DescriptionAfter Capt. James Cook was slain on Hawai‘i Island in 1779, his crew stopped here to replenish their water supply. They were the first Europeans to visit O‘ahu and described the Waimea Valley as lush, picturesque and densely settled. Floods that devastated the valley and silted up the mouth of the bay in 1894 forced most of the population to relocate. Perched on a bluff above Waimea Bay, the town is accessible via Pūpūkea Road.
The nearby North Shore beaches are world-renowned surfing venues. Waimea Bay, just south of town, offers a steep crescent of sand. Giant waves that form here in the winter attract surfers from around the world. In summer the sea can be as flat as a lake. Note: Swimmers should always check with lifeguards about conditions.
Pūpūkea Beach Park, just north of Waimea in the Pūpūkea Marine Life Conservation District, features tide pools to explore at Old Quarry—the lava and coral rock are very sharp, so water shoes are a good idea.
South of Pūpūkea Beach Park on Pūpūkea Road is Pu‘u O Mahuka Heiau , which is believed to have been built in the 1600s. This temple site covers more than 5 acres. Signs have been placed on the grounds describing its significance to ancient Hawaiian culture. Some believe human sacrifice occurred here. The site offers a good view of the Pacific Ocean. Note: Heiau are culturally significant and should be treated with respect.
Ehukai Beach Park, 2.5 miles north on SR 83, has the famous Banzai Pipeline, a curling wave that forms off the left end of the beach.
With waves that can reach 25 feet in height, Sunset Beach, 3 miles north on SR 83, is among the island's top winter surfing spots. Even in the calmer summer months, swimmers should beware of the long shore current. Windsurfers flock to Backyards, a surf break off the north end of Sunset Beach.