The hours vary by season. The Waimea Valley is open from 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. during the winter months, but the park stays open an extra half-hour during the summer months to close at 5:30 pm.
Hike Through Time, Flora & Fauna
You'll be able to grab a map of the trails inside the valley from the representative working at the gate. The trails are well-signposted and easy to find. There's even a shuttle to the falls for the very young, elderly and mobility challenged. The shuttle simply drives up the paved road that serves as the hiking trail all the way to the falls.
The path to the falls is 3.5 miles long, but don't let the sheer distance of the hike deter you. It's an easy path with very little elevation gain and it's paved. You'll meander through the rainforest while enjoying placards telling you of the different plants in the area. You'll also walk by some of Hawaii's historical sites as you make your way to the famous waterfall.
You'll emerge from the rainforest as you hear the roar of the falls. Then you'll hit a clearing. The falls drop 45 feet at the other end of the clearing and the mist of the falls dazzles in the sunlight.
You will have to time your hike perfectly in order to enjoy the scenery in all of its glory. While the 3.5-mile hike isn't difficult, it does take time. In fact, it could take you up to four hours to complete, so make sure you set out on the trail before 1:00 p.m. in order to have time to leave the park before closing.
Finding Oahu's Verdant Waimea Valley
The Waimea Valley sits inland from the very northern edge of Oahu. You can take H1 West out of Honolulu before turning right at a fork for H2 North. You'll drive over the interior of the island as the road changes from H2 North to HI-99 North to HI-80 then back to HI-99 and finally to HI-83 East. You'll find the valley on the inland side of the coastal road from the Waimea Beach Parking Lot.
The Chance for an Excursion
The north shore of Oahu is vastly different than the south shore. You'll leave the hustle and bustle of Honolulu behind when you venture up north, and you'll be able to enjoy a more country-style laid back atmosphere. There are also some world-class sites to enjoy.
The north shore boasts attractions like the Polynesian Cultural Center and the life-changing Turtle Beach. But most people venture to the north shore for the world-famous surfing beaches of Banzai Pipeline, Sunset Beach and Ehukai Beach Park.
During wintertime, these beaches have some of the world's best and biggest surfing waves, and they host some of the world's most important professional surfing competitions. They are a great place to hang out in order to watch world-class surfers.
But the north shore's waters become glass-calm in the summertime which makes the beaches a tropical paradise for swimmers, snorkelers and tan enthusiasts.
So, if you're thinking of heading north to enjoy the waterfall, botanical garden and valley, then consider getting a hotel up there to spend a few days. It's a quiet respite from the crowded city of Honolulu.