If you love nature, and you like to hike, then we strongly recommend a hike through Waimea Valley all the way to Waimea Falls. The Waimea waterfall is framed by lush greenery, and the sound that the falling water makes can be heard far and wide in the Waimea Valley area. When visiting the Waimea valley falls you will be allowed to take a dip in the water. If you want to go hiking on the North Shore of Oahu, then we highly recommend you visit Waimea Valley. This is arguably the best trail in Oahu.
In the Waimea Valley, you have the opportunity to picnic, go swimming, enjoy the Waimea Waterfall, and take a short hike. We recommend that you bring your camera because the scenery around North Shore, Oahu, and more specifically the Waimea valley waterfalls is spectacular and something you might like to document.
Hiking to The Waimea Falls
The Waimea valley trail that leads to the Waimea waterfall is one of the easiest hikes in North Shore, Oahu. On average, the trail can be completed in 20-30 minutes to get to the Waimea waterfall. Furthermore, the Waimea falls hike is wheelchair accessible as the trail is paved. The Waimea valley trail that we are referring to begins at the entrance to Waimea Valley. The Hawaiian hale structures are on the way, and you also pass beautiful flowers and plants along the way. While the hike is short, it is far from boring as there is much to see in Waimea Valley Park.
When visiting Waimea valley, we would recommend a visit to the Waimea Valley Botanical Gardens as well. The Waimea Valley botanical gardens are absolutely beautiful and truly one of the natural wonders of Oahu. If you walk all the way to the Waimea Falls, the site does not disappoint. Because the walk is so short, you will have the opportunity on your trip to spend some time at the waterfalls during your visit – even take a swim by the waterfalls.
If you are planning a swim we would like to state that life jackets are compulsory. You can get these from lifeguards on-site free of charge as they are included in your overall admissions fee to the Waimea Waterfalls park. The trail is easy and enjoyable and the rest of the park at Waimea Valley is also there to explore when you visit the waterfalls.
Waimea Falls Hike: Important Information
The trail is categorized as easy and is a round trip of about 1.9 miles. The overall duration of the hike should be at most 45 minutes to an hour round trip. The route is an out-and-back route with an elevation gain of 272 ft. The highlights of this trail are the Botanical Gardens and Waimea Falls in the park. You will have enough time to explore both of these in a day. You will also be able to take some side trails.
Waimea Valley Entrance Fees
We have outlined the latest fees as of March 2023. However, we do recommend that you visit the Waimea Valley Park website to check for any updated fees or opening hours. These prices are only for admission, however it does include the life vest needed for a regular swim at the Waimea waterfalls. Also, note that military prices would be different.
- Adult admission: $25
- Senior admission: $18
- Student admission (requires a student ID): $18
- Children between 4 and 12 years: $14
- Adult groups of 10 adults: $18
- Individual Annual Pass: $30
- Family Pass (2 Adults and up to 6 children younger than 18 years): $60
- Lifetime Pass: $600
Waimea Falls Facilities and Amenities
There are changing rooms, lifeguards, a life vest that is provided for those who want to go swimming at the Waimea waterfall, a gift shop, coffee shop and snack bar on site, restrooms, and free parking. When visiting Waimea valley you can enjoy Hawaiian culture and take a stroll through the Botanical Garden. Be careful of things like slippery rocks in the waterfall area, or on the paved path if it’s rainy. When visiting the beverage stands, be sure not to litter. The plant life is important here, so dispose of trash responsibly during your visit to Waimea.
How to get to Waimea Falls
Take the Bus
It is not advised to take the bus simply because of the time frame involved. The bus from Honolulu in the Waikiki area can take around 2 hours to get there. However, if you have no other choice and want to visit Waimea then you take the bus from Honolulu to Haleiwa Town and will likely need to transfer to another to continue on to Waimea Falls Park.
It is best to drive to Waimea Falls on your own from Waikiki. It should be about an hour’s drive. You will take the I-H-1 West, then the I-H-201 West, then back on the I-H-1 West, the I-H-2 North to the HI-80. Take exit number 8 from I-H-2 North, HI-99 North, and finally the HI-83 East until you get to Waimea Valley Road.
More Information About the Waterfall
When you visit Waimea Falls to see the waterfall, we would like to provide further information. The waterfall is 45 feet high and a truly beautiful sight. That being said, although the waterfall is beautiful, it is not an extreme waterfall, and if that is what you are expecting then maybe a visit to Waimea Valley is not the right place to see this. The Waimea Valley is still great to experience, the swimming around the waterfall with provided life vests can be great fun, and the botanical garden is beautiful and relaxing.
