Kauai has so many natural wonders to explore, from the beaches to the Nāpali Coastline, and even Spouting Horn. But is the Waimea Canyon worth the drive with kids to take in the view from the lookout? I’m not sure I could answer this on my own so I pulled in a little help from some friends to see what they thought.
Claudia of the Travelling Mom says, “A trip to Waimea Canyon makes for a great day trip. The Canyon is a true natural wonder of Kauai, with great views towards Niihau and myriad hikes to explore within both Waimea Canyon and Koke’e State Parks. Take some time to explore the parks, pack a picnic lunch, and end your visit with a stop at Jojo’s Clubhouse in Waimea for some fabulous shave ice (great if incentive/bribes are necessary).”
As an outdoors enthusiast with a toddler in tow, Kate from Wild Tales Of thinks it’s a must. “We made it up to the Canyon Lookout (3400 ft), I think it’s absolutely worth the trek. The colors were amazing from the deep oranges to the lush green from the forested areas. On our way back down we stopped at a little cut-off to view a rainbow–beautiful! My husband particularly liked the drive up because he “felt like a race car driver”, however my stomach didn’t really agree!”
One of the great things about the canyon is that is shows a very different side to the island. “The view from the top over the canyons in Kauai is worth the effort even for little kids. They can see how these volcanic isles are so much more than just beaches and pineapples,” says Michelle from Wander Mom.
Shelley Rivoli from Travels with Baby wraps it up with these words of wisdom. “If you’d like to see it, absolutely go. You should just be aware that for very young children, the number of minutes he or she will contentedly stare into the canyon is likely to correspond directly with their age in years. For my youngest, this meant 3.17 minutes. So you can see the importance of having a larger plan–in fact, an entire day trip–in place for a successful visit to Waimea Canyon during your vacation in Kauai with kids.”
My own family had mixed feelings. My 3-year-old son thought the most exciting part of the canyon was the wild roosters and baby chicks we saw running around. The baby slept and fussed through most of the drive and walk around the lookout. We did head up past the lookout to the little museum they have, but there wasn’t much for kids; just an easy excuse to stop and use the restroom. Pack a picnic, plan a few stops at lookout points along the way, and don’t miss the waterfall through the red dirt as you drive up to the lookout. The view over the valley and ocean is spectacular, and those tiny waterfalls sure look cool.