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Top 5 Kauai Scenic Spots
Verdant valleys, epic cliffs, plunging waterfalls, and majestic canyons are just a few of the features that you'll find on Kauai. You might almost get used to the stunning green mountains that jut out of the land as you drive from place to place—almost. There are countless places to stop and take in the view; here are some of our favorites. Just don't forget a camera.
Hanalei Valley Overlook
On the way to Hanalei (about 1,000 yards west of the Princeville Shopping Center), this pull-off provides views of Hanalei River winding its way through wet loi (taro patches) framed by jagged green mountains. If you're staying on the North Shore, don't just stop here once. The colors will change over the course of a day, or with the weather.
At the end of the road on the North Shore, Kee Beach is as close as you can get to the fabled cliffs of Bali Hai. Surrounded by palm and almond trees, this stretch of white-sand beach is a great spot for viewing sunsets. The Kalalau Trail begins here; if you're up for an uphill hike, the first quarter-mile or so of the trail takes you to a perch with views of both Kee and the misty cliffs of Napali.
Albatrosses, great frigate birds, and nene are just a few species among the thousands of seabirds that nest along the cliffs surrounding the Kilauea Lighthouse. This is the northernmost point on Kauai—in fact, it's the northernmost point in the main Hawaiian Islands. You'll get sweeping views of the North Shore here. If you hang around for a little while in winter, you're almost sure to see a whale pass by.
It would be tough to visit Kauai without seeing a waterfall; after rain it seems like every mountain is laced with white streaks of water. Opaekaa is one of our favorites because it's always running, rain or shine. Water from the mighty Wailua River falls more than 100 feet in a lush green setting. The lookout to the left before you reach the parking lot for the waterfall overlook takes in the scenic Wailua River Valley.
The oft-used term "breathtaking" does not do justice to your first glimpse of Waimea Canyon (sometimes called the Grand Canyon of the Pacific). Narrow waterfalls tumble thousands of feet to streams that cut through the rust-color volcanic soil. There are plenty of spots along Route 550 to stop and stare at the canyon's awesome beauty—we recommend using the designated lookouts; they have parking and restrooms. Impressive vistas don't stop at the rim of the canyon. Continue on to the end of the road to Kalalau Lookout for a view through the clouds of otherworldly Kalalau Valley.
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