When you’ve tired of the sightseeing and tourist attractions on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu and are searching for authenticity instead, there’s no closer match than the historical marker that lives and breathes culture from which it originally derived – Waimea Valley.
Situated on O’ahu’s North Shore across from Waimea Bay (59-864 Kamehameha Highway, Haleiwa, HI 96712) on 1800 acres of land, Waimea Valley encompasses a lush juggernaut of botanical goodness that is infused with rich characteristics carefully comprised of old and new traditions.
Evidence suggests that the Hawaiian Islands were first settled by Polynesians, probably from Tahiti and the Marquesas, about 2,000 years ago. Windward coastal sites like Waimea Valley, with fertile valley floors, ample fresh water, and good offshore fishing were among the earliest places inhabited.
During the 12th century A.D., a great spiritual leader named Pa‘ao arrived in Hawai‘i. He introduced the use of stone terraces and walls for heiau, or temples, and also installed a priesthood that endured for centuries.
Early Hawaiians developed a very sophisticated agricultural system, which included a series of terraces and irrigation ditches. Here they grew taro, sweet potato, bananas and other crops, and raised pigs, chickens and dogs.
Today, visitors of all ages and backgrounds can enjoy a 3.5-mile self-guided nature walk to the park’s 40-foot Waimea Falls, learn Hawaiian games and crafts, listen to music and storytelling, and explore every nook and cranny of the tranquil garden landscapes
Photos of Waimea Valley by Steph Brusig.