5 Reasons Waimea Valley on Oahu is Worth the Trip & Cost!

Waimea Valley
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > 5 Reasons Waimea Valley on Oahu is Worth the Trip & Cost!

If you’re visiting Oahu and staying in Waikiki, you may wonder: what could possibly be worth driving 2 hours to Haleiwa on the North Shore?! The answer is plain and simple: Waimea Valley. Here you’ll find historical and archaeological sites, an expansive botanical garden, and cultural attractions that will transport you back to the time when Ancient Hawaiians ruled the land.

We admit, it’s a big drive to get to Waimea Valley from Honolulu. Plus, the per-person admission may make you wary to visit. But we think this is a great attraction that’s well worth the time, effort, and cost. 

Here are 5 reasons Waimea Valley should be on your Hawaii “to-do” list while you’re here:

1. You Get Your Money’s Worth at Waimea Valley

Once you arrive in Hawaii, you may notice that ticket prices are, well, NOT cheap. And it’s hard to know what’s worth spending money on. We think Waimea Valley is well worth the admission price. 

It’s a great hike plus a waterfall swim without the hassle of other “free” spots. For your ticket price, you get a dedicated parking area, a pathway that’s accessible for all abilities, life jackets for your swim, plus lots of signage and info to make the trip even more enriching. 

Admission at Waimea Valley is $25 for adults, $20 for students & seniors, and $15 for children ages 4 to 12. 

Compare that to the hassle of finding “hidden” waterfall hikes, the dangers of some of those trails, and unsafe swimming conditions, and you may find that the costs of Waimea Valley are quite worth it.  

2. See a Fully Restored Hale o Lono

hale o lono at waimea valley

As you stroll through Waimea Valley, make time to visit Hale o Lono, an ancient heiau (temple) dedicated to the deity Lono. Hale o Lono, located in Waimea Valley, dates back to 1470 AD. It is the only fully restored Hale o Lono in the State. 

There, you’ll be able to admire the Opu Tower, the Anuu Tower, Ahu (altar), Lepa (kapu sticks), and Na Ki’i Akua (sacred temple images).

Originally, Hale o Lono were constructed and used primarily by alii (persons of high rank). Hawaiian would leave food items as offerings at this type of heiau.  Please do not remove pohaku (rocks) or leave items such as coins, incense, or candles, as they cause long-term damage.

Keep in mind that Waimea Valley boasts an abundance of Ancient Hawaiian Archaeological Sites. In fact, they’ve identified 78 sites of interest, including religious sites and shrines, house sites, agricultural terraces, and fishponds.

3. The Extraordinary Botanical Collection

Gardens at Waimea Valley

Waimea Valley is home to more than 5,000 documented kinds of tropical and subtropical plants, including native and endangered Hawaiian plants. Enjoy the collection of heirloom varieties of kalo, sweet potato, and banana, as well as one of the state’s most extensive collections of loulu palms, the only palms in Hawaii before Hawaiians brought coconuts.  

The diverse collection of plants is a display of over 1000 genera in over 200 plant families from all over the world in 35 separate gardens.  One is solely devoted to the Hawaiian hibiscus and includes all three endangered subspecies of Hawaii’s state flower.

4. Cultural Activities Are Included at Waimea Valley

hula dancers at waimea valley

With your paid admission, you gain access to many of the site’s cultural activities. They’ve thoughtfully curated these activities to introduce you to Native Hawaiian culture. Enjoy Hula Implement demonstrations, Hawaiian Games, Crafts, Music, and Story Telling with Kupuna (elders).

5. The Waimea Waterfall (also known as the Waihi Waterfall)

An attraction of great interest and enjoyment is the Valley’s 45-foot waterfall. Waimea Falls is approximately 3/4 of a mile from the Ticket booth. This is the only waterfall in Oahu where you can swim at that also has a changing room, life jackets available, and lifeguards on duty.

To learn more about this hike and the swim, check out our post on the Waimea Falls Hike here. 

Planning Your Oahu Vacation Activities

Waimea, “The Valley of the Priests,” has been a sacred place for more than 700 years. The Waimea Valley park and cultural site does an outstanding job honoring this history while also staying current and relevant for visitors. When you book your vacation through Hawaii Aloha Travel, be sure to mention you’d like to visit this extraordinary place.