Where to Swim at a Waterfall in Oahu

As you are planning activities for your Oahu vacation, you might want to consider swimming at a waterfall for a unique experience.

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Waihi - Waimea Falls

On Oahu, there’s not an abundance of waterfalls that the public can access. Manoa Falls is an amazing Oahu waterfall, but visitors aren’t allowed to swim there. The good news is that  Waimea Falls (also known as Waihi) in Waimea Valley offers a safe place to swim at a waterfall. Friendly lifeguards are on duty . Life vests are available for you use. A changing room and restrooms are also available here. I don’t think there’s anywhere else in Hawaii where you’ll find these safety features and facilities at a waterfall.

You must pay an admission fee to get into the valley. Once you’ve paid the fee, you’ll have to walk approximately 3/4 of mile on paved paths to get to the waterfall.

Besides Waimea Waterfall, there’s plenty to see in this valley that features botanical gardens and some Hawaiian history and cultural information. If you go, print the second page of  this brochure (pdf). I really wish this place did more to help guide visitors to their attractions as they offer no maps and minimal guidance once you have paid your admission.

Waimea Valley is open daily from 9am – 5pm. It’s located on the North Shore of Oahu across from Waimea Beach. For more information, visit their website.

Here’s a video Andy shot during our visit to Waimea Falls. (Email subscribers: click here to access the video.)

For fans of the television show LOST, Waimea Falls may look familiar to you. In the earlier seasons, the plane crash survivors collected fresh water here. Kate and Sawyer also had a romantic swim here.

Have you been to Waimea Falls for a swim? What did you think of your visit?


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About Sheila Beal

Sheila Beal is the founder and editor of Go Visit Hawaii. You can connect with Sheila Beal on Twitter, Go Visit Hawaii on Facebook, or Sheila Beal on Google+.

8 comments

  1. Love it! When we went we didn’t know you could swim so didn’t go prepared. My son was just turned 5 and he announced he was going to slide down the waterfall. Ouch! ha ha!

  2. I went to this waterfall when I was in Oahu for Christmas last year. I was the first one there that day and the first one in the water. Most of the people that showed up later were afraid to go in. I loved having it to myself for over an hour. The lifeguards were awesome. They watched my stuff for me (as I was by myself) and offered to take pictures of me with my camera. I highly recommend going there. The waterfall is located in a botanical garden (the reason for the entrance fee)which was really fun to checkout after my swim.

    • Kathleen – how cool that you had the waterfall all to yourself for a while! The lifeguards that were there when we were there were super nice. Glad you had a good experience!

      • We went in November of 2009 and the water was sooo dirty that we did not dare go in..our tour guide also turned us off by saying to be pre warned that animals sometimes use this as their “relieving” area. yuck..the gardens are absolutely beautiful but you couldn’t pay me to go in that water!

        • Lisa – that’s too bad that the water was dirty. My initial guess was maybe you were visiting after they had a heavy rain which carried mud down the stream from the mountain. Wonder if that might have been the case.

          I have to wonder if your tour guide might have been pulling your leg a little. There’s not a lot of animals there around the pool and animals don’t normally go to a waterfall pool to do their business. But, stranger things can happen. :)

  3. I don’t think he was pulling my leg, because it just wasn’t me in the tour but about six of us, and none of us dared go in..It also had a bad smell. It was really disappointing, because it was supposed to be the highlight of the tour and it turned out to be
    disappointing. It may have been that day, because of bad run off, but no one was in the water at all. They should close it off or post a sign before you pay so at least you know before hand you cannot swim in it when you enter and pay.

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