Waimea Valley Oahu is a lush green park with deep historical roots that are very important to Hawaiian culture and religion. For visitors, the valley is a place of solace where they can escape the busier tourist trappings of Oahu and simply enjoy a walk through the expansive botanical gardens, exploring vegetation both rare and unique to the islands. For most, the highlight of the experience is the waterfall found at the peak of the hike where a pool below reflects tales of healing waters used by ancient Hawaiians. When the falls are calm, visitors are allowed to swim in the pool and at times there are professional cliff jumpers on site, plunging into the cool surface below to the delight of onlookers.
While most of natural Oahu is open to exploration at no expense, there is a $15 admission fee for Waimea Valley due to the historical significance and the need to allocate funds towards preserving this important piece of Hawaiian culture. While the cost is certainly justified, many visitors will want to check ahead of time if the falls are open for swimming since this is a main attraction for many. A few disappointed faces can be seen on those trekking back from Waimea Valley when the conditions don’t allow for a dip. For those that can’t get enough of green scenery and history to boot, Waimea Valley will not disappoint.
Side note: One of the most interesting attractions at Waimea Valley Oahu are the ancient tiki grounds – the heiau – found at the park entrance where the “Hale o Lono” – House of Lono – built between 1470 A.D. and 1700 A.D., stands as a shrine to one of ancient Hawaii’s four main gods. You can view and photograph this attraction without paying the entry fee and is thus worth the hike up to the valley in itself.