Waimea Canyon on the island of Kaua’i is one of the quintessential natural sites of Hawaii. Nicknamed the Grand Canyon of the Pacific, Waimea is reminiscent of its Arizona cousin, just covered in carpets of lush green foliage. Waimea Canyon is mostly enclosed by Waimea Canyon State Park, which covers a little under a tenth of the island.
The area of Waimea Canyon was only sparsely inhabited in pre-European times. Kaua’i, and presumably the canyon, was discovered by Europeans in 1778 when James Cook explored the Hawaiian Islands.
Waimea Canyon is technically part canyon and part crater. It was formed by the combination of the collapse of part of the island’s volcanic crater several million years ago, along with erosion caused by the Waimea River. The canyon walls are a mix of bare red rocks in many places and thick green foliage in others.
Waimea Canyon State Park is the most visited natural site on the island of Kaua’i. Somewhat interconnected with Koke’e State Park, home to Kalalau Valley, the Waimea Canyon boasts some of the most beautiful and exotic sub-tropical landscapes in the United States. Despite this, because of its isolation (and the fact that Kaua’i is the least visited of Hawaii’s major islands), Waimea is one if the island chain’s most pristine destinations. Web: http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/dsp/parks/Kauai/waimea-canyon-state-park (official website).