Waimea Falls Hike: The Best The Best Kid Friendly Hike in Oahu

Waimea Falls Hike
Hawaii Aloha Travel > Blog > Waimea Falls Hike: The Best The Best Kid Friendly Hike in Oahu

Today, we’re sharing everything you need to know about Waimea Falls, a fantastic hiking trail on Oahu. 

If you’re coming to Hawaii with kids, you probably want to expose them to some of the islands’ beauty – hikes, waterfalls, and exotic flora.

But knowing which hikes are suitable for different ages and skill levels can be a challenge, especially if you have never been to Hawaii before. Some of Hawaii’s hikes are long, muddy, or downright dangerous. The last thing you want to do is bring your children on a hike that is too steep or too long.

Of course, every family is different, but the hike that I always recommend to families with kids – no matter their ages – is Waimea Falls. I’ve done this hike more times than I can count with people of all ages, and it’s always a hit. This hike has it all – a beautiful trail, cultural activities for children along the way, and a rewarding 45-foot waterfall at the end that you can swim in.

And best of all, Waimea Falls is fun even if you’re not visiting with kids. It’s a great trail for inexperienced hikers or anyone looking for an easier excursion.

What is Waimea Valley

Waimea Valley is not an off-the-beaten-path kind of place. It’s no secret, no hidden gem — but the trail’s touristy aspects make it perfect for keiki (Hawaiian word for children) and an adventure for adults.

Visiting here offers an immersive walk through Hawaiian history, as the valley was once home to Hawaiian high priests before being claimed by Western settlers in the 1800s. 

Today, Waimea Valley is a nonprofit that seeks to preserve the land’s natural beauty and rich Hawaiian history. Visitors can pay to access the short, paved walkway, the onsite waterfall, and cultural presentations. 

There is also a luau and other great activities on the grounds that we’ll highlight ahead. 

What to Expect When Visiting Waimea Falls

The trail in Waimea Valley is 0.75 miles each way. It’s paved, easy to walk on, and perfect for strollers. A golf cart shuttle is also available for an additional fee, making it even more accessible for visitors. 

At the end of the trail is a beautiful natural waterfall where you can swim and relax. 

Getting There

Waimea Valley is on Oahu’s North Shore, near Haleiwa. It will take you about an hour to get there from Honolulu, but once you arrive it feels like you’re in a completely different world. 


One great thing about visiting a ticketed hiking trail like Waimea Falls is that lots of parking is available. 

Inside the parking lot, you first will encounter a visitor center, snack shop, and gift shop. You don’t have to purchase tickets to enjoy these aspects of Waimea Valley. And if you’re lucky, you might see one of the resident peacocks that stroll around freely.

Admission Pricing for Waimea Falls

While many Hawaii hikes are free to visit on public property, Waimea Valley does require an entrance fee. You can purchase your tickets onsite or online in advance. 

Tickets are $25 for adults, $18 for students & seniors, and $14 for kids ages 4-12. 

Cultural Activities

With your paid admission, you can access many of the site’s daily cultural and hands-on activities. These include hula lessons, traditional lei making, Hawaiian games, crafts, music, and storytelling with kupuna (elders who are respected as a source of knowledge).

The Hike to Waimea Falls

After you purchase your tickets, a paved trail will lead you to the waterfall. It’s 3/4 miles long each way and is completely paved.

The paved trail at Waimea Valley is .75 miles each way and is suitable for children and strollers.

We Blog About Hawaii Because We Love Hawaii

The best part about this short hike is that there is so much to see and do along the way, for both adults and children. The activities that break up the trail are a great way to introduce children to both hiking and Hawaiian culture.

As a botanical garden, Waimea Valley hosts tropical flora along with rare and endangered species from all over the world. You’ll want to take your time walking in Waimea Falls to see everything along the trail.

First, you come across Hawaiian botanicals and hibiscus hybrids. On the opposite side is the Ku’ula Shrine, dedicated to the Hawaiian fishing god.

As you continue along the trail, you will also find the kauhale, a traditional Hawaiian living site. Stop by Hale Kipa, and a kupuna will teach you and your children about life in Hawaii through demonstrations of Hawaiian artifacts, songs, dance, and crafts.

This area also has plants from Guam, Hawaiian flora, food plants, and a medicinal garden. Next, there is a huge banyan tree that your family will love to see.

Of particular interest, just past the banyan tree, is the Ogasawara Islands section. The Ogasawara Islands are a World Heritage Site near Japan, and Waimea Valley is the only other place in the entire world where many of its endemic plants grow. So this section of the valley is a real treat. 


Keep walking, and you will come to the Hawaiian Games Site. There are two different types of games here: skill games and quiet games. 

The games of skill include ‘ulu maika (rolling stone disc), moa pahe’e (dart sliding), and Konane (Hawaiian checkers), which will test your accuracy and strategy.

Quiet Time Games are meant to be played by individuals or small groups. They include pala‘ie (loop and ball), hu (kukui nut tops), and kimo (jackstones).

From here, it’s not much further to find the waterfall. Enjoy Central and South American flowers along with ginger and other botanicals along the way.

The Falls

Once you get to Waimea Falls, there is a restroom and another snack bar. Lifeguards are always there to hand out lifejackets and watch everyone swimming in the falls. The waterfall is 30 feet deep, and no one is allowed in without a lifejacket. Some days, when the water is rough, no one is allowed to swim inside the waterfall at all.

Waimea Falls

Don’t forget your water shoes! It’s quite rocky to get into the waterfall. A waterproof camera is a must here, too!

Pro Tip: A golf cart shuttle is available for anyone for $10 per person each way. Many visitors hike into Waimea Falls and then take the shuttle back to the parking lot to save time and energy. You can also change into dry clothes by the waterfall after your swim. 

You’ll likely spend about 2-4 hours in Waimea Valley, depending on how long you spend playing games, talking with kupuna, and swimming in the falls. 

Other Activities

In addition to the waterfall hike and cultural presentations, Waimea Valley also hosts several special events that are great for the family. 

Toa Luau

Toa Luau at Waimea Valleys runs Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday with two showings per day: 12:30 PM and 5:00 PM. The 12:30 luau is perfect for families with young children or anyone who doesn’t want to stay up for an evening luau. A pass to hike Waimea Falls is included in your luau admission. 

Moon Walks

From May through October, Moon Walks at Waimea Valley are a way to honor Mahina (the moon) and its significance to Hawaiian culture. You’ll be able to access the valley at nighttime during full moons, which is a really unique experience. 

Best Advice for Visiting Waimea Falls

Although Waimea Valley is about an hour from Waikiki, it’s worth the trip. When you book your vacation through Hawaii Aloha Travel, be sure to mention you’d like to visit this extraordinary place. Our travel agents will make sure it’s on your itinerary and will help you find other things to do in the area.