So Waimea Falls is one of Oahu’s popular waterfalls.
The sort of setting that Waimea Falls is in doesn’t particularly feel like you’re “in nature” like most other waterfall visits in Hawaii. (For example like Manoa Falls on Oahu.)
But if you’re looking for some waterfall swimming on Oahu, and you like the idea of swimming in natural waterfalls in a relatively safe and comfortable environment, then Waimea Falls might be for you!
This may possibly be the “safest” waterfall swimming you’ll find on Oahu.
Waimea Valley requires life vests if you want to go swimming at Waimea Falls:
All guests who would like to experience a swim at the falls are required to wear a life vest.
Life vests are provided by our lifeguards at the waterfall and the price of the life vest is included in your admission fee.
And, if you like botanical gardens, and/or you want to experience a bit of Hawaiian culture, it could also be a good excuse to visit the Waimea Valley nature park!
There’s a pretty good collection of plants at the Waimea Valley botanical gardens that includes native species, as well as plants found in different parts of the world.
The trail to Waimea Falls is a mostly paved path (another reason it might feel a little less like a more “very Hawaii” waterfall hike), and there are sights to see along the way.
As described by the people of Waimea Valley:
The walk up the main pathway is a paved path through our world-class botanical gardens and historical sites up to the waterfall area.
Can you get to Waimea Falls by bus?
Well, the simple answer is yes, you can.
But the better question is do YOU want to go to Waimea Falls by bus?! Unless you are staying on the North Shore, it will be quite a long bus ride. Possibly 2 hours or more one way if you’re coming by bus from Waikiki. And it will likely require a bus transfer.
You can also make a day of it by going to Waimea Falls, and then afterwards walk across the road to Waimea Bay, one of the best beaches on the North Shore. Or you can walk a mile down the road to Sharks Cove, one of the best snorkeling spots on Oahu. There is also a bus stop near Sharks Cove. Walking from Waimea Falls to Sharks Cove, you will also pass by a grocery store where you can pick up picnic food! (That would be Foodland Pupukea.)
See more about the best of the North Shore in this area!
A bit more about making a visit to Waimea Falls below!
Here's some info on Hawaii trip prep!
- Best shoes for hiking in Hawaii
- The perfect type of shirt for swimming in Hawaii
- Do you need water shoes for Hawaii?
- THE top things to pack for Hawaii
PLUS... Oahu tour, or on your own: Can you visit Pearl Harbor without a tour?
Cost of Waimea Valley entry fee
While there are lots of free things you can do on Oahu, a visit to Waimea Valley does require an entry fee.
The admissions fee for Waimea Valley is $18 per person. You can buy tickets when you arrive at the park. Check current fees here.
More from the people of Waimea Valley about swimming at Waimea Falls:
The natural rain fed 45-foot waterfall cascades into the 30-foot deep pond.
Swimming at the waterfall is allowed but the status of swimming changes throughout the day depending on the weather.
There are three waterfall conditions: regular swim, limited swimming, and no swimming.
Be sure to check on the waterfall swimming status before your visit by calling (808) 638-7766.
If the status of the waterfall is no swimming on the day of your visit we offer guests free admission into Waimea Valley within 10 days of your admission receipt to enjoy the waterfall.
Please note that this is a natural waterfall pool and we do recommend reef walkers or river shoes for jagged and slippery rocks.
The “reef walkers” or “river shoes” mentioned can be good to have as water shoes for snorkeling too! Consider this part of your everyday essentials for Hawaii no matter what activities you have planned!
General tip for waterfall swimming on Oahu
Finally, it is always recommended that you avoid waterfall swimming in Hawaii if you have open wounds. Hawaii is home to the bacteria leptospirosis, and it’s said that swimming in fresh water with open wounds can increase the risk of contracting it.
And that’s a bit about what a visit to the Waimea Valley waterfalls can be like!
See more about what to do on the North Shore alongside a visit to Waimea Valley:
- Things to do on the North Shore
- Beaches on the North Shore
- Where to see turtles on the North Shore
- North Shore marine life conservation district (aka top snorkeling spot!)
- Another beginner-friendly snorkeling spot on the North Shore
- North Shore pillbox hike with ocean views
HAPPY SWIMMING AT WATERFALLS IN OAHU AT WAIMEA FALLS!
Top things to pack for your Hawaii vacation!
The ultimate beach towel for travel?!Turkish towels are considered to be more absorbent and lightweight than your average beach towel. Be sure to check out turkish towels like these!
Possibly among the best Oahu maps for tourists!The Franko maps of Hawaii have a high level of detail for activities and it's beachproof aka waterproof. There's an "adventure" guide map and a "snorkel/dive" guide map. Plus a wall map for home to get you excited for your upcoming trip to Honolulu!
The cheapo way to waterproof your phoneYou can take underwater pictures with a simple waterproof phone case like this. Touch screen may not work well underwater - try the volume button to snap the pic instead!
Get your suitcase more organized!Packing cubes can make it so you're spending less time on your vacation looking for things! They are basically a form of drawers in your suitcase. Take a look at these packing cubes.
Wear less sunscreen by wearing a UPF swim shirt!Wearing a swim shirt means less skin that's exposed to the sun which means less sunscreen you need to apply! See about wearing swim shirts with UV protection like these when you're snorkeling.
Be sure to take a look at the reviews of these amazing tours on the Oahu:
- Sailing the ocean on a Hawaiian canoe to a small island
- Hidden gems of Oahu circle island tour + North Shore snorkeling
- Kayaking the ocean to a small island
- Dream Hawaii helicopter flight: Oahu waterfalls, mountains, and valleys including the North Shore and Sacred Falls
- Sunset cruise on the ocean