It’s time for another Hiking in Hawaii post! At the end of January my friend Steph and I decided to try out another kid-friendly hike on Oahu. This time we chose to visit Waimea Valley, which has an easy, paved trail that leads you to Waimea Falls- a beautiful waterfall that you can swim in! Waimea Valley is privately owned by a non-profit organization, so it does have an admission fee (discounted for military and kama’aina), but it’s well worth it for all of the ancient Hawaiian cultural experiences and botanical gardens along the way. It’s located on the North Shore of Oahu just past Haleiwa and directly across from Waimea Bay. It was fun for toddlers, parents and grandparents alike, and I can’t wait to do this again. If you’re looking for a kid-friendly (and stroller-friendly) hike in Hawaii that is fun for the whole family, the Waimea Valley Trail is for you!
Hiking in Hawaii: Waimea Valley Trail
The morning started out bright and early. Beaches, hikes and tourist attractions are often less crowded if you get an early start, so we always try to be the first ones there whenever we do anything. Waimea Valley opens at 9AM, and because we were early the kids and I stopped by Waimea Bay for a little while first. This is one of my favorite beaches on Oahu and I seize every opportunity I get to stop by. The waves are much too large for swimming in the winter, but it’s always fun to see. Once 9AM rolled around we headed over to Waimea Valley, which is directly across the street.
The 1.9 mile round-trip Waimea Valley Trail hike includes beautiful ponds, lots of birds, a botanical garden, examples of ancient Hawaiian buildings, a place where you can learn about and play ancient Hawaiian games (the kids loved it), and a gorgeous and swim-able waterfall. There are a couple different ways for you to walk, so you can choose your own path and still get to the same place. We walked along the stream for a while, took the higher path on the way back, but mostly we just stayed on the paved road.
The kids carried maps and bird identification charts that were handed out at the entrance, and they had the best time “discussing” everything they were seeing. I had no clue that kids loved maps so much! They seriously never wanted to put them down and kept having little huddles to talk about it all. So cute!
Caroline, who was 16 months old at the time, rode in the Osprey child carrier much of the time, but it was a kid-friendly enough hike that we were able to let her run around for a while too. We love our Osprey so much, and if you’re in the market for a structured child carrier I can’t recommend this one enough.
If you want to swim, be sure to bring your swimsuit. There are restrooms where you can change once you get there, which is really nice. They also provide you with lifejackets if you swim. We didn’t bring our swimsuits so we didn’t get to swim in the waterfall, but it looked like everyone who did it had a really enjoyable time.
Waimea Valley may be one of my favorite places on the island now. I long for outings where I can just let Jack run free and have fun without saying “no” all the time, and at Waimea Valley I was able to do just that. It’s safe, wide open, incredibly kid-friendly and was a refreshing experience for all of us. If you have little kids, or if you’re simply interested in learning about ancient Hawaiian culture I cannot recommend Waimea Valley enough. They even have shuttles that you can pay for if you’re not up for the walk. I can’t wait to do this hike again!