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May 30, 2014 at 7:59 PM

Here’s a Kauai secret to keep for your next trip

The view into Kalalau Valley often involves waiting for wispy clouds to clear --  or you can be in a total whiteout. (photo by Barbara A. Cantwell)

The view into Kauai’s Kalalau Valley often involves waiting for wispy clouds to clear — or you can be in a total whiteout if you time it wrong. (photo by Barbara A. Cantwell)

Aloha from Kauai.

I’m in Hawaii for a week to do reporting for some future Seattle Times stories, and I already have a Kauai secret to share if you’re headed this way any time soon.

It has to do with timing your trip up the long, steep and winding road to one of the rainiest places on earth so that you can catch clear-enough skies to actually see the magnificent view down the Na Pali cliffs into the deep emerald cleft of the Kalalau Valley.

If you’ve seen the view before, you know the panorama of knife-edged ridges leading down to blueberry sea is worth the 1- to 2-hour drive from the hotel districts. And if you’ve done it before and found the top of the road cloaked in white-out clouds — as wet places can so often be — you’ll understand why timing is everything. (The one previous time I made the drive, it was cold, clammy and just about zero visibility up there, if you hadn’t guessed already.)

My Airbnb host in the east-island village of Anahola told me she has an unfailing record of helping her guests  choose a clear-view day to visit the Kalalau Lookout. The secret is — surprise, surprise — conferring with the National Weather Service.

I wouldn’t have guessed it, but the weather forecasts for Kauai are refined down to Windward (usually eastern) Kauai, Leeward (usually western) Kauai, and Kauai Mountains.

Just Google “Kauai Mountains forecast, National Weather Service,” and you’ll get a clue as to what’s going to happen at the top of Highway 550, the road to the view.

And morning is often calmer and clearer, so rising early to hit the road from Poipu or Kapaa is usually a good idea.

It worked for me today. Got to the top by 10:30 a.m. and got the amazing view and the pictures to prove it.

Comments | More in Hawaii, Trip reports | Topics: Hawaii, kalalau lookout, kalalau valley

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