Waimea Valley & Waterfalls (Top Oahu Attractions & Sights), Oahu tours & activities, fun things to do in Oahu | HawaiiActivities.com
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Waimea Valley & Waterfalls

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Waimea Falls is nestled deep in Waimea Valley on Oahu's North Shore. Here, visitors can swim in the pool at the base of the falls or enjoy a stroll through the botanical garden leading up to it. The valley also houses numerous sacred native Hawaiian conservation sites, and various cultural demonstrations are held throughout the year.
History of Waimea Falls

Known to ancient Hawaiians as "The Valley of the Priests," Waimea Valley was given its name over a thousand years ago in 1090 when Kamapua’a, the ruler of Oahu bequeathed the land to the high priest Lono-a-wohi. For hundreds of years, the descendants of the kahuna nui (high priests) lived and cared for the land while creating large heiau (temples) and numerous fishing shrines along the edges of the entrance to the valley. They even carved out burial caves within the steep cliffs of the surrounding valley walls.

The priests and their descendants were stewards of this lush paradise until Western explorers, whalers and missionaries made contact with the islands and overthrew the indigenous Hawaiian religion in the late 1700s and early 1800s. Eventually the last remaining descendant of the kahuna nui fell heavily into debt and had to mortgage the land. Upon her death in 1886, Waimea Valley was foreclosed.

Although the property went through a number of different owners, by the beginning of the 1900s, Castle & Cook held the deed to the land, but unfortunately a slew of torrential floods decimated the ancient taro fields and fruit trees that remained, and soon after, the area became used for ranching and immigrant camps. In the 1940s, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. military moved in and built a number of installations throughout the valley.

At the end of WWII, Waimea Valley was rebranded as “Waimea Falls Ranch and Stables,” and in the 1960s and 1970s the commercialism of this venture pushed the sacred nature of the area into the shadows. This venture eventually turned the valley into a theme park complete with ATV rides and cliff diving shows in the late 90s, but it continued to struggle financially until it eventually went bankrupt.

With the future of the land at stake, the National Audubon Society was eventually awarded the lease to the land and went back to the area's roots to showcase the valley as an ecological and cultural center. Currently operated by the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, Waimea Valley's sacred natural landscape and its rich historical background are once again being recognized.

Highlights

- Waihi Waterfall: Visitors to Waimea Valley can now swim in the falls as long as they wear the provided life jackets.
- Botanical Collection: You can now explore over 150 acres of gardens filled with more than 5,000 types of tropical and sub-tropical plants, many of which are native or endangered.
- Cultural Activities: Throughout the day, there are numerous demonstrations including hula, Hawaiian games and crafts as well as story telling with kupuna.

Things to Know

Hours of Operation: 9:00am to 5:00pm, open daily except for Thanksgiving and Christmas Day.

The walk over the paved path through the Botanical Gardens is 3/4 mile one way or 1.5 miles round-trip. Golf cart shuttles are available from the ticket area to the waterfall for $6 one way or $10 round-trip.

Top-Rated Activities for Oahu

Latest reviews of Waimea Valley & Waterfalls

Oahu Nature Tours Ultimate Circle Island Adventure, Waimea Valley Falls & Lunch

Wonderful day.

2022/11/27 Solo Travelers Rania

It was a wonderful day that we felt sorry when we were back to our hotels. Our guide was amazing. He was wonderful storyteller. We enjoyed every moment. We saw breathtaking views, ate the tastiest shrimps ever. We also e... more

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Waimea Valley Toa Luau & Free Admission Entry Ticket to Waimea Falls

Best time ever

2022/11/18 Families with Young Children Larry Vallejos

One of the most memorable things we have ever experienced. I genuinely felt like family! We will recommend this to everyone we know!

Oahu Nature Tours Ultimate Circle Island Adventure, Waimea Valley Falls & Lunch

Beautiful spots and a great guide

2022/11/14 Solo Travelers Laura J

The list of places to visit is nicely curated and I think we had enough time to walk around each site, take photos, and even buy souvenirs. Our guide, Jojo, was fantastic. He had too many stories to tell to keep us enter... more

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Oahu Nature Tours Ultimate Circle Island Adventure, Waimea Valley Falls & Lunch

Best tour ever.

2022/11/01 Families Gilles Binda

Greg is the best tour guide we have ever had on a tour. He was so knowledgeable and funny. He went out of his way to make our tour so great. He also ensured that my daughter had a shrimp plate that responded to her food ... more

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Majestic Oahu Circle Island Tour & Waimea Falls from Waikiki & Ko Olina - E Noa

Majestic oahu cicle island tour

2022/10/26 Friends Vangie T

The tour was great. Our tour guy Big Tony made it exceptionally great. He was fun and very informative. He made us feel welcomed and was very enthusiastic about sharing his knowledge of the island. He made sure we were... more

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Majestic Oahu Circle Island Tour & Waimea Falls from Waikiki & Ko Olina - E Noa

Juicy Circle Island Tour

2022/10/08 Couples TomAzz

Well, we didn't start off on time due to an unavoidable traffic issue. Once Juicy showed up the trip began and he kept us rolling in the aisles with funny stories and excellent information about the sights. Did I menti... more

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Waimea Valley & Waterfalls (Top Oahu Attractions & Sights), Oahu tours & activities, fun things to do in Oahu | HawaiiActivities.com
Waimea Falls is nestled deep in Waimea Valley on Oahu's North Shore. Here, visitors can swim in the pool at the base of the falls or enjoy a stroll through the botanical garden leading up to it. The valley also houses numerous sacred native Hawaiian conservation sites, and various cultural demonstrations are held throughout the year.