North Shore Adventures – Waimea Valley & Ka‘ena Point
Whether you’re visiting O’ahu for the first time or you’re an island resident, the North Shore is a year-round playground that tempts with endless days of adventure, beachcombing, watersports, hiking, and surfing. You could spend 100 days exploring the fabled North Shore and never do the same thing twice. Many of the O‘ahu real estate agents at our North Shore office are lucky to live, work, and play in this splendid locale. We asked them to tell us about a few of their favorite North Shore activities.
Our agents recommended an afternoon in the beautiful Waimea Valley at Waimea Falls Park. Located right across from Waimea Bay, you can learn about the history of Native Hawaiian culture, games, and farming practices here. Hi‘ipaka, a local non-profit organization, has taken on the stewardship of this spectacularly beautiful valley, which is a place of strong spiritual connection for Native Hawaiians. While the valley changed hands many times in recent centuries, it was originally reserved for ancient Hawaiian high priests or Kahuna.
With that in mind, a visit to the valley is a pilgrimage to one of the most sacred places in the islands. Today, the mission of Hi‘ipaka is to “preserve and perpetuate the human, cultural, and natural resources of Waimea for generations through education and stewardship.” There are cultural sites as well as a beautiful botanical garden within the valley, with guided tours of both. Find your bliss by taking in the natural sounds of the waterfall and birds singing throughout the valley, or look for endemic species of birds and fish. There are entrance fees to the valley with special rates for kama‘aina and military, though the educational tours provided by Hi‘ipaka are complimentary.
59-864 Kamehameha Hwy., Haleiwa, HI 96712, (808) 638-7766
GPS Address – Waimea Valley Road, Haleiwa, Hawai‘i 96712
As you head farther west past Waialua, gear up for some scenic hikes at Mokulēʻia and Ka‘ena Point. Hiking up into the mountains here will take you to breathtaking vistas and some great opportunities to snap panoramic photos of the North Shore. Hiking along the northern sea edge to the end of the island, where the North Shore meets the Waiʻanae Coast at Ka‘ena Point is another special treat. Ka‘ena Point is the westernmost point of O‘ahu, considered in ancient times the “jumping off place” for departing souls, where their spirits could be reunited with their ancestors. This sacred and unique location will give you an entirely new appreciation for sunsets.
Since much of this area can only be traveled by footpath, it is a delicate dune ecosystem that harbors a number of Native Hawaiian plant and animal species, including the endangered Laysan albatross that nests here. Protected by a fence from predators like dogs, cats, mongoose, and pigs that prey on them, it’s a rare occasion to spot these seabirds. Ka‘ena Point Natural Area Reserve was established in 1983 to protect the rare plant and animal life in this unique locale, which is a nature preserve that protects some of the hardest to find species in the islands. Subject to salt spray, pounding surf and winds, they’ve made this rugged coastal terrain their home for thousands of years, some finding their way here in an unlikely path across the Pacific. While we highly recommend this experience, we ask you to please tread lightly in this area so as not to disturb one of the last remaining dune ecosystems in Hawai‘i.