Hawaii is well-known for the beaches, surf and beautiful hikes. One of the most family friendly and relaxed hikes on all of Oahu can be found on North Shore. Waimea Valley Falls is a hike that is paved and handicapped accessible, and with a rewarding waterfall view at the end. It is well-known amongst the Hawaiians as a place of worship and peace but now is a tourist area for everyone to learn about the Hawaiian culture and why this place has such high importance for the Hawaiians, their gods, and their culture. Here is how to make the most of Waimea Valley Falls.
OUR EXPERIENCE AT WAIMEA VALLEY FALLS
We did this hike several times. It was one of the first hikes we did when exploring North Shore. It is located right behind Waimea Bay which is another great spot to go swimming at and even go cliff jumping. When we arrived we immediately were awed by all the nature around us. We proceeded to pay to do the hike and entered the park.
First stop we did was enjoy the beautiful gardens. They had all sorts of fruit bearing trees, flowers, and native plants. You can also find Peacocks walking through the gardens along with other avian such as chickens and ducks. If you look closely at the trees you can even find birds flying or nesting.
As we continued to follow the paved trail we saw some beautiful hut like buildings. These were places of worship for the Hawaiian high priests back in the day. You can read more about it down below in the “About Waimea Falls” section.
One of the times I visited there was an older man making bracelets out of palm tree leaves. I asked him how he made them. He said that he first grabs the leaves that he is blessed with and takes them to the ocean to be cleansed. Then he lets them dry naturally before beginning to use each leaf to create the jewelry. He says that by taking them to the ocean to be cleansed, he is also giving thanks to his gods for the blessing. How beautiful is that. It made me think of how many times we take life for granted. Even the smallest things like a cup of water and we don’t even say thank you to God. Yet here is this wonderful man saying thank you to his god for palm tree leaves.
THROUGHOUT THE TRAIL
As we continued we passed gardens filled with all sorts of flowers and colors. Gorgeously structured trees that were eye captivating. We even saw all sorts of insects and salamanders. The trail is truly filled with life and luscious greens all around. Best of all was hearing the stream from flowing near us. Just hearing the water flow among the rocks made this hike peaceful.
ARRIVING AT WAIMEA FALLS
Continuing the paved the trail, we arrive to this open area followed by a hill. This is when you know that you are getting close to the waterfall. You will go down the hill and arrive to this little area filled where the bus takes you. You can also enjoy a snow-cone or some ice cream here if the shops are open or even enjoy a restroom break.
After enjoying your snack and restroom break you can head right across from those shop where you will see a bridge. You can view the waterfall at a distance from the bridge. Don’t forget to snap a cute family photo here. Continue across the bridge and through the trail to get to the gorge of the waterfall. You will see some lifeguards and a tent with life-jackets. You can choose to get your feet wet or you can grab a life-jacket and head out to the falls. Either way, this is the spot that makes this park completely worth it.
ABOUT WAIMEA VALLEY FALLS
Polynesian voyagers traveled across the Pacific Ocean. As early as 400 AD, these voyagers arrived in Hawai’i. Around 1092 AD, “Waimea Valley was chosen on the island of O’ahu to be awarded to the Kahuna Nui (High Priests) in perpetuity due to its lush valleys, abundant resources, free-flowing streams and geographic location.” The Kahuna Nui’s were fishermen, prophet, or healers that were considered experts in their field of study. These High Priests played an important role to all Hawaiians. The Hawaiian religion is polytheistic which means that they worship many gods. Hawaiians worship four main gods.
- Kāne – Hawaiian god of the forests and the trees.
- Kū – Kū – The god of war, prosperity, the deep forest, the mountain, dry and wet farming and fishing.
- Kanaloa – Hawaiian god of ocean and the land of departed spirits.
- Lono – Hawaiian god of peace, fertility, agriculture, rainfall, and music.
In Waimea Valley you can find many of the heiau (places of worship and religious sites) throughout the trails dedicated to these gods. You can read more about Waimea’s history here.
WHAT TO BRING
- Sneakers or comfortable shoes
- Swimsuit if you plan on swimming at the falls
- Comfortable clothes
- Bug Repellent. Mosquitoes can be a pain in some of the areas.
- A Towel if you plan to swim
These are just some of the main essentials. If you are traveling with children then you can read my guide to must have essentials when hiking with kids. I also have this baby hiking essentials guide for those who have children between newborn age to about 2 years old.
ATTRACTIONS AT WAIMEA VALLEY FALLS
The park has various things for their visitors to enjoy such as:
- Hiking Trails
- Gift Shop
- Restaurant and Snack Shop
- Botanical Gardens
- Educational Programs
Admission fees range between $8 to $16 per person or child. You can view more detailed prices here. Military and senior discounts are available as well. Children under 4 years of age are free.
WAIMEA VALLEY FALLS LOCATION
Waimea Valley Rd,
Haleiwa, HI 96712
You can go here to view the directions.
EXPLORING NORTH SHORE, OAHU, HAWAII
Besides Waimea Valley Falls and Waimea Bay, North Shore Hawaii has a lot to offer. If you are looking for another fun and kid friendly hike to do on this side of the island then Ehukai Pillbox Hike is a must. The views from above are absolutely gorgeous. You can also stop by my all time favorite place to grab acai bowls. Haleiwa Bowls has the best and they have so many options for toppings and even smoothies. The entire island has a lot of kid-friendly hikes but can be a little hard to find sometimes so I created this guide of the top 5 kid-friendly hikes on Oahu. I have done all of these and my little ones and I absolutely loved them all.
Over all, Waimea Bay is stunning. Definitely a place that you shouldn’t skip out on if you are on the north side of the island. You can learn a lot about the Hawaiian history and culture as well as go for a swim at the Waimea Falls.
Have you ever been to North Shore or Waimea Falls? How did you like it? What are your favorite places to go to on the island?
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