Waimea Bay Beach Park
This famed North Shore beach is an easy-to-find true Hawaiian classic. Abundant white sand and deep turquoise blue waters with no reefs or submerged rocks create a picture-perfect beach paradise. Located at the mouth of the Waimea Valley and stream, this beach is spacious, with over 300 yards of sand blanketing the bay front from end to end. The width varies according to season and surf, but in the summer it is easily 100 yards wide. Conditions vary greatly from calm in the summer to dangerous during winter swells. A must-see for any visitor to the north shore!
AT A GLANCE:
HIGHLIGHTS: Stunning long and wide beach, easy to find, huge waves during winter surf, placid and tranquil during the summer months. Lots of room to spread out on this beach.
ACTIVITIES: Swimming, sun bathing, beach walks, surf and sunset watching.
LIFEGUARD: YES 9am to 5:30pm 7 days a week. Check in with the lifeguards here if you have questions.
WARNINGS!: Beach slopes and drops off into the ocean quickly, two or three steps takes you into an overhead water depth. Avoid swimming or nearing the water during high surf episodes. The right-hand side of the beach has the river mouth, avoid this end after the rains as the currents can increase when the stream is flowing.
AMENITIES: Restrooms, parking, showers and picnic tables.
Waimea Bay is by far the deepest bay on the North Shore. Lack of near-shore reef and quick bottom drop-off makes this bay less wave-impacted until the surf gets huge. Until then the swimming is better than anywhere else on the North Shore. In summers the waves roll up to the shore and break abruptly on the sands, seemingly out of nowhere. Look to the outer right-hand portion of the bay for the rolling thunder from colossal surf during winter. The lifeguards post flags all along the beach to keep visitors informed about the swimming conditions and warn them of the hazards of the day.
There is a lot of room to spread out and step away from the crowds here. While this beach is favorite of local residents, you will not find it hard to escape the crowd if you choose. If you head left, look for tall rocky cliffs backing the beach creating a more raw, and natural landscape. The shoreline road is elevated above out of the view, and the surf sound drowns out the traffic noise.
There is a small path and stairway just to the left of the grassy picnic area between the parking lot and the beach, which leads you up to a centralized free-standing rock spire with amazing views of the beach and a small garden of native plants. Here is a video taken from there: http://youtu.be/oiZBZgzLcuk
Waimea is a legendary valley, as well as breathtakingly beautiful, with several significant native cultural sites in the area that indicate its historical importance to the ancient Hawaiians. It was the population center of Oahu's North Shore in the pre-contact Polynesian era.
In the modern times, the bay and the beach host the "Quicksilver In Memory of Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational" surf competition that occurs only when wave heights reach 20 feet or more. The contest memorializes a Waimea legend, big-wave rider and first Waimea Beach county lifeguard Eddie Aikau whose story is part of the modern day mythos of surfing. Visit this link to learn more about him. http://quiksilverlive.com/eddieaikau/2013/history.en.html
A short drive past Waimea heading east brings you to a small shopping center at the next traffic light, great for refreshment needs.
You may also like to visit this nearby cultural site for a great view:
Pu'u O Mahuka Heiau State Monument:
A location of the largest heiau (temple) in all of Oahu, this significant cultural site is on the national historic register. Unlike nearby major tourist attraction of Wailua Falls, this monument is not crowded and interpretive signs teach you about the site and the region in pre-contact Hawaii. If you would like a beach break and a fantastic view from a vantage point above the bay, a 5-minute drive can take you there. Simply head north/east on route 83 and turn right at the first traffic light by Foodland supermarket onto Pupukea road. Drive up the windy road looking for the open-gate entrance on the right and drive the entry road for about a mile to the dead end. This ancient place of worship has spectacular views of the entire coastline and the change of elevation feels noticeably cooler during the hot part of the day. Best of all it is FREE.
Ocean safety Waimea bay link:
Off of Kamehameha Highway/ route 83.
From the south:
Heading up the coast on Kamehameha Highway/ HI 83 East you will see signage and view the beach from above as you approach. As you head down hill and around the curve, slow down and signal as the entrance to the main parking lot and park is just before the bridge. Be cautious as traffic crossing the bridge can be rapid.
From the north:
Heading down the coast on Kamehameha Highway/ HI 83 West look for your only north shore traffic light at Pupukea Road and proceed with road winding inland along a wire-netted cliffside. At that point the bay and beach are on you right. The parking lot is on your right immediately after crossing the bridge over Waimea stream.
Parking tips: If the relatively small parking lot is full, you may need to wait for somebody to leave to find a space, or you can go back to the road, turn right, and look for roadside parking about 100 yards ahead on the right side. Do not park in the No-Parking zone. These spaces are a little less convenient but they have great views, and a short walk along a dirt pathway to the right facing the ocean brings you to a earthen stairway down to the beach. There is also additional parking across the bridge at the entry to Wailua Falls park.