Swimming in the Large Pool at Waimea Falls: What you need to know
Be aware of Leptospirosis
Leptospirosis is caused by a bacteria that you can pick up from swimming in water that has been contaminated with the bacteria. Although it isn’t very common, it can occur in water that occurs in nature, especially on islands, in a waterfall, etc., where you might go swimming. If you have open wounds or small cuts we would recommend that you rather skip the swim. You can also check with park staff whether there have been any cases to help you decide whether to swim or not.
The Flow of the waterfall will depend on how much it’s rained
The vivaciousness of the waterfall will depend largely on how much rain the island gets. The more it rains on the island, the bigger and more lively the waterfall. So it is important to remember that in dryer periods there won’t be much waterfall. That being said, waterfalls are only a small part of what the island has to offer, and the botanical garden is still worth a trip.
Try to get there early (9:00 am) or late in the afternoon
The Waimea Falls are pretty popular in Oahu which means that they can draw quite a crowd which will make swimming a bit uncomfortable. Due to the popularity of this hike, and the crowds that it tends to draw, it is best to go early. Crowds only start arriving after 10 am (usually), so if you are there by 9 am you should catch the pool relatively empty.
What Else is There to Do in the Area?
There are quite a few attractions and activities to undertake during your vacation on the North Shore of Oahu. We will mention the main attractions here:
Hike Ka’ena Point Trail
This is a pretty spectacular hike that is still pretty easy. The scenery is absolutely beautiful and you can see a number of local plants along this hike.
Visit the Dole Plantation
The Dole Plantation is great for families or people looking for a bit of fun. It’s about a 27-minute drive from Waimea Falls and there are activities for the whole family to enjoy.
Hike your favorite North Shore Trail
The island has a number of brilliant hikes that are just amazing. The Ehukai Pillbox Hike is a favorite intermediate hike on the island. If you are in the area it is a great nature walk.
Visit the North Shore, Oahu Food Trucks
The North Shore has fantastic food trucks that really should not be missed.
Visit the best beaches on the North Shore of Oahu
Some of the most beautiful beaches on Oahu are the Banzai Pipeline and the Sunset Beach, both of which are near the Waimea Valley.
Snorkel at Sharks Cove
If you find yourself in Oahu and love snorkeling, then we recommend Sharks Cove. Sun care is essential when snorkeling in Oahu. Wear a snorkeling shirt or reef-safe sunscreen (preferably both), and snorkeling shoes (don’t forget your feet can burn too!!).
Cliff Jumping at Waimea Bay Rock
If you’ve come to Oahu looking for adventure then cliff-jumping off the Waimea Bay Rock is exactly the thing for you. The Waimea Bay is right across from Waimea Valley and is a prime cliff jumping location in Oahu.
Tips for Visiting Waimea Valley and the rest of North Shore, Oahu
While the Waimea Valley Trail is quite popular we do have some advice for you to consider before your trip.
Before going off on your Waimea Falls adventure you can check the waterfall swimming status by phoning the ticket booth. You can also check at your hotel whether they have a shuttle service that will take you there as the buses are not the best option.
If you can visit in the summer months we strongly recommend that you bring sun protection and mosquito repellent. This counts for the entire island of Oahu. At the botanical gardens you can expect to see water lilies in the freshwater pools, along with other plant life.
Inside the park there are several activities to partake in, including traditional Hawaiian games for the children. On the way to the waterfall, you will see several historical sites that are great for photographs, but it is essential that you respect these areas.
Waimea Falls Frequently Asked Questions
Which is better: Waimea Falls or Manoa Falls?
There isn’t really a simple answer to this question as there are many factors that might influence this. A short drive from Waikiki is Manoa Falls, which is a great visit if you do not have much time. This is a great option for those who do not have access to a car and would struggle to get to the North Shore of Oahu.
You will also find that Waimea Falls is much smaller than Manoa Falls, however, swimming is not permitted at Manoa Falls, where you will be allowed to swim at Waimea Falls. If you don’t mind the drive to the North Shore then Waimea Falls is great. Both of the hikes up to the waterfalls are considered easy walks, but the Waimea Valley hike is shorter than the one at Manoa Falls.
What other waterfalls can you swim in while in Oahu?
The only other waterfall that allows swimming is the Waimano Falls, as long as the water there is flowing.
Can you swim at Waimea Falls?
You may swim at the Waimea Falls, but swimming conditions will depend on the weather in the valley. You can follow the weather on the Waimea Valley Website.
Waimea Falls: The Final Say
If you want to explore the Waimea Valley and do the waterfall hike to Waimea Falls in Oahu, then we hope we have provided all the essential information you need right here in this article. It is a truly beautiful trail and you will see much more than the waterfall, think flowers, trees, plants, and even some small local critters!