Waimea Falls Park, Arboretum and Botanical Gardens: Things to do on Oahu, Hawaii

Stephanie loves to travel. She has written numerous articles with tips, photographs, and information on places to visit.

Visit Beautiful Waimea Falls on the North Shore of Oahu, Hawaii

If you are visiting Oahu, Hawaii, you should set aside a day to travel to the North Shore of the island. Among other things, you can visit the Dole Pineapple Plantation, watch daring surfers in large waves, view Sea Turtles, and take a leisurely walk to the gorgeous Waimea Falls through an 1800 acre, lush botanical garden in Waimea Valley.

The valley itself is historically relevant to native Hawaiians. Along the path to the falls, you can learn about the culture and lifestyle of these people visiting housing structures, stone walls and religious symbols. Native Hawaiians farmed crops, including sweet potatoes, bananas and taro root in the rich soil of Waimea Valley.

When you pay the admission fee, you'll soon realize where the money collected from visitors is invested. The botanical garden includes thousands of different plants from around the world, many rare and endangered. In addition to Hawaiian plants, there are collections from Polynesia, Madagascar, Guam and the Seychelles. Placards identifying the plants and origin help guide visitors.

A pamphlet offered at the entrance also includes a guide to the various birds you may see at the park. Among other things, keep a particular lookout for the wild peacocks!

Waimea Falls itself is about 45 feet in height. Depending on weather conditions, the volume of water flow may be as slight as a trickle, or as much as a raging deluge.

Don't be worried about the reddish color of the water. Waimea means "red water" in Hawaiian (it also means "sacred water"). It gets its name from the reddish soil through which the stream travels.

Waimea Falls on Oahu, Hawaii

Waimea Falls on Oahu, Hawaii

Visiting Information for Waimea Falls, Oahu, Hawaii

Address: 59-864 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, Hawaii, on Oahu’s North Shore across from Waimea Bay

Hours: Monday through Sunday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., 7 days a week, except Thanksgiving, Christmas Day and New Years Day

Cost: $15 for each adult; children 4-12 and seniors 60+ are $7.50; kids younger than 4 are free. Military discounts and group discounts available

Attractions: Botanical gardens, archeological sites, explanatory signs, 45-foot waterfall/swimming, available for events with advance booking (weddings, etc.)

Amenities: Public restrooms at the entrance (portable toilets along the path); snack bar at entrance to the park, and another one about 1000 feet from the falls; gift shop; golf cart transportation available to the Falls ($4.00 one way, or $6.00 round trip)

Travel Time: Approximately 1:15-1:30 hours from Honolulu

Parking: Available and free (unless you are only visiting Sunset Beach - then it is $5 per vehicle)

Waimea Falls and Waimea Valley

Tips for Visiting Waimea Falls Park, Arboretum and Botanical Gardens

Be Prepared for Weather: Oahu, Hawaii is generally mild and comfortable year-round. We visited Waimea Falls in January 2013 and it was 75 degrees F (which is the average temperature). That said, this portion of the island is one of the rainiest sections. Be sure to bring an umbrella and a windbreaker. You can leave them in the car if necessary.

Be Prepared for Walking: The paved path to Waimea Falls is only 3/4 of a mile. It is not steep or difficult. However, you can pay extra for a golf cart shuttle to and/or from the Falls. We walked the path in sandals, but many people choose to wear more sturdy footwear. Bring a water bottle, just in case. The path is wheelchair accessible, as well.

Be Prepared for Humidity and Insects: In January, we didn't see many insects, but my daughter did get a large mosquito bite on her leg. Most times of the year, you will want to use repellant. Breathable clothing is also important to keep you comfortable in humid conditions.

Check in Advance if you Want To Swim the Falls: This was one of our biggest mistakes. We had swimsuits, etc. in our car, but we walked all the way to the falls before we realized we could have gone swimming. There is a lifeguard on site. Safety rules apply if you are going to get into the water. Call ahead to determine whether there are any restrictions with regard to swimming. Be sure to bring a towel. The water temperature is about 70-75 degrees F (which really does not feel very warm).

We found out that this is the only waterfall on Oahu in which you can safely swim. Note that the waters are not always open for swimming, so do check in advance!

Plan on Plenty of Time for the Visit: It took my family about 2 hours to walk to and from the falls. It was about 1:15 on the way up - we took a lot of botanical and archeological photographs - and less than 45 minutes on the way back down.

Waimea Valley Oahu and Hawaiian Culture

Waimea Throughout the Hawaiian Islands

If you were searching for information about Waimea and Hawaii when you found this hub, take note that there are towns on both the big island of Hawaii and on Kauai named "Waimea." In addition, you can also find beautiful Waimea Canyon and the Waimea Plantation on the island of Kauai.

Waimea Bay is adjacent to the Waimea Falls Park on Oahu, Hawaii. Through the park, the Waimea River flows toward the ocean.

The Bay is famous for its large waves and great surf, celebrated in popular culture, including the Beach Boys' "Surfin' USA." More on Waimea Bay in a future hub!


Along the botanical garden walk to Waimea Falls

Along the botanical garden walk to Waimea Falls

Where is the Waimea Falls Park on Oahu, Hawaii?

Beautiful Waimea Falls Park

© 2013 Stephanie Marshall


Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 29, 2013:

Aloha Stephanie!

Your hub was very helpful and perfect to link from this one. :) I so appreciate your votes and sharing. Have a wonderful evening, Stephanie

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 29, 2013:

Hi always exploring - yes, it is so amazing. The pictures hardly do the botanical gardens justice. I appreciate your read and comment. Have a great day, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 29, 2013:

Hello Prasetio,

Thank you! I am glad that you enjoyed the photographs. Hawaii is a beautiful place to visit, if you get the chance one day. All the best, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 29, 2013:

Hi randomcreative,

It is a nice place to visit next time you are on Oahu. Thank you for reading and commenting! Best to you!

