Experience Living Hawaiian Culture at Waimea Valley:
Visitors encounter historical, cultural, botanical and ecological wonders in a pristine, natural environment.
Waimea Valley, one of O‘ahu's last partially intact ahupua‘a illuminates the rich traditions of a living Native Hawaiian culture in an unparalleled natural setting. For several years, the Valley was marketed as a visitor attraction with theme park activities.
The Valley has rich pre-contact history and remains significant to the Hawaiian people. For more than 700 years, Waimea was marked as a sacred place because of its priestly associations. Often called “the Valley of the Priests,” Waimea gained this title when the ruler of O‘ahu awarded the land to the kāhuna nui in 1090. Waimea Valley’s mission is to preserve and perpetuate the human, cultural and natural resources of Waimea for generations through education and stewardship.
Our vision is to establish Waimea Valley as a living pu‘uhonua for residents and visitors alike. It is hoped that guests will leave the Valley with a greater understanding, appreciation and respect for Hawai‘i’s history, culture and traditions.
In a recent study conducted by Archaeological Consultants of the Pacific, 78 sites of interest were identified including religious sites and shrines, house lots, agricultural terraces and fishponds. In addition, the 150-acre Arboretum and Botanical Garden contains more than 5,000 documented kinds of tropical plants including native and endangered Hawaiian plants.
Botanical Collections Specialist David Orr explains the connection between native plants and culture: “Native and Polynesian-introduced plants are the foundation of Hawaiian culture. Waimea has a rich collection of heirloom varieties of kalo, sweet potato and banana. We have one of the state’s best collection of loulu palms, the only palms in Hawai‘i before Hawaiians brought coconuts. Our diverse, world-class collection of plants is a display of over 1000 genera in over 200 plant families from all over the world in 35 separately themed gardens. One is solely devoted to the Hawaiian hibiscus included all three endangered subspecies of our state flower.”
Waimea Valley is also home to a variety of wildlife. Several native and endangered birds including the Hawaiian moorhen, the ‘alae‘ula are found in Waimea. Four out of five species of native freshwater fish can be found in Kamananui stream that runs through the Valley
To ensure that visitors have the opportunity to learn as much as possible about Waimea, several walking tours are offered. These tours are included in the admission fees and are offered daily at 10 a.m., 11 a.m. 1 p.m. and 2 p.m.. Walking tours include Native Plant, History, Wildlife and ‘Alae‘Ula Interpretation. Lei Making, Kapa demonstration, Hula lessons, Hawaiian games, and crafts, music & story telling with kūpuna are cultural activities you also can enjoy.
Along with these activities and fascinating educational displays, Ku`ono Waiwai Store features Made-In-Hawai‘i products for your shopping pleasure. Casual dining is also available to complement a pleasant day at Waimea Valley.
Waimea Valley is a living pu‘uhonua, a place of peace and safety for Hawai‘i and the world. Waimea is significant in the history of Hawai‘i and a repository for Hawaiian spirituality and traditions. The 1,875-acre valley offers an authentic cultural window into the lifestyle and customs of the Hawaiian people through daily programs and activities.