Posted by: kerryl29 | November 4, 2019

Hawaii, Day 2: Exploring Waimea Canyon, etc.

As detailed elsewhere, Day 1 of my photo trip to Hawaii was a notably circumscribed experience.  Opportunities were so limited, in fact, that I didn’t have the chance to scout potential sunrise opportunities, beyond the spot that I had shot sunset on the previous day:  the beach adjacent to my hotel.  I made the (very) short walk out to Waipouli Beach in the gloom of dawn and was rewarded with a fairly nice sunrise…right up until it started to rain.

Waipouli Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

Waipouli Beach at Sunrise, Kauai, Hawaii

The rain put a damper (pun intended) on the morning shoot, and had the effect of shortening it.  When the rain stopped it was time to do some exploring of the island and I decided to make my way west toward Waimea Canyon.

The canyon, sometimes referred to as “the Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” is quite a sight.  I’d been there once before, but that was almost 40 years prior.  I had a vague memory of a couple of views from overlooks, but on this occasion I hoped to get a longer, better, more up-close-and personal view.

On the way to the access point to the road that leads up to the canyon from the town of Waimea, along the main highway (HI-50), I stopped at the Hanapepe Valley Lookout to make some images.  The valley was swathed in low clouds and fog.

Hanapepe Valley from Hanapepe Valley Lookout, Kauai, Hawaii

Hanapepe Valley from Hanapepe Valley Lookout Black & White, Kauai, Hawaii

Within 10 minutes, the low clouds moved off and changed the view completely.

Hanapepe Valley from Hanapepe Valley Lookout, Kauai, Hawaii

Hanapepe Valley from Hanapepe Valley Lookout, Kauai, Hawaii

This was a good, early experience.  At many locations I visited while in Hawaii, the weather could be incredibly variable, with completely obscured vistas occasionally being revealed in a matter of minutes.  (Of course, the reverse could be true as well.)

I reached Waimea Canyon Drive and began the long (more than 20 miles) climb (nearly 4000 feet of elevation gain) up toward the end of the road–which actually lies in Koke’e State Park, which borders Waimea Canyon to the north and east.  There are numerous peeks into the canyon along the way, both at official “lookouts” and at unofficial viewpoints.  There are also views in the direction of the island of Niihau, visible in the Pacific to the west.

Distant Niihau from Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

I began making stops early on and really never stopped until I made a hike into the canyon.  Along the way, countless interesting perspectives revealed themselves.

Waimea Canyon, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea River, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea River, Waimea Canyon, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea River, Waimea Canyon, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

From some of these viewpoints, semi-abstract images were available with the use of a long lens.

Light & Shadow, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Light & Shadow, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Along the way, I found a stream, with a small waterfall, that was cutting through a rather stark patch of Kauai’s (in)famous red dirt.

Red Clay Waterfall, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Red Clay Waterfall, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Red Clay Waterfall, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Eventually, I reached the Waimea Canyon Lookout, my favorite of the official park’s canyon viewpoints.  From here, the canyon’s tapestry of colors was in full evidence.

Waimea Canyon Lookout, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

The sky conditions left a bit to be desired at this point, but the canyon itself is pretty spectacular in just about any weather.

Waimea Canyon Lookout Black & White, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon Lookout, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Again, the telephoto lens came in very handy at this spot.

Waimea Canyon Lookout, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Waipo’o Falls, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon Lookout, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Waimea Canyon Lookout, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Back at the lookout parking area, I took a moment to snap a couple of shots of some of the ubiquitous feral chickens that are present all over the island of Kauai.  (I even saw several on the airport property!)

Rooster, Waimea Canyon Lookout, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

I moved on to the other official viewpoints, including the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout, which provides a winding glance up the entire canyon from the back end, all the way to the ocean in the distance.  It was windy at this spot, but I found the view compelling.

Pu’u Hinahina Lookout, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

This was the jumping off point for the Canyon Trail, which, including a modest side trip or two, involved a hike of about five miles round trip.  I felt it was worth it.  While I didn’t like the canyon views as interesting as those from the lookouts, particularly the Waimea Canyon Lookout, there were a couple of waterfalls near the one-way end of the trail that I wanted to see and photograph.  Reaching the vantage point to photograph the waterfall you see in the two below images was a bit of an adventure, as it required a tiny bit of rock scrambling, but I deemed it worth the effort.

