A short drive from Haliewa you’ll find Waimea Valley Audubon Center and its famous waterfall. Ok, I’ll be honest here and say that if you’re interested in waterfalls then there are many better places and more beautiful falls, but the nature here is amazing (like everything else in Hawaii) and the hike will be one of your most pleasant experiences.
It will take you 2-4 hours to appreciate it all.
Actually, pretty much everything is combined in this place: spectacular views, colorful birds, pretty flowers, and some really interesting trees.
This place claims to “feature over 5,000 species of tropical plants” and all the names are carefully mentioned on signs and maps.
You can easily combine this place with a visit to Laniakea beach, because the places are about 20 minutes drive apart.
Waimea Valley used to be an amusement park type place with a waterfall at the end of the valley where cliff divers would perform. But the Audubon Society now owns this incredibly beautiful valley and they have done a great job restoring and maintaining its natural beauty.
The cost to get in is $8 per person and well worth it to stroll in this green tropical park. To me it was very spiritual because thousands of Hawaiians used to live in this valley. I could imagine them living under these giant trees and walking down to the bay to fish. Nene ducks and peacocks strolled around the park freely.
The waterfall at the end of the 3/4 mile trek was a welcome cool-down. You must tell the lifeguard on duty when you are going in to the water. It is a great photo op to swim out the lagoon to sit under the waterfall. No diving though.
There is an excavated Hawaiian site where they have found rock walls forming what they believe were animal pens. Very interesting. The gift shop at the entrance of the park had reasonably priced items and I loved it so much I came back to this shop a few days later.
This is a beautiful park with a ¾ mile walk from the entrance back to the Falls where one can swim. The flowers and plants and trees are incredibly beautiful. There is a café at the park entrance where one can have lunch before or after touring the park. I love to walk this park. There are some endangered Hawaiian birds here along with an ancient Hawaiian village display.
The Center is open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm daily
Exceptions: Closed Christmas and New Year's Day
Closed at 3:00 pm on Thanksgiving and New Year's Eve
Gift Shop is open from 9:30 am to 5:00 pm daily
If you are going to go to one place on Oahu to see tropical plants, Waimea Velley is the place to go if you 're traveling with a diverse group of people. Besides being a spectacular botanical garden, it has exhibits on pre-contact Hawaiian culture, environments for endangered Hawaiian birds and a refreshing waterfall at the end of the walk. Yes, you should bring your bathing suits and take a dip under the 30-foot waterfall!
Also, keep your eye out for the Hawaiian pea hen, one of the many indigenous birds that dropped their ability to fly as the evolved in these isolated, predatorless islands. Flight was an uncessarily expensive proposition for these birds back then, but once westerners brought cats and mongeese, their lack of flying skill has been a major detriment.
THese birds also lost their natural fear of predators, which was on evidence the day I saw the pea hen. As he swam boustrophredonically through his small pond, I was able to get quite close for photos even without a zoom lens.
Waimea Bay is located along Oahu's famous Northshore, tucked away in the beautiful Waimea valley. Waimea in Hawaiian means "Red Water".
Waimea Bay is home of the biggest surf in the world. It is not uncommon for waves to reach over 30ft during some winter swells. Because of the size of the waves here, this is also the location of the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational. A surfing contest held only when the waves reach a height of 20ft or higher. Surfers fly in from all around the world to compete for who can catch the biggest wave. The 2004 winner Bruce Irons, walked away with $55,000. Waves that afternoon were up to 50ft. The competition is in memory of the great big wave surfer Eddie Aikau.
Waimea is a great beach, and a must see while on Oahu. Be careful during winter months, becuase of high surf and strong currents. During the summer, this beach is perfect for swimming, and is safe for the whole family.
Kualoa Ranch is definitely a must see. You can ride ATV's and see the beautiful East Coastline, and see local Hula dancers on Weekends. It is a great activity and one of our favorite places on Oahu. They filmed "Jurassic Park" here...