Hawaii 2012 - Day 3: Coffee - Waimea Canyon - Koke'e State Park

Kauai Travel Blog

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The deteriorating Aloha Theater in Hanapepe

We had carefully planned today's activities. After yesterday's very relaxed day we had allowed ourselves a bit more action, yet, with still a lot of car sightseeing.

We headed west again and went farther than yesterday to have breakfast at the site of the Kaua'i Coffee Plantation. The Kaua'i Coffee Plantation used to be the McBryde Sugar Company, one of the first sugar growers in Hawaii. Founded in 1800 they ceased operations in 1987 when cane sugar was not a profitable commodity anymore. Production shifted to coffee. And coffee it still is nowadays.

The Kaua'i Coffee Plantation runs the site in a very sympathetic and environmental responsible way. They have a small gift shop and offer a free self guided tour on their grounds.

Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from west rim)
The gift shop is located in some old laborer's houses that stand amidst the lush green coffee bushes. Very authentic and a feast to the eye. 

We went along via the old village of Hanapepe were we admired an old (and decaying) Art Deco ghost theater, the Aloha Theater and its neighboring Talk Story Bookstore the most western bookstore in the United States. In the village of Waimea we gazed at another Art Deco theater, the Waimea Theater, which is fortunately in a better, still operating, shape.

This was all just the "appetizer", the "main course" for today would be a drive up into the mountains to the Waimea Canyon State Park and the Koke'e State Park.

View on the Kalalau Valley from the Koke'e State Park
Both parks are bordering and can be conveniently combined. The first is home to the Waimea Canyon, the Grand Canyon of the Pacific.

Although the Waimea Canyon is "just" 16 km (10 miles) long (vs. 446 km (277 miles) and only half as deep (900 meters / 3000 feet vs. 1800 meters / 6000 feet) it can absolutely compete with its bigger colleague in the state of Arizona. A much bigger difference with the continental canyon, however, is its origin. Unlike the Colorado River did to the Grand Canyon, the Waimea Canyon was NOT mainly carved out by a river. It was shaped when Kaua'i's original Volcano Wai'ale'ale collapsed into a vault line. The gap that was created was refilled by new lava which was eroded by the abundant streams of water that flow down from the very wet peaks of Kaua'i's mountain ranges.

Clouds are passing by at the Kalalau Valley. Seen from the Pihea Lookout trail
Because of this the west rim of the Canyon is completely different from the East Rim. The west rim is steep and has black lava, the east rim is washed out en the water has oxidized the iron in the lava, giving the rim its spectacular reddish color.

Koke'e State park is a geological gem by itself. The park itself is actually located on the north shore. Giant land slides in combination with, again, the grinding powers of the many brooks, streams and rivers in that area has dug huge notches and valleys in the volcano, giving Kaua'i, the oldest island, its distinctive, but beautiful "wrinkles". The area was once the home for many native Hawaiian. Much of the grounds is still considered sacred. The Kalalau Valley is the most prominent valley and can be seen from the Park. Access is only possible by helicopter, kayak, or via a hike in on the Kalalau Trail (see blog of the 14th!) See the ad hoc Luau filmed by Stephan van Gessel here (and ignore the background noise).

Kalalau Valley seen from the Pihea Lookout trail

Both the Waimea Canyon rim and the Koke'e Valley outlook are located at a high altitude (almost 1300 meters (4250 ft). Waimea village is located at the ocean front, so our car had to climb a lot on the 30-km (19-mile) long road into the parks. We stopped at numerous viewpoints and look outs. At a prominent lookout in Koke'e we spotted a group Hawaiian dancers. Who were accompanied by a Hawaiian lady who sang and played the drums. So much more genuine than the commercial luaus performed in the touristy hotels!

After a whole day in (and out) the car we felt we needed some exercise, so at the end of the park road we decided to make a hike on the Pihea Lookout trail. This super cool trail follows the rim of the Kalalau Valley to the 1306-meter (4285 ft) high Pihea point. We where here at the end of the day and got to see the stunning valley with all kinds of light, sometimes covered in some clouds. The hike was perfectly timed, we reached the car when it got dark.

