Marvel at the scenic valley and its ridges that extend to the ocean. Hike through one of the world’s wettest terrains.
The Pu’u O Kila Lookout offers a spectacular vista of the lush green Kalalau Valley and the teal blue ocean. It also overlooks the Alakai Swamp, which is the highest swamp in the world and is flanked by picturesque mountainous ridges. Bring your camera for postcard-pretty photos of this scenic view.
Arrive on a clear day for bright, blue skies and an unobstructed view of the valley and the water. Note how the appearance of the valley changes throughout the day as clouds pass through. The sky tends to be clearer in the morning, with thick clouds moving in by evening.
Stand on the edge of the viewpoint’s brown mound atop the cliff and consider the sheer size of the enormous valley. Take extra care on the edge, as the valley floor is a long way down.
Look east toward the Alakai Swamp, a mix of rain forest and bog. It is one of the wettest places on Earth and is often covered in a shroud of mist. Embark on the 7-mile (11-kilometer) round-trip Alakai Swamp Trail for an exceptional experience walking through the brooding fog. Another invigorating route is the Pihea Trail, which goes around the Kalalau Valley before reaching the Alakai Swamp.
Explore the twisting paths and forests of the rest of Koke’e State Park, where you can camp or do a day hike. The park is mostly at an elevation of 3,600 feet (1,100 meters) above sea level. Snap photos at its other vista points, such as the Waimea Canyon Lookout, the Pu’u Hinahina Lookout and the Kalalau Lookout.
The Pu’u O Kila Lookout is in Koke’e State Park in the northwestern part of the island of Kauai, but access is from the southern side of the island. Drive north on the scenic winding road through Waimea Canyon from Waimea for about 45 minutes to get here. Visit other interesting nearby sights, such as the Puu Ka Pele Forest Reserve and Na Pali-Kona Forest Reserve. Hike to the Hono’Onapali Natural Reserve Area.