Hawaii 2012 - Day 3: Coffee - Waimea Canyon - Koke'e State Park
Kauai Travel Blog› entry 864 of 1090 › view all entries
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.
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.
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.
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).
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!