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

Updated on May 07, 2016

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 | Source

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)

Click thumbnail to view full-size
At the entrance to the 3/4 mile walk to Waimea FallsAt the edge of the pool at the bottom of Waimea FallsEnjoying the hike to the Hawaiian waterfallGreat photo opportunity at Waimea Falls
At the entrance to the 3/4 mile walk to Waimea Falls
At the entrance to the 3/4 mile walk to Waimea Falls | Source
At the edge of the pool at the bottom of Waimea Falls
At the edge of the pool at the bottom of Waimea Falls | Source
Enjoying the hike to the Hawaiian waterfall
Enjoying the hike to the Hawaiian waterfall | Source
Great photo opportunity at Waimea Falls
Great photo opportunity at Waimea Falls | Source

Waimea Falls and Waimea Valley

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Heliconia plant - Waimea Falls Park, OahuLush botanical gardens in Waimea Falls ParkWaimea Valley, OahuCannonball Tree - Waimea Valley, OahuGiant philodendrum leaf - Waimea Valley, OahuWaimea Valley, North Shore Oahu, Hawaii
Heliconia plant - Waimea Falls Park, Oahu
Heliconia plant - Waimea Falls Park, Oahu | Source
Lush botanical gardens in Waimea Falls Park
Lush botanical gardens in Waimea Falls Park | Source
Waimea Valley, Oahu
Waimea Valley, Oahu | Source
Cannonball Tree - Waimea Valley, Oahu
Cannonball Tree - Waimea Valley, Oahu | Source
Giant philodendrum leaf - Waimea Valley, Oahu
Giant philodendrum leaf - Waimea Valley, Oahu | Source
Waimea Valley, North Shore Oahu, Hawaii
Waimea Valley, North Shore Oahu, Hawaii | Source

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!

Aloha!

Along the botanical garden walk to Waimea Falls
Along the botanical garden walk to Waimea Falls | Source

Where is the Waimea Falls Park on Oahu, Hawaii?

A markerWaimea Arboretum and Botanical Gardens -
59 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, HI 96712, USA
get directions

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Waimea Falls Park and Botanical GardensHibiscus flower - Waimea Valley, OahuStream running through the Waimea Falls ParkBeautiful tropical flowers in the Waimea Falls Park, Oahu
Waimea Falls Park and Botanical Gardens
Waimea Falls Park and Botanical Gardens | Source
Hibiscus flower - Waimea Valley, Oahu
Hibiscus flower - Waimea Valley, Oahu | Source
Stream running through the Waimea Falls Park
Stream running through the Waimea Falls Park | Source
Beautiful tropical flowers in the Waimea Falls Park, Oahu
Beautiful tropical flowers in the Waimea Falls Park, Oahu | Source

Beautiful Waimea Falls Park

© 2013 Stephanie Hicks

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    • billybuc profile image

      Bill Holland 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

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

    • stephhicks68 profile image
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      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      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!

    • cam8510 profile image

      Chris Mills 4 years ago from Colorado Springs, CO until the end of March

      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.

    • carol7777 profile image

      carol stanley 4 years ago from Arizona

      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.

    • mperrottet profile image

      Margaret Perrottet 4 years ago from Pennsauken, NJ

      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.

    • dragonflyfla profile image

      dragonflyfla 4 years ago from South Florida

      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.

    • Sinea Pies profile image

      Sinea Pies 4 years ago from Northeastern United States

      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.

    • Natashalh profile image

      Natasha 4 years ago from Hawaii

      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.

    • stephhicks68 profile image
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      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

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

    • stephhicks68 profile image
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      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi Carol,

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

    • stephhicks68 profile image
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      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      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

    • stephhicks68 profile image
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      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      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

    • stephhicks68 profile image
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      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      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

    • stephhicks68 profile image
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      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      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

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 4 years ago from Houston, Texas

      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.

    • stephhicks68 profile image
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      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      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

    • randomcreative profile image

      Rose Clearfield 4 years ago from Milwaukee, Wisconsin

      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.

    • prasetio30 profile image

      prasetio30 4 years ago from malang-indonesia

      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

    • always exploring profile image

      Ruby Jean Fuller 4 years ago from Southern Illinois

      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...

    • Hawaiian Scribe profile image

      Stephanie Launiu 4 years ago from Hawai'i

      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

    • stephhicks68 profile image
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      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      Hi randomcreative,

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

    • stephhicks68 profile image
      Author

      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      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

    • stephhicks68 profile image
      Author

      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      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

    • stephhicks68 profile image
      Author

      Stephanie Hicks 4 years ago from Bend, Oregon

      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

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