From LAX, United, American and Delta offer nonstop service, and US Airways, United and Hawaiian offer connecting service (change of plane) to Lihue Airport on Kauai. Restricted round-trip fares begin at $528. Waimea Canyon State Park is about 30 miles from Lihue Airport. Allow an hour for travel. Waipoo Falls can be viewed in its silvery double-drop entirety from various viewpoints along the park's main road.
Several guidebooks suggest driving down the graded access road to the Waipoo Falls trailhead, but local guide Micco Godinez, of Kayak Kauai, advises against it, preferring to hike down with clients. "I've been in there when it started to rain, and I sweated it," he says, and he drives a four-wheel-drive truck. Parking is available on the side of the road near Milepost 14 on Hawaii 550, across from a government missile-tracking facility.
This is an out-and-back hike of about five miles that drops 600 to 700 feet in elevation. It's an easy jaunt for those who know how various machines in the gym work. For those of us packing a few pounds, let's call it moderate. Allow several hours, including gawking.
WHAT TO TAKE
People hike in everything from flip-flops to hiking boots. Closed-toe footwear, such as river sandals, are best. Walking sticks are not necessary but helpful. Wear a swimsuit if you want to cool off in the pool or stream. Carry water.
TO LEARN MORE
http://www.hawaiistateparks.org, (808) 274-3444