Families gather at this North Shore cove—all golden sand and peacock-colored swells—in summertime. Adventurous types swarm the rocky headland—a riotous scene that resembles Where’s Waldo? or Richard Scarry’s Busytown—and jump into the ocean, despite warning signs. But in winter, they cede the ground to world-class surfers riding some of the planet’s biggest waves. Across the highway stretches historic Waimea Valley. Today it contains a low-key botanical garden, the ruins of traditional architecture, and a 40-foot sacred waterfall at the end of a two-mile out-and-back easy trail. Locals call it Waihee (softly trickling water) in dry periods and Waihi (purging water) when the pressure picks up.

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Rolling Waves

If you are looking for high surf, winter is the time of year to visit Hawaii. And, Waimea Bay is where you can find some of the biggest walls of water tumbling into the beach. Lifeguards bark instructions to a wayward crowd who are tempted by the sea and they look out for children who find themselves in the way of the next massive set. Surfers in the distance wait for the best swell to roll their way and crowds “ooh” and “aww” when the big waves crash on the sand. Waimea Valley also boasts a nice paved trail to Waimea Falls. You will want to visit after it has rained or all you will see is a trickle. The trail is flanked by well-maintained botanical gardens representing places around the Pacific Ocean. On a calmer day, you will also find folks jumping off Waimea Rock. There is no doubt that you will find something to do if you park at Waimea Valley and wander around a bit!

Exhilarating North Shore

The North Shore on Hawaii’s Oahu island is not to be missed. If you’re looking for adventure and something exhilarating other than the normal activities, you must go to Waimea Bay. Not only is this one of Ohau’s prettiest beaches, it is also home to the famous Waimea Bay Rock. Grab your sunscreen and your camera and jump from the rock at least once. Best: it’s free.

Cliff Jumping on Oahu's North Shore

Waimea Bay on the North Shore of O’ahu is a sunlit, tranquil, and turquoise place of family fun in summer; home of pounding shorebreaks for adventurous surfers in winter; and a filming location for the TV show Lost. I love how Hawaii has a little bit of everything.

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