Top 14 things to do in Waimea Bay with local attractions and places to visit in the area (updated 2023)

Waimea Bay in the north shore of Oahu is a fantastic place to enjoy a beach day here and it is also a family friendly and a relatively safe beach swim at during the late spring to early fall timeframe when the water is calm on the beach. It’s a perfect spot to visit If you are touring the North Shore or looking for a fantastic beach to enjoy in the area.

I share the top 14 things do around Waimea Bay from water activities, picnic spots to visiting other fun local attractions in the surrounding area for you to explore. Also, I share some inside tips and information about visiting the beach park and the North Shore area of Oahu.

For a perfect beach day, get to Waimea Bay Beach Park and get there early since the parking lot fills up early each morning.

Waimea Bay for beach, surf, snorkel and outdoor adventure fun on the North Shore

Where is Waimea Bay Beach Park located?

Located on the North Shore of Oahu on the coastal road from Haleiwa direct to Waimea Beach which is about 34.4 miles from Honolulu on the H1 to H2 highway to the North Shore. From Haleiwa, take the coastal road (Hwy 99 turns into Hwy 83) to Waimea Bay Beach Park on the left-hand side facing Waimea Arboretum and Botanical garden on the right side of the road.

You can easily drive from downtown Honolulu or Waikiki or if you have more time and on budget, then get a day pass on the Bus to visit the North Shore area.

Where is Waimea Bay Beach Park located?

Can you swim at Waimea Bay?

Yes, you can swim or surf at the beach but this actually depends on the time of year that you visit the area. Late spring to early fall is when the water is relatively calm in the beach area and perfect for families to visit and enjoy a day on the beach.

During the winter season, the waves and swells get bigger and more dangerous for swimming conditions on the beach and it is more for hangout and enjoying the beach area without doing some swimming or snorkeling during that time frame. The big waves draw out the real surfers drawn to the 40+ foot waves that can churn up in the bay which is extremely dangerous.

14 top things to do at Waimea Bay including beach, surf, snorkel and outdoor adventure

Can you swim at Waimea Bay?

What’s there to do in Waimea Bay?

There’s plenty of fun activities to keep you busy and enjoying a beach day here, some of the fun things include:

Jumping off the Rocks at Waimea Bay

1. Jumping off the Rocks

One of the favorite activities is the huge rock on the far-left part of the beach area. Locals love to climb the rock and jump down from different heights into the beautiful waters and sandy bottoms. You can climb and jump for some cheap thrills here.

2. Underwater tunnels at the Rock

There are some tunnels at the rock that are fun to explore for swimmers that are good at holding their breaths, although some of the tunnels are less than a few minutes to swim into the caves and out especially the one closest to the shore that you can swim through.

Fantastic Snorkeling at Waimea Bay

3. Fantastic Snorkeling at Waimea Bay

The rocky areas of the bay are fantastic to snorkel around and see marine life and tropical fish in the area especially with the very clear waters in the bay to see through.

4. Look for green sea turtles

If you love to snorkel, you just might find some green sea turtles that love to hang out in the rocky areas and also the beach parts. They also gravitate to the huge rock on the left side of the beach. Do be aware that you have to legally stay a distance of 10 feet to the turtles because their systems are not used to human viruses and conditions.

5. Surfing fun at Waimea Bay

Surfing enthusiasts rejoice, for Waimea Bay is a paradise that promises an exhilarating ride on some of the most legendary waves in the world. This iconic North Shore gem in Hawaii offers an unforgettable surfing experience that draws in wave riders from all corners of the globe. With its powerful swells and perfect barrels, Waimea Bay is a playground for those seeking an adrenaline rush on their board. Whether you’re a seasoned pro or a curious beginner, the towering waves of Waimea Bay provide an exciting challenge and a chance to test your skills. So grab your board, paddle out, and prepare for an epic adventure in the heart of surfing paradise.

Gorgeous lush Waimea Valley as a background

Gorgeous lush Waimea Valley as a background

The area behind Waimea bay is lush with rivers and waterfalls that you can explore and actually swim in. If you visit the Waimea Arboretum and botanical garden, you can visit the various gardens, take a docent tour and even swim in the lovely pool area facing Waimea Falls.

6. Rock Climbing at Waimea Bay

Locals in the area love to challenge themselves with also rock climbing in the area and there is a natural rock-climbing wall on the back end of the beach that is a local hangout for those wanting to climb a 20-foot rock wall.

Fishing on Waimea Bay

7. Fishing on Waimea Bay

Everyone fishes on Waimea Bay which is not a marine preserve area so all the locals are out with their fishing poles hoping to catch something good for dinner. Just make sure to stay clear off the many fishermen along the shoreline areas where they are all casting their lines.