Stephanie Launiu from Hawai'i on January 29, 2013:

Mahalo nui loa for another beautiful hub. I live on Oahu and was just thinking the other day about returning to Waimea Falls Park. I haven't been there in a couple of years and miss it. And what a pleasant surprise to find your hub in my inbox this morning. Thanks so much for linking to my hub on Hawaii and Native Hawaiians. Voted up and checked all the boxes, sharing on FB, tweeting and pinterest. Aloha, the other Stephanie

Ruby Jean Richert from Southern Illinois on January 29, 2013:

Hawaii is the place i have wanted to visit the most. It is so beautiful. Your photos of the scenery are spectacular. Thank you for sharing great info...

prasetio30 from malang-indonesia on January 29, 2013:

I love this hub very much. Nice report. I always know I will be greeted with beauty when I visit your hubs. What a truly beautiful place you have found. Some day maybe I can travel to visit such a beautiful sight. I also love the pictures and the video as well. Good job, my friend. Voted up and take care!

Best wishes, Praseto

Rose Clearfield from Milwaukee, Wisconsin on January 29, 2013:

Just beautiful! I have not done this before, but if I make it back to Oahu someday, it'll be on my list. :) Thanks for the detailed overview.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 29, 2013:

Hi Peggy,

We visited the Big Island of Hawaii 5 years ago for a friend's wedding. There is a Botanical Garden there that is pretty amazing, too.

I'm glad you enjoyed the photos, etc. Its always fun to see new flowers and plants. Cheers, Steph

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on January 29, 2013:

Hi Steph,

I have only been to the Big Island of Hawaii so truly enjoyed this look at Waimea Falls and the Botanical Gardens. Your photos and descriptions were wonderful and I also enjoyed all 3 videos. That cannonball tree is certainly different looking! UUBI votes and happily sharing.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 29, 2013:

Hi Natasha,

The North Shore is about as far as you can travel on Oahu, if you are staying in Honolulu. But well worth the trip if you have time. Have a super day! Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 29, 2013:

Hi Sinea, it truly is amazing. I have not traveled extensively around the world, but have been to the Fiji islands and to the Baja Peninsula in Mexico. There are a lot of similarities. However, this is clearly the U.S.

I hope you get to visit Hawaii some day! Cheers, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 29, 2013:

Hi dragonfly,

Yes, they did have non-native plants at the botanical garden on the big island, as well. That is a good question. I would guess that these gardens are very well maintained so that invasive species do not spread. However, I am now curious! Best to you, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 29, 2013:

Wow - four visits to Hawaii! Great that you visited your son in the service - and thank you to him for his dedication! When we visited a few weeks ago, the waves were so huge that they had closed many of the beaches. Warnings everywhere not to go into the surf. Hope you can see that some time. Best, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 29, 2013:

Hi Carol,

I hope you do get to visit Hawaii! There are so many amazing things to do. Have a great day, Steph

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 29, 2013:

Thanks Chris - how fun to remember your surfing days on the North Shore. :) I will go check out your FB page. Cheers, Steph

Natasha from Hawaii on January 29, 2013:

The North Shore is a little 'out of the way,' or, at least, as out of the way as anything can be on an island! There are a lot of great things to see on the North Shore, though.

Sinea Pies from Northeastern United States on January 29, 2013:

Stephickes68, I cannot imagine a more beautiful place than Hawaii. Though I've never been there, I dream about the day that I will go. Thank you for this great hub. Voted up and beautiful.

Joy Campbell from South Florida on January 29, 2013:

Hi Stephicks68,

Thanks for sharing your experience with us. The area looks beautiful and I hope I have the opportunity to visit one day. I question them adding plants from other areas, I hope they don't become invasive to the native plants!

Voting you up, useful and intertesing.

Margaret Perrottet from San Antonio, FL on January 29, 2013:

I was fortunate enough to be able to visit Hawaii four times so far, since my son (a marine) was based there for three years, then returned for another two. During my visits I got to tour Oahu, and saw both the falls and the Dole plantation. I never went when the giant waves come into the North shore, so missed that. Great hub - voted up, useful, interesting and beautiful.

carol stanley from Arizona on January 29, 2013:

Lovely photos. We are thinking about going to Hawaii..I have never been. Great travel ideas and you make it so enticing. Voting up and sharing.

Chris Mills from Traverse City, MI on January 29, 2013:

Very well don Stephanie, I visited O'ahu in 1983. You mentioned "daring surfers in large waves" on the north shore. I was one of the stupid body surfers on a monster wave that pounded me into the sand. We also stopped at the Dole Plantation. This is a very helpful and thorough hub. I will share it on my FaceBook page featuring Freelance Writers. http://www.facebook.com/cam8510?ref=hl It is a small audience, but growing. Thanks.

Stephanie Marshall (author) from Bend, Oregon on January 28, 2013:

Sorry Bill..... After your blog post/FB today, I was feeling pretty bad about continuing to publish these hubs.

But you never know - 2 years ago I was contacted by Tourism Fiji to travel to the islands (paid) and write posts about things to do in Fiji. It was great - except that it wasn't a vacation and I didn't have any of my family with me. I have also been reimbursed for use of my photos in a travel book. :)

Keep up the writing and you'll be surprised where opportunities may crop up. Hope tomorrow is a better day, my good friend!

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on January 28, 2013:

Very pretty, Steph! Maybe some day, right? Until then, I'll just have to live vicariously from your travels. :)

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