MANY more pictures below! 

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The deteriorating Aloha Theater in…
The deteriorating Aloha Theater i…
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from …
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from…
View on the Kalalau Valley from th…
View on the Kalalau Valley from t…
Clouds are passing by at the Kalal…
Clouds are passing by at the Kala…
Kalalau Valley seen from the Pihea…
Kalalau Valley seen from the Pihe…
A coffee grinder in the Kauai Cof…
A coffee grinder in the Kaua'i Co…
The visitors center at the Kauai …
The visitors center at the Kaua'i…
Coffee bushes in the Kauai Coffee…
Coffee bushes in the Kaua'i Coffe…
Garden of the Kauai Coffee Planta…
Garden of the Kaua'i Coffee Plant…
Garden of the Kauai Coffee Planta…
Garden of the Kaua'i Coffee Plant…
Garden of the Kauai Coffee Planta…
Garden of the Kaua'i Coffee Plant…
Garden of the Kauai Coffee Planta…
Garden of the Kaua'i Coffee Plant…
Garden of the Kauai Coffee Planta…
Garden of the Kaua'i Coffee Plant…
Garden of the Kauai Coffee Planta…
Garden of the Kaua'i Coffee Plant…
Coffee berries in the Kauai Coffe…
Coffee berries in the Kaua'i Coff…
Coffee berries in the Kauai Coffe…
Coffee berries in the Kaua'i Coff…
Raw coffee beans being dried in th…
Raw coffee beans being dried in t…
The deteriorating Aloha Theater in…
The deteriorating Aloha Theater i…
The Aloha Theater anno 1950 and 20…
The Aloha Theater anno 1950 and 2…
The westernmost book store in the …
The westernmost book store in the…
The Waimea Theater in Waimea (Kaua…
The Waimea Theater in Waimea (Kau…
The Waimea Theater in Waimea (Kaua…
The Waimea Theater in Waimea (Kau…
The Waimea Theater in Waimea (Kaua…
The Waimea Theater in Waimea (Kau…
While driving up to the Waimea Can…
While driving up to the Waimea Ca…
While driving up to the Waimea Can…
While driving up to the Waimea Ca…
While driving up to the Waimea Can…
While driving up to the Waimea Ca…
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from …
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from…
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from …
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from…
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from …
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from…
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from …
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from…
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from …
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from…
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from …
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from…
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from …
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from…
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from …
Waimea Canyon (East rim seen from…
Waimea Canyon (The red east rim on…
Waimea Canyon (The red east rim o…
Just like in the Grand Canyon!
Just like in the Grand Canyon!
Local fauna in the Waimea Canyon
Local fauna in the Waimea Canyon
View on the Kalalau Valley from th…
View on the Kalalau Valley from t…
Kokee State Park
Koke'e State Park
Clouds are passing by at the Kalal…
Clouds are passing by at the Kala…
Clouds are passing by at the Kalal…
Clouds are passing by at the Kala…
Kalalau Valley seen from the Pihea…
Kalalau Valley seen from the Pihe…
Clouds are passing by at the Kalal…
Clouds are passing by at the Kala…
Clouds are passing by at the Kalal…
Clouds are passing by at the Kala…
Kalalau Valley seen from the Pihea…
Kalalau Valley seen from the Pihe…
Kalalau Valley seen from the Pihea…
Kalalau Valley seen from the Pihe…
Clouds are passing by at the Kalal…
Clouds are passing by at the Kala…
Clouds are passing by at the Kalal…
Clouds are passing by at the Kala…
Clouds are passing by at the Kalal…
Clouds are passing by at the Kala…
Clouds are passing by at the Kalal…
Clouds are passing by at the Kala…
The Pihea Lookout Trail (rendered …
The Pihea Lookout Trail (rendered…
The Pihea Lookout Trail, height pr…
The Pihea Lookout Trail, height p…
Kauai
photo by: hauteboy