8. Spectacular sunsets on Waimea Bay

The North shore beaches are legendary for the wonderful sunsets here and Waimea Bay is also a favorite spot to hang out late and enjoy a nice sunset experience on the beach especially when most of the visitors have left the area. You can even capture locals still jumping off the rocks and cliffs at sunset making for some spectacular photography possibilities on the bay.

Nice picnic grounds and bbq pits at Waimea Bay

9. Nice picnic grounds and bbq pits

If you are looking for a nice spot to have a picnic and enjoy the beach at the same time, there are a variety of picnic areas in the grassy parts and also closer to the beach area to enjoy a picnic and tables for your time on the beach.

The Superbowl of Surfing competitions pipeline beach

10. Winter time big waves at Waimea Bay

Winter season is still active with the big waves that come into Waimea bay and it becomes more of a spectator beach to watch surfing daredevils’ risk everything for the Big Waves. There is also a big surfing competition called the Quicksilver “Eddie Would Go” surfing competition which occurs in winter when the swells get to over 40+ feet for the surfing event. Typically, this event can happen between Dec 1st to late February time frame. This is a must see if you love watching big waves and surfing competitions at the same time.

If you are a good surfer, learn more about ocean safety in Hawaii’s ocean here for more details and being safe in the bay.

11. Food trucks at Waimea Bay

Above the bay and a short walk down the road and you will spot a variety of food trucks selling delicious shave ice, garlic shrimp and other local favorite dishes for take out or outdoor seating and enjoying the views of the bay from above.

Waimea Falls

12. Swim at Waimea Falls

If you want to hike and explore Waimea Falls, that’s just across the road at Waimea Valley where you can hike to the local waterfall and enjoy the nice refreshing waterfall and gardens. This non profit organization fosters everything about culture, history and education of life here in Waimea Valley area.

Check out our post on exploring Waimea Falls here for more inspiration and images.

What is included in visiting the gardens and falls?

13. Check out the botanical gardens at Waimea Valley and botanical gardens

If you are into native plants and botanical gardens, then the botanical gardens across the road are quite impressive and fun to explore. There’s even a mock village that typically shows what early Hawaiian village and day to day life was in Waimea Valley and how the indigenous people lived and worked this lush valley area.

Check out our post here on visiting Waimea Valley here for more inspiration and images.

14. Experience an authentic luau at Toa Luau

Probably one of the more Hawaiian and authentic luau experiences you can get on the island. This luau happens just across the road at Waimea Valley and is a combination of education, cultural immersion, delicious traditional Hawaiian foods and entertainment that correctly represents the Hawaiian indigenous luau and celetration gathering.

A ticket purchase for the luau gives you free access to visit the waterfalls and gardens at Waimea Valley so come early to relax and swim in the falls before you enjoy the luau celebrations at Toa Luau.

Amenities at Waimea Bay

Waimea Bay is very cool and covers the whole range of amenities for a beach park, but the parking lot does fill up quickly so you have to get their early or late or else park on the main road.

Restrooms and showering stations

Life guard stations

Picnic tables and BBQ pits

Parking area

Weather and best time to visit Waimea Bay

The best time to visit Waimea Bay depends on your interests and what you’d like to experience. Here’s a breakdown of the weather and the best times to visit:

Winter (November to February):

  • Weather: Winter is the peak of the big wave surfing season on the North Shore. During this time, the weather is cooler, with daytime temperatures ranging from the high 70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (25-28°C). Nights can be cooler, so bring layers.
  • Pros: Witnessing the massive waves at Waimea Bay is a thrilling experience for surf enthusiasts and spectators. The bay’s high surf conditions are ideal for competitions like the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational, which is held only when waves reach a certain size.
  • Cons: Swimming and snorkeling are generally not recommended during the winter months due to the strong currents and high waves.

Spring (March to May):

  • Weather: Spring offers warm and pleasant weather, with daytime temperatures in the mid-70s to low 80s Fahrenheit (24-28°C). The water temperature is comfortable for swimming and water activities.
  • Pros: Spring is a great time for swimming, snorkeling, and enjoying the beach at Waimea Bay. The waves are generally calmer during this season.
  • Cons: Crowds can be a bit larger during spring break, so plan accordingly.

Summer (June to August):

  • Weather: Summer is hot and mostly dry, with daytime temperatures ranging from the mid-80s to low 90s Fahrenheit (29-34°C). The water is warm and inviting.
  • Pros: Ideal weather for beachgoers, with clear skies and calm waters. It’s a great time for swimming, snorkeling, and water sports.
  • Cons: Summer can be busier, especially in popular tourist areas. Popular beaches like Waimea Bay can get crowded.

