Waimea Bay Beach has amazing snorkeling, rock jumping, underwater tunnels, sea turtles, rock climbing, and prime sunsets.
How could we possibly pick a favorite beach when we are on an island paradise with so many amazing beaches? Looking back on our time spent on Oahu, it became clear to us that so many of our favorite memories were at the beautiful Waimea Bay.
So what is it that makes this bay a year-round go-to spot on the North Shore of Oahu? Here are the 11 REASONS Waimea Bay is our favorite beach on Oahu.
1. JUMPING OFF THE ROCK AT WAIMEA BAY
The first thing you notice when you arrive at Waimea Bay is the huge rock sitting on the shoreline, half-submerged in the crystal clear water. A group of thrill-seekers gathers on top of the rock, taking deep breaths before making a leap of faith into the water below. The rock gets jumped from, hundreds if not thousands of times each day. Whether you are an onlooker or doing a backflip from the rock, everyone enjoys a cliff-jump, except those landing flat on their back. While the water is almost always deep enough to jump in, it’s always good to do a quick check before making the leap and making the decision whether it is safe for you, as everyone has different experience and landing techniques.
2. UNDERWATER TUNNELS AT WAIMEA BAY
I had visited Waimea Bay too many times to count, but it wasn’t until one of my last visits to the bay that I heard people talking about the tunnels underneath the rock. We decided to check them out and after seeing several people glide through the underwater tunnel we agreed to all give it a go. This was a seriously cool experience yet still relatively safe if you are an average or better swimmer. There are several tunnels but the main one, also closest to the shore, is only a five-second swim through an eerie cave. Fish swim around you as you push through towards the light on the other side.
3. WATER CLARITY
The water is crystal clear on a calm day to the point where you can see the details on your toes as you look down towards the sand. I once swam out over 200 yds from the shore where the depth is getting towards 30+ ft. I saw something white all the way at the bottom of the ocean and managed to make out a beautiful looking shell. I am not great at free diving but thought I ought to try this one time. Well I almost blew my head off with the pressure but it was worth the shell I gave to Jessie once I got back to shore. Point of the story: The water is so clear you can spot a small shell in the depths of the ocean to give to your girlfriend.
4. AMAZING SNORKELING AT WAIMEA BAY
It isn’t just the clear water that makes the snorkeling at Waimea Bay out of this world. Huge rocks the size of houses make you feel incredibly small as you dive amongst them. There are so many different species of fish in Waimea Bay and some of them are seriously huge. Even if all you see is fish and the imposing underwater scenery during your snorkel, you will be blown away.
5. SO MANY SEA TURTLES AT WAIMEA BAY
If you have snorkeled in Hawaii before, you may have come to expect more than fish when you put on your fins and goggles and hit the ocean. While most visitors are happy just to see a few fish, a snorkel on Oahu isn’t complete without coming across a Hawaiian Sea Turtle floating around. Waimea Bay is one of my favorite turtle spots on the island and there are often 3-4 beautiful turtles very close to the shore feeding around the huge rock formations below the surface. The last time we were at Waimea Bay we had to check below us for turtles before we jumped from the rock as that’s how often they were seen swimming around. To find out about the best spots to snorkel with Hawaiian Sea Turtles on Oahu click here.
6. WAIMEA BAY ROCK CLIMBING
Waimea Bay also has a unique element few other beaches on the island can boast. A huge natural rock-climbing wall at the back of the beach is often a hangout for amateur climbers testing their ability, scaling the 20-foot rock wall. This area of the beach is a hangout for a mixture of talented people from rock climbers to fire twirlers. I have never felt quite cool enough to head back there and embarrass myself climbing the rock but it sure is interesting to watch guys and girls scaling the wall in a matter of seconds. If you like rock climbing you should check out the Pali Notches Hike.
7. THE BACKDROP
Behind the rock wall is a beautiful backdrop of the valley. Waimea Valley is a lush green oasis that leads all the way to Waimea Falls. Although you cannot see the falls, I am a sucker for a great backdrop at a beach and it is awesome to look back from the ocean to a wall of impressive mountains.
8. UNBELIEVABLY HUGE WAVES AT WAIMEA BAY
In the winter Waimea Bay is far from a snorkeling beach, in fact, it is not even swimmable for a few months. However, it retains its entertaining qualities with some of the biggest waves in the world. So big in fact, that one of the most prestigious surf competitions, The Quiksilver in Memory of Eddie Aikau, is held here I never thought I would see waves this big in my life but we were able to sit on the cliffs and watch 40ft+ waves roll through. Outstandingly courageous surfers push their limits and tackle these absolute monster waves to the delight of the crowds who come to witness the spectacle. I also have a gallery of my 18 favorite surf photos I have taken while on Oahu.
9. RIVER SURFING
An obscure feature of Waimea Bay is the river channel that runs all the way from the Waimea Falls into the ocean. Quite often the channel doesn’t reach the ocean but on several occasions each year the channel will burst through into the ocean with such ferocity it becomes a surf break in itself. If you get lucky enough to witness people surfing this powerful river, enjoy the rarity of the amazing spectacle because it truly is unbelievable to watch.
10. SPECTACULAR SUNSETS AT WAIMEA BAY
The north shore of Oahu is a prime spot to watch a sunset, and where better than Waimea Bay. People continue to jump off of the rock until the last light which makes for some great photos and a peaceful ending to the day.
11. THE FOOD TRUCKS NEAR WAIMEA BAY
A great beach with so much to do is going to make you hungry so where do you eat. Of course, you can bring your own snacks but why bother when the food trucks are just a short walk down the road. We often complete a sun-soaked day by trudging up the hill to get a fresh plate of pad thai or the famous north shore garlic shrimp from the food trucks. The food trucks, which all have outdoor seating, are lit up by fairy lights and this is how we love to end a great day at Waimea Bay.
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!