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

A Hawaii "must do"!

2022/07/30 Couples Stan C

A cultural and historical event that any and every visitor to Hawaii should experience at least once. Not only is it a smooth operating show, but they did an outstanding job of explaining the historical reasoning behind ... more

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Disappointed for sure!

2022/07/15 Couples Dan

I was under the impression we were on a smaller shuttle bus, not a big bus. By the time we got picked up we had to sit in the back of the bus. Only a few people wore masks. I had paid more for this tour because I thou... more

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Awesome trip!

2022/06/25 Families with Young Children Jen K

This was an amazing trip and we had a wonderful guide Jo-jo who was super knowledgeable about all aspects of hawaii cultural, history, plants, food, birds etc...The bus was nice and air conditioned and the time stopping ... more

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My Sunday Tour

2022/06/21 Couples Al S

We were picked up right on time and our driver/ tour guide was very knowledgeable about the points of interest, culture and history. I was very impressed!! Not too forget the lunch stop was delicious!

Very inclusive circle island tour!

2022/06/19 Families with Young Children Christine

I looked at a lot of tours and this one seemed most inclusive. I had done one many years ago and wanted to show my kids now. First of all, it’s awesome when you have a fun tour guide. I’m sure they are all great, but I d... more

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Kimo was the best tour guide!

2022/06/09 Couples Nicole & Thomas

We hit the jackpot! Kimo was an excellent tour guide and was full of history and information. When we got to the different spots, he walked with us, telling us more. We saw other E Noa drivers sitting by their buses wait... 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.