Fall (September to October):

  • Weather: Fall is similar to spring, with warm and pleasant temperatures.
  • Pros: Fewer crowds than in summer, making it a quieter and more enjoyable time to visit. Ideal for outdoor activities like hiking and exploring.
  • Cons: Late fall can bring some rain, but it’s generally less rainy than winter.

General Tips:

  • Always check the surf conditions and heed any warnings posted by lifeguards.
  • Be aware of seasonal variations in water temperature. In the winter, the water may be cooler, so consider a wetsuit if you plan to swim.
  • Parking can be limited, especially during peak times, so arrive early if you want to secure a parking spot.

The best time to visit Waimea Bay depends on your interests and whether you want to witness the big waves in winter or enjoy calm waters and water activities in the warmer months. Each season offers a unique experience at this iconic North Shore beach.

Group Tour experiences

If you want to leave the driving and knowledgeable guide to the area, consider these group tours to Waimea area for a carefree day visiting the area.

Circle island tour including Waimea Valley

North Shore discovery tour including Waimea Valley

Full day general admission of Waimea Valley and falls

Check out these other places to visit on Oahu

Check out these other places to visit on the North Shore of Oahu

We share some of our favorite places and activities to enjoy on the North Shore along with other places you can visit along the way.

Visit the North Shore of Oahu and places to explore

Top beaches to explore in the North Shore

Explore and hike Waimea Valley

Waimea Falls experience

Free or cheap things to do in Oahu

A Diamond Head Hike in Honolulu

Family friendly beaches in Oahu

Top things to do in Honolulu

Top things to do in Waikiki now

Horseback Riding in Hawaii

Have you visited Waimea Bay?

More inside tips to visiting Waimea Bay in Oahu

Waimea Bay on Oahu’s North Shore is a gem that beckons travelers seeking natural beauty and outdoor adventures. To make the most of your visit, consider these insider tips:

Early Arrival: Beat the crowds by arriving at Waimea Bay early in the morning. You’ll have the pristine beach and calm waters to yourself for a peaceful swim or snorkel.

Snorkeling: Explore the underwater world of Waimea Bay by snorkeling around the rocky points. You’ll encounter colorful fish and possibly sea turtles. Bring your snorkeling gear or rent it nearby.

Big Wave Watching: In the winter months (November to February), Waimea Bay is famous for its massive waves, attracting surfers from around the world. Witnessing these epic waves is a sight to behold, but stay a safe distance from the shorebreak.

Cliff Jumping: Adventurous types can try cliff jumping from the famous rock known as “Jump Rock.” Be sure to assess water conditions, and only jump if you’re experienced and confident.

Picnic: Pack a picnic and enjoy lunch at the park adjacent to Waimea Bay Beach. Picnic tables and shade are available, making it a great spot to relax and refuel.

Hiking: The nearby Waimea Valley offers hiking trails through lush botanical gardens. Take a stroll to the waterfall and take a refreshing dip in its natural pool.

Water Safety: Be aware of ocean conditions and heed any posted warnings or lifeguard instructions. The currents at Waimea Bay can be strong, so exercise caution when swimming.

Parking: Arrive early to secure parking, as it can fill up quickly, especially on weekends and during peak seasons.

Local Eateries: After your visit, explore Haleiwa town, just a short drive away, where you’ll find an array of local restaurants and food trucks offering delicious Hawaiian cuisine.

Respect the Environment: Please respect the natural beauty of Waimea Bay by cleaning up after yourself and avoiding any harm to the delicate marine ecosystem.

Waimea Bay is a versatile destination, offering relaxation and excitement in equal measure. Whether you’re a sunbather, water sports enthusiast, or nature lover, these insider tips will help you make the most of your time at this iconic Oahu beach.

Have you visited Waimea Bay?

Enjoyed your visit here or any other tips to share? Please share on the comments below.

Conclusion to 14 things to do around Waimea Bay

In conclusion, Waimea Bay is a true gem that offers a myriad of activities for visitors of all ages and interests. From the adrenaline-pumping thrill of surfing its legendary waves to the tranquil beauty of sunbathing on its golden shores, Waimea Bay has something for everyone. Take a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters, explore the vibrant underwater world through snorkeling or diving, or simply relax and enjoy a leisurely stroll along the stunning coastline. Immerse yourself in the rich cultural history by visiting the nearby Pu’u o Mahuka Heiau or indulge in a beachside picnic while marveling at the breathtaking sunset. Whether you seek adventure, relaxation, or a combination of both, Waimea Bay’s diverse range of activities ensures that your visit will be filled with unforgettable moments. So pack your sunscreen, embrace the aloha spirit, and embark on an incredible journey at Waimea Bay that will leave you with cherished memories for years to come.

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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.