You’ve decided to propose marriage to your girlfriend in the most beautiful place on earth — by a Waimea Canyon waterfall on the garden isle of Kauai. You fly into Lihue, rent a Jeep and soon check into your romantic villa at Koloa Landing Resort on the sunny South Shore.

The rooms are beautifully appointed, your private lanai is huge and the gourmet kitchen has been pre-stocked with tropical fruit, wine, and local coffee. Later when your sweetheart wanders off to unwind in a yoga class on the main lawn, you pull a tiny black velvet box from your carry on, run around the villa like a goof in search of the safe, then fumble, all-thumbs, with the lock before finally slipping the treasure inside and clicking the safe shut. You take a breath and try to act natural.

You decide it prudent to do the deed on the last full day of your trip, because if she says “no” it will ruin less of your vacation. You’ve been on Waimea Canyon hikes before — even a Waimea Canyon bike tour — but this will be her first time there. Your hope is that she’ll be so swept away by the majestic panoramas, so taken with the spectacular beauty of this miraculous planet you both inhabit that she’ll be dreamily susceptible to your suggestion that you spend the rest of your lives together. At the very least she’ll think you’re a rock star for showing her, her first Waimea Canyon sunset.

The big day . . .

When hike day arrives, you have everything in order. Your Jeep is fueled, GPS is cued up, sunscreen is applied, the camera is charged, and you have plenty of extra water and protein-rich snacks. (No one commits to “forever” when they’re hangry. And you know from past experience that she gets ‘hangry’ pretty easily.) Little does she know that you just giddily shoved a custom-designed diamond engagement ring deep into your cargo shorts pocket. You both secure your baseball caps and head out.

Your Waimea Canyon drive is an easy shot up the coast from Koloa Landing:  You take Highway 50 to Highway 550. You pull over again and again at the small Waimea Canyon lookouts along the way, taking in the breathtaking valley beyond with its vibrant red, caramel and green striations. Back on the road, you attempt to wow your girl with your vast literary knowledge by announcing that Mark Twain famously called Waimea Canyon the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” when he visited it in 1866. Phone in hand, she corrects you that this is a long-standing myth debunked by scholars who show that not only had Mark Twain never set foot on the island of Kauai (he spent time on Maui), but the Grand Canyon itself wasn’t even given its name until American explorer John Wesley Powell dubbed it such in 1869.

Man, she’s attractive when she gets educational, you think. You start fantasizing about how brilliant your offspring will be and nearly miss your turn off.

Waimea Canyon delivers . . .

You walk out together to the head of the Waimea Canyon trails and pause. You both become quiet — almost reverent — as you take in the multi-colored geological wonder before you. Blue sky spreads out forever and white fluffs of cloud cast shadows over the emerald valley below. Clouds turn silver and then charcoal across the horizon. Somewhere a light rain falls. You walk on.

Two choices appear: Cliff Trail or Canyon Trail — so you head toward the cliffs. You hike the shady dirt path in tandem skirting boulders, scaling overgrown roots, easing into a nice rhythm together. You pick up a fallen branch and it makes a great walking stick. You hand it to her and she accepts it with a smile. You finger the ring in your pocket and your heart skips a beat. You walk a long way in silence, hearing just birdsong, the wind, the crunch of dirt under your boots — deeply enjoying this time with each other and the grandeur of Mother Nature. You brought earbuds but somehow even Van Morrison couldn’t make this experience any more soulful.

You come upon a large plateau with a Waimea Canyon overlook. In the distance, you see your waterfall! A stream snakes along the bottom of the canyon. You hike on and the foliage gets taller. Still, this is a leisurely hike fine for any skill level. She makes it look particularly easy.

About half an hour later she starts to slow down and plops onto a boulder to rest. She tosses the walking stick aside, brow furrowed, and takes a long drink from her canteen. You sidle up beside her and offer her a fruit-and-almond energy bar. She accepts it gratefully, casts you a knowing glance and devours it.

An engaging trail . . .

Almost a mile later, you are climbing over boulders and can hear rushing water. When you finally make it to the base of the waterfall the scene is even more awesome than you’d remembered. The water cascades in a huge, booming rush over the cliffs into the churning pool below. You stand mesmerized by the sheer power of Mother Nature. You notice that she has managed to wade fully dressed into the pool and up onto a large rock facing the falls. You wonder if you can get there without falling in, losing your camera and looking like a major spaz. But she’s reaching her hand out to you, beckoning, smiling.

In you go.

Mostly wet, you scramble on to the rock in a way you hope minimizes spaziness and take a seat next to her. Wow. The cool spray envelopes you both and fills you with a kind of bliss. The sound of the water is both thundering and calming. You are the only two humans here. Again, silent reverie reigns. Soon, she puts her head on your shoulder.

When you pull the ring from your damp pocket it is even more brilliant in the watery mist. She looks from it to you and then back to it. She takes off her sunglasses so you can see her eyes. You take off yours, too, and in the first words you’ve spoken for miles you ask her, “Will you marry me?”

She nods, grinning and says the first word she’s said in nearly an hour, too: “Yes!” You slip the ring on her finger.

Thank god for fruit-and-almond bars, you think.

You kiss her and think that if your marriage goes even remotely as smoothly and beautifully as this hike has gone, you are both in for a long, happy life indeed.  

For more information about hiking the Waimea Canyon or other activities, or if you’re looking for inspiration for a unique wedding proposal, Koloa Landing Resort’s concierge team is here to help. Ready to book the wedding of a lifetime? Our onsite wedding experts will turn your wildest dreams into reality. Aloha, happily ever after!


By Erica Karlin — Koloa Landing


Photos by Matthew Travers