Waimea may get lots of press for the giant winter waves in the bay, but the valley itself is a newsmaker and an ecological treasure in its own right. The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is working to conserve and restore the natural habitat. Follow the Kamananui Stream up the valley through the 1,800 acres of gardens. The botanical collections here include more than 5,000 species of tropical flora, including a superb gathering of Polynesian plants. It's the best place on the
island to see native species, such as the endangered Hawaiian moorhen. You can also see the remains of the Hale O Lono heiau (temple) along with other ancient archaeological sites; evidence suggests that the area was an important spiritual center. Daily activities include hula lessons, native plant walks, and traditional Hawaiian games, depending on how many staff members are working on a given day. At the back of the valley, Waihi Falls plunges 45 feet into a swimming pond. Bring your board shorts—a swim is the perfect way to end your hike. Be sure to bring mosquito repellent, too; it can get buggy.
Mar 8, 2006
Absolutely a hidden gem. We didn't see that many birds - lots of rain - but the multitude of plants and the descriptions of native Hawaiian life were well worth the walk. One of the best labeled gardens that I have visited. You can see where plants have come from which enhances the story of the island. The valley was used by native Hawaiians and many of their relics and customs have been preserved here. Really gives a great overview of the lifestyle.
The path through the garden leads up and you can see how the vegetation changes with the change in elevation. Wonderful surprise waterfall at the end of the path. Due to rain we couldn't swim, but on a warm day would make a lovely respite. They are fully equipped so that you can change and be comfortable. We didn't encounter the mosquitos they warn you about but can imagine that a clearer day would bring them out in droves.