Lush Waimea Valley Waterfall: A must see place on the North Shore (2023 updated)

If you are looking to explore and hike to a beautiful valley and historic part of Oahu, head to the north shore and visit Waimea Valley and botanical garden. Explore and Hike Waimea Valley in Oahu and the gorgeous Waimea falls that you can actually go swimming in after your hike.

Waimea Valley in the Northshore is spectacular and the visit to the waterfall for a nice and safe swim is the perfect way to end your visit here.

Explore and Hike Waimea Valley in Oahu

Heavenly Waimea Valley

The beautiful Waimea Valley and botanical garden has been wonderfully converted into a variety of show tropical gardens, a simulated ancient Hawaii village and hike up to Waimea waterfalls to enjoy a dip and swim right up to the waterfalls. It’s a fun day hiking Waimea Valley, explore the lovely botanical garden and visit the historic sites and at the end of the hike take your time playing around the swimming hole fronting Waimea waterfalls.

Why visit Waimea Valley?

Waimea Valley is a non-profit organization that promotes the beauty and restoration of the ahuapuaa (an ancient land designation to the area) that restores historic details, lifestyle and culture to ancient people living in this area. The beautiful botanical like garden is fun to explore either on your own with easy to follow placards explaining many facets and information about farming, village life and other historic bits of stories and cultural finds from the area.

Take a docent tour of Waimea Valley

It’s fun to go on your own or even take one of the regular docent tours of the gardens, village and visit to the area up to the waterfalls. The tours are fantastic because they do give more insight to how earlier inhabitants lived, farmed and preserved their cultural heritage in Waimea. And that’s the nice thing about this non-profit organization sharing the history, culture and lifestyle of the early inhabitants of the area and how they survived and cohabitated with the environment.

Explore and Hike Waimea Valley in Oahu

A history of Waimea Valley

The area has lots of cultural treasures from stone terraces, walls and structures built during the Hawaiian monarchy and was a rich agricultural environment for ancient Hawaiians and creating fish ponds, taro planting fields and other planting beds and keeping domestic animals in pens. Much of the valley floor was used for cultivating taro, bananas, sweet potatoes and eventually European orchards when they arrived to this area.

The valley also has significant spiritual significance with ancient Hawaiians practicing cultural activities, religious beliefs in the largest heaui overlooking the valley floor. The important priesthoods of the Kahuna Nui of Oahu were experts in the fields of agriculture, spiritual guidance, healing, fishing and everyday practices for the common man and local rulers.

Docent tours offered at Waimea Valley botanical gardens

Even though you can do your own DIY tour and read the placards around the site, it is easier to take a docent tour of the area and visiting the most significant early structures, places of worship and a mock ancestral village and how it looked like as a farming community. The guide helps to explain the everyday activities, the layout of the village and typical village life that occurred in the valley.

hiking through Waimea valley and botanical garden

A fun hike around Waimea Valley

The valley is only about .75 miles in length from the entrance to the waterfall area, but there are many side walking trails to visit various gardens, mock villages and other view points around the valley. There are easy to read placards that describe the various features and gardens you’ll come across and the typical tropical plants that you will be seeing along the way.

HIke to Waimea waterfall at Waimea Valley Botanical Garden

Waimea falls

The main hike to the waterfalls at the end of the valley less than ¾ of a mile on paved and relatively flat road meandering through scenic streams, gardens and other lookout points in the valley. There is a really nice waterfall at the end called Waihi which allows for swimming in the fresh and cold water which is perfect on a sunny hot day in the area.

This is probably the easiest and safest waterfall you can hike to in Oahu and swim in safely. It is also family friendly so children are welcome supervised by parents. The natural environment and safety factor makes this one of the most pleasant waterfall experiences you can enjoy in Oahu if you want to experience a hike and swim activity on the island.

Tip – the swimming area does have a lifeguard stationed at the falls and life jackets are required for all guests planning to swim in the water.

Visiting the botanical garden in Waimea Valley

Exploring the Waimea Valley Botanical Garden

If you love visiting botanical garden, there are over 35 distinct collections and one of the best Polynesian collections in the state, rare Hawaiian plants and individual gardens dedicated to plants from Guam, the Seychelles, Madagascar, Lord Howe Island, Ogasawara Islands and the Mascarene Islands.

You’ll find lovely collections of tropical plants and flowers to include: Heliconia, Hibiscus, fern, Bromeliaceous, Bamboo, Araceae, Bauhinia, and other tropical fruit and plantings. There’s even a lovely water garden with blooming water lilies to enjoy right at the entrance area of the garden.

Beautiful blooms at the Waimea Valley Botanical garden

The botanical garden does have a nursery that is open to the public to purchase plants on Saturdays from 8am to 12pm.

Educational tours at Waimea Valley

Educational tours at the park

There are free educational programs offered at the park with demonstrations, workshops and crafts or art and even Hawaiian performances that take place at the entrance courtyard of the park. Highlighting Hawaiian culture, craft and art, the Waimea Valley staff are friendly and a source of rich information and history freely shared with the public. You can check out their website for more details about programs or events happening or even participate in the regular luaus on site.

Video tour of Waimea Valley

Check out this video highlights of exploring Waimea Valley for more inspiration

or a botanical overview here

More details to visiting Waimea Valley and botanical garden

It is located at 59-864 Kamehameha Highway, HaleiwaOahuHawaii 

There is an admission for entry and you can visit them on their website here. you can find more details about a visit to Waimea Valley botanical Gardens here and the Luau option.

Entrance to the Waimea Valley botanical gardens

Hours of Operation are

Entrance is free to the botanical garden and waterfall experience with a purchase of ticket for the Luau program.

There is a luau experience offered called Toa Luau which also includes entrance to the valley and botanical garden as part of the experience. Check in to the luau starts at 5pm but you can arrive early to explore the park area for free.

Go Oahu Card allows for free entrance

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  1. Carole Terwilliger Meyers

    These hikes all look very intriguing. I’d most like to visit the Waimea Valley Botanical Garden and plan to do so the next time I’m on the island.

    • emorata

      You would definitely love exploring and hiking Waimea Valley, pretty amazing experience

  2. Juliann - Browsing the Atlas

    The Waimea Valley looks beautiful! I need to add this to my itinerary once I finally travel to Hawaii. I’d like to take the docent tour. Anytime I can learn about new cultures is a win in my book.

    • emorata

      Definitly spending some time to explore and hike the Waimea Valley will give you historic, culture and gorgeous landscape in one place

  3. Karen Warren

    What a lovely place for hiking and exploring. I love the colours in the botanic gardens!

    • emorata

      The botanical gardens here at Waimea Valley are spectacular.

  4. Jeff & Crystal Bryant

    The Waimea Valley looks like a paradise. What an amazing place to explore. We are truly jealous of your adventure, but so glad you shared it with us.

    • emorata

      You should come and visit so you can explore and hike Waimea Valley in Oahu yourselves



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Noel Morata this Hawaii Life

Meet Noel Morata

Noel Morata is the creator of This Hawaii Life along with a small team of contributors. Living on the Big Island and traveling regularly to the neighbor islands, Noel and team actively search and share the latest information and updates to Hawaii travel, food, adventure and various lifestyle activities on the islands for your planning and vacation. Aloha and enjoy This Hawaii Life.