Waimea Falls, also known as Waihi Falls, is one of the more accessible falls on Oahu. It is located within Waimea Valley, which is a unique Hawaiian botanical garden within a significant cultural and archaeological site. There is a small fee to enter the park ($15 adults, $7.50 children). This is a worthwhile contribution, as the place is dedicated to the preservation of the incredible botanical and cultural features of the area.
There is an optional shuttle service for the very young or elderly to be able to also enjoy the falls ($5 one way, $8 round-trip). The 3.5-mile hike, which is mostly along flat, paved ground, is well worth doing as the path meanders through the magnificent gardens and historical sites. A visit to Waimea Falls is very much a cultural experience if you take the time to relax and enjoy the surrounds.
The 45 foot (13.7m) waterfall is part of Kamanui Stream that flows from the north end of the Koolau Mountains on Windward side Oahu all the way through Waimea Valley to join the Waimea River to the ocean.
The area used to be an adventure park where you could see cliff-diving shows, ride ATVs and trams and go kayaking. It was shut down and turned over to the Audubon Society in 2003, and turned it into a botanical garden. Now it is managed by Hi'ipaka LLC - a nonprofit organization with much more of a focus on cultural and botanical preservation.
There is a changing room located near the falls and a lifeguard who loans required life vests (free). There are often bugs so spray is recommended.
The stream water is apparently bacteria-free and regularly monitored, but as with all freshwater streams in Hawaii, Leptospirosis bacteria may be present at any time. Caution should be taken to not drink the water, and if you have any small cuts or open wounds it is recommended to stay out of the water altogether.
The waterfall is open to visitors to swim and cool off during opening hours of the Waimea Valley site, which are 9am – 5pm 7 days a week, from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m, unless the pool is closed due to unsafe conditions. The park is closed Christmas and New Year's Day.
General Admission to the Valley is $15.00 for adults and $7.50 for children (ages 4-12). Seniors are discounted at $7.50 (age 60+). Phone: (808) 638-7766