Waimea Valley | Waimea Falls and Gardens

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Just across the road from one of the Oahu's most famous North Shore beaches, Waimea Bay, is Waimea Valley which contains Waimea Falls and Gardens. The valley contains some of the best cultural, historical, botanical, and ecological marvels on the island. Gorgeous tropical plants fill the valley and line the trails. Religious sites, Hawaiian stream life, and cultural activities can all be explored throughout the valley. Guided tours run daily (additional fees may apply), check with the Visitors Center for details. Not all of these are kid-friendly so be sure to ask before purchasing. Listen closely as you enter the gardens, often the calls of the peacocks that have made the gardens their home can be heard and they often make special appearances. The hike to the falls is a nice, leisurely 3/4 of a mile trail that is paved which is perfect for children and strollers. The falls themselves can fluctuate depending on how much rain the area has received. There are lifeguards present at the falls and life jackets available for those who want to take a dip. Children are required to wear lifejackets. The lifeguards will also give you a quick safety brief and are often willing to take your picture. Word to the wise though, this water can be a bit chilly, but most kids tend not to mind. There is a rocky entrance into the pool so water shoes are a good idea. We also recommend that you bring your own towels! They also have noodles and body boards for floating out to the falls. Mosquitoes tend to like the shade and moisture of the valley so we recommend bringing insect repellant. There are bathrooms located just past the parking lot, as well as port-a-johns along the trail. Entrance fees can be found at www.waimeavalley.net. They do have military and kama'aina discounts available with valid I.D. If that doesn't apply to you, you can often find discount coupons in the various tourist brochures found throughout the island. Hours are 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. daily. If you plan on swimming in the falls, we recommend that you call ahead as lifeguards decide on a day-to-day basis whether or not to open the falls to swimmers. There are venders near the falls that sell snacks and beverages. You can also bring picnic lunches into the park and there are lots of shady places to enjoy your lunch and the plant life. If you do not bring your own lunch, the Waimea Valley Grill located near the Visitors Center sells some moderate priced lunches. In addition to the paved trail to the falls there are several side trails that allow you to explore other parts of the valley. These, however, tend to not be as stroller friendly. Visiting the falls and gardens is a great way to discover some of Hawaii's cultural and native plant life and swim in one of its many waterfalls. Best of all, the paved path, lifeguards at the falls, and many shady areas make this an ideal place to bring children. We highly recommend spending a family afternoon here.