While most people head to Kauai for sun and sand, hikers who head into the interior of the island will find themselves in one of the wettest places on Earth.
Mount Waialeale in the island’s interior receives an average of 450 inches of rain each year, which accounts for its lush vegetation and plentiful waterfalls.
It usually makes it onto lists of the world’s wettest spots, which include Mawsynram and Cherrapunji in Meghalaya, India; and Lloró, Colombia.
Located roughly in the center of the island of Kauai, the 5,140-foot peak is recommended only for experienced hikers. Hikers follow a rugged trail that begins at the end of State Highway 580 and leads to the base of the mountain.
The park is only a few miles farther up the highway from the crowded and popular overlooks of Waimea Canyon.
You can’t miss the Puu O Kila lookout because the road dead-ends at a parking lot. A fairly steep, paved ramp leads to scenic views down into Kalalau Valley, with the ocean-hugging Napali Coast beyond.
The lookout is the trailhead for the Pihea Trail, much of which consists of a boardwalk. It and connecting, posted trails afford outdoor enthusiasts little-visited sites.
Locals advise visiting the Puu O Kila lookout between 8 and 11 a.m. for the best views and less chance of rain.
Information about the trails is available at the Kokee Museum. The turnoff to it and Kokee Lodge is just beyond mile marker 15 on the highway. Campsites at the park cost $18 a night for out-of-state visitors.
Info: Kokee State Park, Kokee Road, State Highway 550, Kekaha