Waimea Falls Park is ranked among some of the best Oahu hikes. It is more like a pleasurable one-mile
stroll through lush botanical gardens that lead up to the
grand waterfall. Still known as the
Falls Park, this Oahu waterfall and the surrounding tropical grounds are now run
of Waimea Valley Hi’ipaka.
Waimea Falls in all its powerful cascading glory!
Unlike the other waterfalls on Oahu, Waimea Falls Park was once an entertainment theme park on the North Shore, where you could drive right up and park, grab a seat, and sip on pineapple juice while watching cliff divers take death-defying plunges along the side of Waimea Falls. Hula dancers also used to provide additional entertainment with dance performances.
After years of neglect, this area was transformed into the non-profit Waimea Valley gardens that now benefit and preserve the Hawaiian culture and community.
The road that you once drove into and right up to the waterfall has been turned into a beautiful, paved, botanical garden walk.
The type of entertainment now offered are more educational presentations and workshops on Hawaiian culture and history, highlighting the surrounding lands, animals, and different species of tropical plant life.
There are usually demonstrations, workshops and crafts, tours, works of
Hawaiian performances taking place in the meadow by the main entrance.
You will find the Waimea Valley staff to be friendly and are a rich source of information, as they take great pride in their heritage.
You won’t find many Oahu hiking trails here, except for the one-mile
stroll along a flat road that weaves through
the lush, tropical jungle and leads you to the main attraction -- the
Waimea Falls. Give yourself enough time so you can enjoy the beautiful flora on this meandering path.
You might feel like you have stepped into the movie set for Jurassic Park, as you are surrounded by oversized tropical plants and unique botanical gardens.
You will find many posted
signs along your
walk, describing the grounds, history, and plant life that exists in the
sacred Waimea Valley.
Take note that the
nursery sells plants and flowers from its award winning botanical
garden on Saturdays from 8am to 12pm.
If you're lucky, you might catch a rainbow above Waimea valley as the sun comes out after the rain.
Tie on a visit to Waimea Falls Park with an evening luau dinner with cultural demonstrations and Hawaiian entertainment. The Toa Luau includes your entrance to Waimea Valley & Waterfall.
Just make sure you give yourself enough time to get back in time for the festivities. Note that this luau only takes place on Mon - Wed. Learn more and reserve a spot...
While this Oahu trail is only ¾ of a mile long, it’s a fascinating one to trek with lots of beautiful exotic plants and flowers to admire, Hawaiian Hale structures to explore, and lots of twists and turns leading to a grand waterfall. The path itself is a concrete paved path, well-marked and maintained.
The trail starts just beyond the Waimea Valley Great Lawn. You will find an administration entrance booth located on the right hand side. This is where you check in or take care of your entrance fees, and you are ready to start your hike.
From the start you will be surrounded by oversized ferns, neon green lily ponds, and wildlife birds that call this valley home.
Walk through the covered bridge and take a moment to explore photos of past Hawaiian Monarchy portraits, ancient tools and instruments used in dance, cooking, and other facets of life from the past.
Take side trails that steer up hill on the right hand side. You will find a series of reconstructed Hawaiian Hales (houses) in different stages and materials used. They are fascinating to see, just like the one at the Bishop Museum.
The side trail eventually will reconnect back to the main trail. There is also a section of stairs that leads down to the river (stream during the summer months) below, if you wish to see a closer view of it. The river runs all the way out to Waimea Bay if you were to follow it.
Waimea Valley is lush for a reason, as it rains often here. Keep your eyes out for covered benches, as they might come in handy if you need to seek shelter.
Remind you that this is a botanical garden park. Take time to admire all the tropical plants that thrive in the area.
Finally with a small incline hill to stroll up and over, you will come upon another bridge that you will cross and where you’ll get your first glimpse of Waimea Falls.
One of the best ways to get to and view this waterfall is through a Circle Island all day tour that travels from Waikiki to the North Shore, stopping at some other Oahu attractions along the way.
It should take you
about 20 to 30 minutes to reach the Waimea
Falls (also known as the Wailele Waterfall),
which is anchored at the end of the trail. You will be
rewarded with the stunning presence of a 30-foot waterfall that
cascades down into a large pool below.
Although the cliff divers are long gone, the one thing that has not changed at Waimea Falls Park is the ability to take a plunge into the fresh water pool, and swim up to the waterfall if you dare.
You will find lifeguards on duty, and life jackets are available for free if you don't have your own.
The falls takes different shape depending on the season and recent rainfall. Fortunately it rains a lot in Hawaii, especially in the upper mountains.
Spend a full day traveling outside Waikiki, viewing iconic landmarks around the island and famous north shore beaches, while making important stops to view the stunning waterfall in Waimea Valley, and stopping by some Oahu attractions like the Dole Plantation.
There is a small park entrance fee that goes towards the
preservation and maintenance of the gardens and grounds. Also
consider an ultimate waterfall tour with many side
attractions as well.
FREE Keiki Day Wednesdays for Kama'aina (locals) & military children ages 4 to 12
Hours of Operation
Open Tue - Sun between 9am and 4pm, Closed on Mondays
Closed on certain holidays,
including Thanksgiving & Christmas
Make sure to stop into the Waimea Valley Gift Shop before you exit, as you're bound to find a special souvenir.
Much of the inventor on display is unique and created by local artist.
Here are 3 additional Oahu Waterfalls that you might want to consider hiking to after this one...
Need a good rental car option for the day? Whether you would like to visit a beach, a popular Oahu attraction, or explore the island for just a day, consider these great, discounted rent-a-car rates with Discount Hawaii Car Rental. They also have great packages for your entire trip...
Take the 52 Oahu Bus from Kuhio Ave (away from Diamond Head) to Haleiwa Town in the North Shore (ask the bus drive to notify you), where you will need to transfer to the number 88A or 60 Oahu Bus.
The 88A Oahu Bus will take you into Old town Haleiwa and then onward towards the North Shore Beaches. Ask the bus driver to notify you once you have arrived at Waimea Falls Park.
He will drop
you off near Waimea Valley Road (across from Waimea Bay), where you will have to walk the last
Just follow the river that travels from the Waimea Waterfall, back down the park and across the highway, into Waimea Bay Beach Park.
Known as one of the most beautiful beaches on the North Shore, this Oahu beach also produces some of the largest waves to be ridden and seen in the wintertime. When the gigantic waves go flat in the summer, the kids turn to jumping off the gigantic Waimea rock into the water!
Travel a little bit farther up the road, and discover the world famous Banzai Pipeline at Ehukai Beach. If the Oahu surf report indicates that the waves are up on the North Shore, and you manage to find a parking spot, then you’re in for a treat!
This is probably one of the only spots on the island where you can walk up to the shoreline and view big wave riders, surfing perfect barreling waves that crash onto a razor sharp reef.
A trip to the rustic North Shore isn't complete until you pay visit to Old Town Haleiwa. There is lots to see and do, including visiting a handful of Hawaiian art galleries, ono restaurants, shrimp trucks, surf shops, boutique shops, and of course getting a scoop of Hawaiian shave ice.
Waimea Heiau Ruins – Just above Waimea Bay is one of the most well preserved Hawaiian heiaus on the island, known as Puu o Mahaka State Monument. Most of the outlying walls are still intact, giving you a good perspective on just how large the site was.
You can drive to this site a quarter mile up a small road off the main highway, or take a small hike up a trail that starts just beyond the entrance to the beach parking lot. There are some nice views along the way and up top!!