Waimea Falls

North Shore, Hawaii, USA

About Waimea Falls

Hiking Distance: 1.5 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 30-45 minutes

Date first visited: 2007-01-20
Date last visited: 2007-01-20

Waterfall Latitude: 21.63066
Waterfall Longitude: -158.04408

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Waimea Falls is a very popular and scenic waterfall nestled in the North Shore of O’ahu behind Waimea Bay.

When we were there in 2007, the falls resided in the Waimea Valley Audubon Center, which required paid admission into its botanical gardens.

Waimea_Falls_040_01202007 - Waimea Falls
Waimea Falls

In the past few years since we visited this place in January 2007, I believe the owner of the lands have changed hands.

Anyways, the waterfall spills 45-55ft into a large plunge pool, which invited visitors for a swim.

Flanking this pool was a change room as well as a lifeguard so we had seen numerous families taking advantage of this opportunity for sanctioned water play in Nature.

Walking to Waimea Falls

In order to reach this waterfall, we went on a paved walk (a little over a mile each way), which I recalled felt more like a stroll than a hike.

We passed through a variety of flora and interpretive signs, which seemed like par for a botanical garden.

Waimea_Falls_051_01202007 - Waimea Valley was a nice place for a stroll as well as a little lesson in botany
Waimea Valley was a nice place for a stroll as well as a little lesson in botany

Indeed, the experience felt like a combination of a groomed botanical garden and a natural park.

Once at the end of the walk at the far end of the park, we reached the waterfall and swimming area.

We had seen numerous families partake in this walk, and we agree that it would be a great place to take the kids and teach them about Nature while having a fun and relaxing time in this serene place.

Waimea Falls Nomenclature

Interestingly, Waimea Falls has many names.

“Waimea” means “reddish water” in Hawaiian, which is a reference to the underlying reddish volcanic soil.

During times of heavy rain, the swollen Kamananui Stream would scour the reddish volcanic soil from the stream banks and colors the falls red.

Waimea_Falls_011_01202007 - Approaching the Waimea Falls
Approaching the Waimea Falls

Waimea Falls was also known as Waihi Falls.

Waihi means “trickling water” or “clinging water.”

I’m betting it got this name when the waterfall would slow to a trickle during unusually dry Winters and towards the end of Summer.

I also saw that Waimea Falls has also been called Waihe’e Falls.

Waihe’e is Hawaiian for “water slide,” though this is certainly not a waterfall to be sliding down!

Changes in Ownership

Waimea_Falls_008_jx_01202007 - One of the birds that we noticed during our stroll to Waimea Falls
One of the birds that we noticed during our stroll to Waimea Falls

It’s hard to believe that prior to this place being a botannical garden, it used to be the Waimea Valley Adventure Park.

Back then, the park featured cliff diving exhibitions, kayaking, and even ATV touring!

Needless to say, our visit was much more low key than in its past.


Waimea Falls is on private property on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. Since I generally don’t keep up with ownership situations, you may have to either go there and read the signs or contact someone beforehand. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting this website. Otherwise, if things change, you can fall back on visiting the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) website.

Waimea_Falls_002_01202007 - Julie on the paved walkway through the park
Waimea_Falls_053_01202007 - Further along the paved walk through the botanical garden
Waimea_Falls_047_01202007 - Looking upstream from a footbridge at Waimea Falls
Waimea_Falls_028_01202007 - Full context of Waimea Falls
Waimea_Falls_037_01202007 - Closer look at Waimea Falls
Sunset_Beach_006_01202007 - Surf contest at Sunset Beach

There are two major routes from Waikiki to the Waimea Valley, one inland and one coastal. The coastal route follows O’ahu’s eastern and northern shores, and took us about 90 minutes. The inland route cuts directly through the less interesting center of the island, but required us only 45-60 minutes.

Regardless of how you get to the North Shore of O’ahu, the turnoff for the park leaves Hwy 83 opposite Waimea Bay (I think they hold the Eddie Aikau [i.e. “Eddie Would Go”] Invitational here when the waves are crazy high). The access road leads inland right into the large car park area.

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Tagged with: north shore, waimea, audubon, eddie aikau, haleiwa, oahu, hawaii, waterfall, swimming, swim, lifeguard, life guard

Visitor Comments:

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Changed (Waimea Falls) August 18, 2015 12:36 pm by Donald Joyner - I would go here in the 90s and it was different all natural no fee to pay and no built path just a trail,more natural ...Read More
Wonderful Experience (Waimea Falls) August 27, 2013 8:17 pm by DK Agrawal - Coming all the way from India, we were just mesmerized to see and swim in this wonderful site. Once you are in the water you don't feel like to come out of the pool. The only thing which bothered me was the slippery stone while entering in the pool. DK Agrawal ...Read More
Oahu and Waimea Falls September 2, 2011 11:02 pm by Michael Wynn - I went to Oahu twice on the Navy's dime while attached to the U.S.S. Alabama submarine. The first time, I only had 4 hrs. to play. The second time, in 1987, I had nearly a whole day of "liberty" (off time), so I rented a Jeep and took some buddies on a tour of the… ...Read More
At Least One Dive… (Waimea Falls) May 23, 2011 1:04 am by lLeo Kling Jr - I was stationed at Schofield Barracks in 1964, and I met a local girl and we were married. She knew all the best waterfalls so we would travel around a lot. But my greatest time was when we went to Waimea Falls. She told me that she had once dove from the top, well it… ...Read More

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