The beauty of Kauai is the mystery of it all. Weather, landmarks and beaches can change from one short drive to another, making the entire island a must-see in order to take in everything that is Kauai.
Waimea Canyon is the fascinating “Grand Canyon of the Pacific.” The canyon can be seen from Highway 550 on route to Kokee State Park, but it’s a good idea to park and make the short trek to the viewing area. Waimea Canyon is 10 miles long and 3,000 feet deep. The canyon, and everyone who stops to take in the beauty, can thank the Waimea River for its deep chasms. As the river rose from rain dropped on Mt. Waialeale (one of the wettest places on earth) deep incisions were cut into the land. Hiking trails wind through the canyon, including one to the 800-foot Waipoo Falls. While the view from the top is surrounded by a dry desert-like atmosphere, the canyon winds through lush vegetation.
Menehune Ditch is an ancient aqueduct from the 13th century and still channels water to irrigate taro fields. Viewing the ditch is pretty cool, but it is even better if you do it knowing the lore behind it. Little people known as the Menehune created the irrigation system for their princess . . . in one night. However long it took, the workmanship is commendable and the fact that it still serves as an irrigation system, on its own, is amazing.
Another legend of Kauai revolves around the Spouting Horn located off Lawai Road. In ancient times, it is said, a giant female dragon terrorized the south side of the island. When a brave fisherman decided to fish at Spouting Horn, the dragon attacked, only to be speared in the mouth and trapped forever in a lava tube. The legend is believable when you hear the ‘breath’ of the dragon as the water is sucked away and then back into the tube, shooting it up into the air.
Reaching the end of the road in Kauai is not hard to do. Highway 560, which is a landmark in itself for the beautiful view it offers along the coast of the North Shore, ends at Kee Beach. The beach is the perfect spot for snorkeling or relaxing, offering lagoon and shallow reefs. If relaxing is not on the agenda, turn to the left before Kee Beach and start hiking up the Kalalua Trail. The trail is 11 miles round-trip and provides some of the most beautiful views you will see on the island – but at a price. The trail can be tricky for most, and really hard for some. For a shorter hike, travel four miles round trip to Hanakapiai Valley where you will cross a river, find a stunning white-sand beach and view the ridges of the Na Pali Coast.