Exploring the Panoramic Views at Kokee State Park

By Coco Zickos
Photo: Ken-ichi Ueda.

Kokeʻe State Park.  Photo: Ken-ichi Ueda.

Koke‘e State Park offers sweeping views of some of the most gorgeous vistas on Kaua‘i. From the red chasms of Waimea Canyon State Park to the lush valleys of the Nā Pali Coast, you don’t want to miss taking a scenic tour of this pristine region of the Garden Isle.

Take the Road Through Waimea Canyon State Park to Reach Kokee State Park

Waimea Canyon. Photo: Pau Bica.

Waimea Canyon. Photo: Pau Bica.

To get here, take Kaumuali‘i Highway to Waimea Canyon Drive and follow the road up the steep incline until it intersects with Koke‘e Road. Continue on this road, and it will take you through Waimea Canyon State Park until reaching Koke‘e State Park at about mile marker 14. Stop and treat yourself to the many different landscapes along the way, including phenomenal views of Waipo‘o Falls plunging 800 feet into the ravine below—there are plenty of places to pull over and snap pictures. Just be aware of other drivers as you do so.

The Pinnacle of Kokee State Park is Puu o Kila Lookout

Puu O Kila Lookout. Photo: Steve Shupe.

Puu o Kila Lookout. Photo: Steve Shupe.

Once Koke‘e State Park begins, so do a plethora of more visual treats. The pinnacle, however, is at the end of the road after mile marker 18 where the clouds cling to your car and a crisp mist settles in the air. The lookout here, Pu‘u o Kila, offers one of the best perspectives of Kalalau, a Nā Pali Coast valley where native Hawaiians once resided. Elevated around 3,600 above sea level, you’ll get a bird’s eye view of this tropical beauty as its fluted peaks surround you in an epic embrace.

Hike the Enchanting Forests and Trails of Kokee State Park

Alakaʻi Swamp. Photo: keppet.

Alakai Swamp Trail. Photo: keppet.

You can experience even more hidden wonders of Koke‘e State Park by embarking on a hike. Enchanting forests dripping in native ferns and decorated with ‘ohia trees frequented by Hawaiian honeycreepers are part of this adventuresome allure.

Awaawapuhi Lookout. Photo: keppet.

Awaawapuhi Lookout. Photo: keppet.

If you’ve got strong legs, the Nuʻalolo Trail (between mile markers 15 and 16) or the ‘Awa‘awapuhi Trail (located at mile marker 17) are a perfect fit. These two trails, each more than six miles long, are deceivingly easy during the first leg but require a strenuous ascent on the way back. Still, the midway views are spectacular and perhaps some of the best the Nā Pali Coast has to offer.

Photo: Eli Duke.

Kokeʻe State Park. Photo: Eli Duke.

Even though you’ll need to fill your vehicle with a full tank of gas before journeying to this west side attraction, there is little doubt this trip is worth the time and effort.

Campgrounds at Kokee State Park. Photo: Eli Duke.

Campgrounds at Kokee State Park. Photo: Eli Duke.

Nearby Accommodations: Waimea Plantation Cottages

For a truly unique and authentic Hawaiian experience, enjoy a stay at Waimea Plantation Cottages. These quaint cottages are re-developed plantation homes from the Island’s agricultural era when sugar cane farming was the primary industry. Guests enjoy this relaxing and serene oceanfront experience, which is unlike any other in all of the Hawaiian Islands.

Visit Waimea Plantation Cottages

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