Waimea Bay: Everything You Need to Know, From a Local

Are you looking for a guide to Waimea Bay? This article from a Hawaii local has everything you need to know!

Waimea Bay Opener

Waimea Bay is one of the most popular beaches on the North Shore of Oahu. But many of the visitors to this stunning beach barely know half of the activities that you can do there! Here is everything you need to know about Waimea Bay.

Where Is Waimea Bay?

Waimea Bay is located on the North Shore of Oahu between Haleiwa and Kahuku/Laie.

Parking for Waimea Bay is very limited. If this dedicated parking is full, you may be able to go across the street to Waimea Falls and pay $5 for parking. However, that parking section is limited as well. Street parking in the area is VERY rare.

When Is the Best Time to Go to Waimea Bay?

The best time of year to go to Waimea Bay very much depends upon the things that you want to do during your visit. If you visit in the summer, the water will be calm, so you can swim and cliff jump all you want. If you visit in the winter, the water will have those popular North Shore waves, so you can catch a few waves yourself or watch a surf competition.

As for the best time of day to visit, I would say the early morning, solely to ensure that you can find a parking space. It really is beautiful at all times of day, but if you get there after 10 a.m., you probably won’t find parking.

Waimea Bay Summer

What Can I Do at Waimea Bay?

As mentioned earlier, the activities that you can do at Waimea Bay very much depend upon what season you visit, so be sure to plan accordingly!

Swim Around

If you are visiting Waimea Bay from spring to fall – a.k.a. when the waves are not large – swimming is one of the best things to do there. Even during the summer, many of the beaches on the North Shore have decently-sized waves, which makes swimming in those waters a little more energy-draining than is ideal.

But because Waimea Bay is a bay, and therefore a little more shielded, the waves are pretty much completely gone during the summer. For this reason, this is probably my favorite beach to swim at in the summer.

Hold Your Breath and Cliff Jump

Waimea Bay is the most popular place to cliff jump on Oahu, and it is also the safest! So if you feel like getting a little taste of adrenaline, head to the left part of the beach, climb to the top of the rock that everyone else is climbing, wait your turn, hold your breath, and jump into the water!

*Note: do not attempt to cliff jump in the winter, especially when the infamous North Shore waves are rolling in! That is very dangerous!

Go for a Snorkel

Just behind the iconic cliff jumping rock I just mentioned, there is a little section of beach that most people don’t even realize is there. That is the best place to go for a snorkel.

*Bonus: if you’re a fantastic snorkeler, see if you can find the underwater tunnel and swim THROUGH the famed cliff jumping rock.

Surf Competition at Waimea Bay

Surf the Waves

And now we’ll move on to the activities to do at Waimea Bay during the winter! Surfing the huge North Shore waves is definitely the most popular thing to do at Waimea Bay during the winter.

That said, do not attempt to surf these waves unless you have a lot of experience surfing! These waves are tackled by pro surfers, so if you’re just beginning your surfing hobby or even if you’d count yourself as “intermediate,” perhaps stay away from these North Shore waves for now.

Watch a Surf Competition

The most popular surf competition held at Waimea Bay is the Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational. While this surf competition is not held every year, it is certainly one of the most loved ones on Oahu. So cross your fingers and hope that the waves are big enough for this competition to take place!

Enjoy the Sun

Regardless of what time of year it is, the sun is pretty much always shining on the North Shore of Oahu. So enjoy it and soak it in.

Find the Secret Staircase

I’m not going to give you more information than that. There is a secret staircase that looks like it was pulled out of an Indiana Jones movie. See if you can find it for an awesome view of the bay!

Waimea Bay Waves

Are There Any Restaurants Near Waimea Bay?

Waimea Bay is a little nook that’s a little more separated from the rest of the North Shore. That means that finding a place to eat is a little more difficult.

About a ten to fifteen-minute walk from Waimea Bay (towards Pipeline and away from Haleiwa), there is a bunch of food trucks. None of them are the must-eat food trucks of the North Shore, but it is food, nonetheless.

If you’re just looking for some snacks, there is a Foodland (a local grocery store) about a fifteen to twenty-minute walk away as well.

And if you’re okay with driving a little bit more, you can head to one of the best restaurants on the North Shore of Oahu.

Are There Any Hotels Near Waimea Bay?

There are no hotels near Waimea Bay. However, there are a couple of alternative accommodation options for you.

Backpackers Vacation Inn and Plantation Village

The Backpackers Vacation Inn and Plantation Village is a budget hostel that is just a two-minute walk from Waimea Bay. While it is not packed with amenities (as to be expected), its location is pretty prime.

Room rates at Backpackers Vacation Inn and Plantation Village start at $60 per person per night, although this price does depend on the season.

Book Here: Backpackers Vacation Inn and Plantation Village


There are nearly 100 Airbnbs within walking distance of Waimea Bay, including quite a few oceanfront properties. You definitely have your choice of options in this area!

Want to plan an entire day on the North Shore? Here is my Ultimate Guide to the North Shore, Oahu, Hawaii.

Have you ever been to Oahu’s Waimea Bay? Tell me about your experience in the comments!

Planning on taking a trip to Hawaii anytime soon? Or maybe just dreaming about an unplanned future trip to the islands? Pin this post for later!

Everything to Know About Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii #waimeabay #oahu #hawaii #northshore
A Local's Guide to Waimea Bay, Oahu, Hawaii #waimeabay #oahu #hawaii #northshore

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  1. We enjoyed our trip to Waimea in summer 2018, including jumping off The Rock, swimming, and taking a nap in the shade. The secret staircase sounds fascinating, can you give me a hint about how to find it? Also, is it possible to park a vehicle to the north of the bay (before coming downhill, with the bay on the right hand side) and then walk 10-15 minutes to a place that overlooks the bay? Mahalo!!

    1. Hi Brandon! Thanks for the great questions! I’m glad you enjoyed your trip to Waimea Bay in 2018.

      To answer your question about parking your car north of the bay, it is possible, but not many people do it, because it’s hard to get a view that captures the WHOLE bay. If you do want to park to the north, consider parking at the next beach over (Three Tables – although parking gets filled quite early there) or even at Foodland (just be sure to buy your snacks and drinks for you beach day at Foodland!). Hopefully you’ll be able to catch a good view of the bay on your walk down from there! But if your main goal is an amazing view of the bay (and not necessarily the parking situation), consider stopping by Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site. While this site is meant to showcase the ruins of an ancient Hawaiian temple, it also has one of the best views of Waimea Bay.

      As for your hint to find the secret staircase, look for the part of the bay with the most greenery, and start your search there :). Let me know if you find it!!

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