Once an adventure park, Waimea Valley is now owned by a nonprofit and focused on the conservation of natural and cultural sites. The garden boasts more than 5,000 botanicals surrounding historic ceremonial sites and recreated traditional dwellings. Waimea Valley is a popular stop on island tours. Visiting with a guide adds to your understanding of the valley’s culture, history, and plants. A walk to the waterfall is commonly included on waterfall-centric and photography-focused tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
Swimming at the waterfall is permitted in some conditions. Life jackets are required and provided by a lifeguard at the waterfall.
The path to the waterfall is paved and wheelchair accessible, but some of the paths through the garden have steep stairs. There is also a shuttle that runs from the visitor center to the falls.
There is limited Wi-Fi throughout the valley but no cell service.
You can bring a picnic lunch, dine at the visitor center restaurant, or get food at the snack shop by the falls.
How to Get There
Waimea Valley is located on Oahu’s north shore, about 37 miles (60 kilometers) from Waikiki, for about an hour’s drive. If driving, take the Kamehameha Highway to Waimea Bay Beach Park and turn onto Waimea Valley Road. You can skip the hassle of driving—and enjoy the sights along the way—by booking a guided tour of the valley.
When to Get There
To see Waimea Falls at its most impressive visit in winter (rainy season). If you want a better chance of being able to swim at the falls, visit in summer, which is drier. Regularly scheduled botanical tours are offered daily on Thursday and on the first and third Sunday of the month—check the site for timing. Contact the park to arrange a cultural tour.
Make the Most of a Visit to Waimea Falls
Waimea Falls is located just under a mile (1.2 kilometers) from the visitor center, and the walk and falls are likely to be a highlight of your Waimea Valley trip. If you want to swim at the falls, call the park in advance to check the conditions—swimming is limited to certain water levels. If you plan to swim, bring water shoes to protect against the jagged rocks. Changing rooms are located at the falls.