The jeep was packed and the tank was full, stunning Na Pali views and adventure were on our agenda. We headed to Kauai’s west side near Waimea Canyon and Kokee State Park. Most people who have been here agree; experiencing this natural wonder should be on every Hawaii Vacation bucket list. Rain splashed on our windshield but we didn’t care; as we say in Kauai, “You don’t like the weather? Wait five minutes.”

Be careful at Milolii Vista, there have been numerous fatalities due to the loose dirt and steep cliffs.

We filled our tummies at the Kalaheo Cafe, about 45 minutes South of Kokee State Park. The night before had been a late one so I ordered the Morning Madness with four shots of espresso! Eggs Benedict and hash browns for me and a meat loaded omelet for my husband. We grabbed a flakey cinnamon knuckle and moist brownie for later on.

Right off highway 550, just before mile marker 14, is Puu Hinahina Lookout and I was glad to see a restroom. This overlook is a quickie and great for any traveler who can’t walk far. The rain had stopped and paved walkways afforded a dramatic view of Waimea Canyon, its bowl filled with mist.

The Waimea River snakes through the canyon as rain moves in.

Continuing up 550 we made a left onto Makaha Ridge Road, about a quarter mile later. Look carefully because the road is not marked. It is a well-maintained narrow, paved road carved into the jungle with picnic tables tucked along the side.

About four miles in, at the end of the road is a guard station. Turn around and go about a quarter mile back, there will be a large, red embankment on the left; park on the right. This is Milolii Vista. A quick climb up crumbly dirt reveals a stunning view of the Na Pali coast where steep, vertical cliffs pour into the ocean.

Continuing on Makaha Ridge Road, about a half mile back, is a hair-pin right turn. This four wheel drive road leads to Makaha Arboretum. The bumpy, dirt road cuts through the forest for over three miles before it dead ends at a campsite.

Covered picnic tables with a view of the ocean; trash cans and a fire pit. An excellent place to stop for lunch. Next time I’ll spend the afternoon listening to birdsong and looking at the ocean or reading a chapter from my book. Maybe I’ll take a nap before heading back home.

Make sure you have a four wheel drive vehicle if you want to tackle Makaha Arboretum, a gorgeous place for an afternoon picnic.

Photos by Dan Lane..

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