View of the Napali Coast, Pu'u O Kila overlook, Waimea Canyon State Park, Koke'e State Park, Kauai, Hawaii

Getty Images

Kokeʻe State Park

Top choice in Waimea Canyon & the Westside

Besides the two Na Pali lookouts at the end of the paved highway, Koke‘e State Park is the starting point for almost 50 miles of outstanding hiking trails. Some lead to perilous clifftop eyries, others inland to the woods overlooking Waimea Canyon, and yet more into the Alaka‘i Swamp, home to Hawaii's largest surviving concentration of native bird species.

Not only is the swamp inhospitable to exotic species, but mosquitoes, which transmit avian diseases, have never thrived here thanks to its high elevation. Ancient Hawaiians never established a permanent settlement in these chilly highlands. They only ventured here to collect feathers from forest birds and cut koa trees for canoes, using a precipitous and long-vanished trail that ran down the mountain ridges into Kalalau Valley.

Lonely Planet's must-see attractions

Nearby Waimea Canyon & the Westside attractions

1. Waipo'o Falls

0.74 MILES

Although they're across on the far wall of the canyon, these 800ft falls cam be seen from several vantage points along Waimea Canyon Dr, including the Pu…

2. Pu’u Hinahina Lookout

1.07 MILES

The main viewpoint at this large lookout (elevation 3640ft) faces down the deep gorge carved by Waiahulu Stream as it races to join Waimea Canyon. Look…

3. Kumuwela Lookout

1.08 MILES

This overlook marks the end of the Canyon Trail. Enjoy epic canyon and waterfall views as you rest at the picnic table.

4. Koke‘e Natural History Museum

1.08 MILES

This two-room museum doubles as the visitor center for Koke‘e State Park. Helpful staff provide detailed current hiking advice, and sell useful, albeit…

5. Pu‘u Ka Pele Lookout

1.52 MILES

This canyon-edge lookout, across from a picnic area equipped with restrooms and drinking water, is a superb vantage point from which to admire the 800ft…

6. Waimea Canyon State Park

2.35 MILES

Of all Kaua‘i’s wonders, none can touch Waimea Canyon for grandeur. Few would expect the island to hold such a gargantuan abyss of lava rock; popularly…

7. Kalalau Lookout

2.63 MILES

Shortly before the end of the highway, the Kalalau Lookout commands a fabulous overview of Kalalau Valley, sweeping around its towering green-swathed…

8. Puʻu o Kila Lookout

2.84 MILES

A mile beyond the Kalalau Lookout, the paved park road dead-ends at the Pu‘u o Kila Lookout. The views of Kalalau Valley, plummeting 4000ft below, are…