Upper Tier of Waipo’o Falls, Canyon Trail, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Upper Tier of Waipo’o Falls, Canyon Trail, Waimea Canyon State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

When I completed the hike, I continued along the road, into Koke’e State Park, to the lookouts near and at the end of the road.  Both of these lookouts provide views of the spectacular Kalalau Valley, truly one of the remarkable views I’ve seen.  Once again, the conditions at the overlooks–particularly the Pu’u o Kila Lookout–were highly variable, with pockets of fog and low-flying clouds blowing in and out repeatedly.

Kalalau Valley from Pu’u o Kila Lookout, Koke’e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Kalalau Valley from Pu’u o Kila Lookout, Koke’e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

At one point, a rainbow was briefly visible in the upper valley; I was lucky enough to be in position to produce an image while the rainbow was in place.  Once again, waiting out the ever-changing conditions paid dividends.

Kalalau Valley from Pu’u o Kila Lookout, Koke’e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

From the Kalalau Lookout, a couple of miles back down the road, a different view of the valley was evident.

Kalalau Valley from Kalalau Lookout, Koke’e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Back at Pu’u o Kila, the Pihea Trail head beckons, in a stretch of very, very wet territory.  Mist and light drizzle was falling off and on and I made it about a mile down the trail before hitting an incredible, virtually impassable section of mud and turning back.  Still, the trail was bookended by several areas of thick ferns, which I hastened to capture.

Fern Extravaganza, Pihea Trail, Koke’e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Ferns, Pihea Trail, Koke’e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

It was mid-afternoon when I began the trek back down the canyon road and, after fighting through heavy traffic back toward the eastern end of the island, I made my way, in the early evening, toward the overlook for the Kilauea Point Lighthouse.  The lighthouse was closed for the day by the time I got there but I was treated to some very nice light as I captured the grounds from the bluff adjacent to the Kilaeua Point National Wildlife Refuge.

Kilauea Lighthouse, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii

Kilauea Lighthouse, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii

Kilauea Lighthouse, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii

Kilauea Lighthouse, Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, Kauai, Hawaii

Finally, I made my way all the way to the end of the road on the northeast part of the island:  Ke’e Beach at Ha’ena State Park.  On the way, I drove through multiple squalls of rain around the town of Hanalei.  I got there just minutes before the sun set, but it was enough time for me to make the half-mile one-way hike out to the beach from the parking area.  It wasn’t an epic sunset by any means, but I did make a few images of this entry point to the Na Pali Coast before losing the light entirely.

Na Pali Coast at Sunset from Ke’e Beach, Ha’ena State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Na Pali Coast at Sunset from Ke’e Beach, Ha’ena State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

The race to Ke’e Beach before last light was an attempt to preview the drive for the following morning as I planned to spend most, if not all, of the next day on this part of the island.  That plan was short-circuited by the first of this trip’s equipment problems, a story I’ll relate in the next post in this series.


Responses

  1. Stunning collection, Kerry.

    • Thanks, Jane!

  2. great pictures

    • Thanks very much!

  3. Great overview, thank you! When you go on a trip like this, do you have a project goal in mind (personal sale or freelance marketing for a particular magazine or online venue), or is your purpose more general for future content?

    • Thanks for the comment.

      In answer to your question, my only goal on photo trips is to maximize the photo opportunities. The photos are a reminder to me of the experience of being there. I’m fortunate that photography is nothing more than an opportunity to try and satisfy myself; *I* am the only person I’m shooting for. Any commercial success that results (and there’s rarely much, if any at all) is nothing more than a byproduct; it’s never a conscious intent.

  4. You have given a great variety of visual examples showing why so many people are hooked on this paradise with its amazing views of landscape, not just of the beaches.

    • Thanks very much, Jane!

  5. Beautiful.

  6. I had no idea Waimea Canyon exists (I am totally ignorant about Hawaii in general). It is beautiful. The waterfall in the red clay is a wonderful contrast to all of the green.

    • Thanks, Ellen. Waimea Canyon (and the adjoining Koke’e State Park) is a beautiful place–truly magnificent.

      Hawaii, more broadly, is a terrific photo destination. I think it tends to be overlooked because of its reputation as a glorified resort complex and the cost of attendance, but the truth is that there’s a seemingly endless amount of varied subject matter. There’s far more to Hawaii than beaches…though the beaches ARE outstanding. 🙂

  7. […] point of racing to Ke’e Beach at the tail end of Day 2 was to preview the early morning trip the following day.  My plan was to hike a segment of the […]


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