First Look at Kauai
Late in the morning, we flew to Kauai to spend the last few days of our trip on the “Garden Island.” After we landed, we picked up our rental car and our first destination on the island was Waimea Canyon, known as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” on the western side of the island. While it is a grand canyon, it doesn’t have the same look as THE Grand Canyon with its layers of sentimentary rock and a palette of many colors. There are two canyon formations here with predominantly three colors: brown, green, and red. The northwest side of the canyon contains Waipoo Falls, a two-tiered falls with an 800-foot drop that can be seen from a couple of roadside overlooks.
When driving north on Highway 550, overlooks of Waimea Canyon are on the right (facing east). There are a couple of places to stop further north with overlooks to the west. The first one we got to was Kalalau Lookout. It was our first look at the Napali coast, which is known for its jagged ridges and deep valleys. We went to another lookout that was supposed to provide an even better view of the Napali coast. It’s a mile further east and “can” provide a wider view of the valley than you get from Kalalau Lookout. But when we got there, the only thing we could see was clouds. We left Waimea Canyon to see if we could get to a beach for sunset.
By the time we got to Shipwreck’s Beach (named after an old wooden shipwreck that was partially buried in the sand above the waterline), the sun was already setting over some condos, which wasn’t a really photogenic scene. Looking to the southeast was also a nice view, with the southeastern sky catching the last rays of sun. The Cliff at Shipwreck’s Beach is a solidified sand dune and is 35 to 40 feet high, fluctuating somewhat with the tides. People frequently jump from it to the ocean below. With the light giving out on us, we found our way back to the car and packed up. As he was getting in the car, Dan turned around, quickly opened the back door to get his camera out again, and photographed the final light on the ocean with the palm trees in the foreground.
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