot of room on the shoulder of the roads so Caitlin would judge drivers and the future of their eternal soul by how considerate they were of us – evidenced by their willingness to move over a bit so as to not kill us with their car.
If they didn’t move: No wave, and eternal damnation
If they moved a little: Head nod, but still eternal damnation
If they gave us enough room so we didn’t feel the wind against our cheek: Wave, but you’re going to hell.
If they were good people and went into oncoming traffic to avoid us: They are headed straight to heaven and, probably more importantly, Caitlin would throw the Shaka sign – the ultimate gift 🤙.
More breathtaking views
We made it back to our car and continued up the road, deeper into Waimea State Park (and back past the Kokee Lodge). At this point, you find yourself coming to the ends of the road.
The first is the Kalalau lookout.
Kalalau is where one of the most famous hiking trails in the world, ends. See the Day 5 post for more there.
This Kalalau coast is 4,000 feet below your cute little toesies at this lookout, where you are in the clouds looking down on one of the most magnificent scenes the eye can behold.
Well… 2nd most beautiful…
Here are some more pictures:
The second end of the road is the Pu’u lookout, which makes immature people like myself giggle every time we say it out loud.
Go ahead… Try it. Say Pu’u out loud right now.
If you’re human, at minimum you chuckled. Most likely, you snorted out whatever you were drinking while saying Pu’u and reading.
If you’re like me, you said it again and laughed again.
Pu’u… is further up the road and I guess it’s technically the only end of the road.
Here is a video from that lookout.
After I picked my jaw up from off the dirt, we headed back to our car.
I think now is as good a time as ever to mention parking.
Parking spots on this island are comically small. If you center your car in your stall, and the car next to you does the same, neither one of you can open your doors enough to get out of your car. Trust me. I tried one night. I had to climb through the window to get out, which is stupid, yet impressive that I still have the nimble athleticism to pull off such an advanced maneuver.
Maybe… MAYBE a Smart car would fit in one of these stalls, but the stall would make the Smart car appear like a Hummer.
Speaking of… I saw a few Hummers here and they must’ve taken over 5 spots rather than their usual 3. Not because they are that wide, but because anyone who drives a Hummer is probably a d-bag.
We, not being d-bags, had a Chevy Impala and look at this:
This is an empty parking lot, and these were the widest stalls on the island! The grocery store stalls… nope. Uh uh… don’t park next to someone if you plan on leaving your car at any time, because neither one of y’all are getting out.
Back to it
We drove back and revisited a beach we stopped at some 5 1/2 years ago. It was our first Hawaii beach ever, and it was the place where, an hour into our first trip to Hawaii, with Caitlin’s brand new phone, she got too close to the waves, got smacked with water, and her phone was trashed.
We had a much better experience this time. We wandered around until we got bored and headed back through the area with Da Crack where I could Da Shop for Da Clothes.
A local shop settled a decade-long debate between Caitlin and I on the pronunciation of Teva. You know, the hiking sandals. Let’s just say that the shop owner said he feels both ways are right. Teva like Evan and Teva like Teeva. But the Teva rep says Teeva, which is absurd and I think it is still wrong, and I’m right.
We came across a store called Deja Vu, and this is probably the most dangerous store I’ve ever entered. I felt like I needed, not just wanted, but NEEDED to have every single item they sold in this store.
The shirts were amazing. The hats, the shoes, the belts, the towels… I wanted everything. And then, I look over to Caitlin, and they have the most adorable, comfortable looking girls clothes on the planet! For Caitlin… not me. For some reason, I feel it’s important to clarify that.
We spent too much money buying clothes that were too amazing to leave on the shelves of Deja Vu and not on our bodies. We returned to Deja Vu on Days 6 and 7 as well…
We went back to our hotel and swam for a bit, sat in the hot tub for a bit, laid out for a bit, and then ate a bit at the Lava Lava Club. Caitlin ordered the pineapple chicken, which is chicken, rice, and pineapple… in a freakin’ pineapple! Yes, that’s right, the pineapple carcass is the bowl that holds your meal. Pretty sweet.
We watched the sun set and went back to our room to watch 3rd Rock from the Sun and drift off to sleep.
We needed our rest after hiking more than 9 miles today with the Kalalau Trail along the Na Pali coast waiting for us tomorrow…