Waimea Valley, located along the North Shore, is a place unlike any other. Open to the public daily as a visitor attraction, it is at its core, a very sacred and historical site.
With its lush valleys, abundant resources and free-flowing streams, Waimea Valley was given to the kahuna nui (high priests) as early as 1092 AD. Kahuna nui were experts in their field of study, whether individuals were expert healers, fishermen or prophets. Their roles were important to the ali‘i (chiefly class) and maka‘āinana (common classes). Being the home to many of the kahuna class, Waimea Valley came be known as “The Valley of the Priests.”
Waimea Valley’s Events & Marketing Manager Kimberly Anguiano says, “At Waimea, there are over 70 archaeological sites on 1,875 acres. Six of the sites are visible to the public—Hale O Lono (Hawaiian god of peace, fertility, agriculture, rainfall and music), Kau Hale, Wailele, Ku‘ula Fishing Shrine, Hale Iwi and the agricultural terraces.”
Anguiano says visitors can learn about these sites and the valley’s history through their daily cultural tours or a pre-scheduled private tour. “We try to connect to the local community and our visitors to educate them more about this special ahupuaʻa (land division) that has so much important history and plays a role in today’s community.”
Waimea Valley has beautiful natural attractions such as the 40-foot natural rain-fed waterfall and a world-class botanical garden, but what’s truly unique about this valley is “being able to walk the land that the Hawaiian people walked for thousands of years,” says Anguiano. “There are agricultural terrace walls over 700 years old that still stand untouched.”
To help visitors and residents understand the cultural significance and history of the valley, events such as Kalo & Awa Day, May Day, Makahiki Festival, and the Summer Concert Series with Hawaiian music and hula are held each year.
Anguiano moved from Los Angeles to the North Shore four years ago. “I grew up in Los Angeles, a large city with many different cultures, and with over 200 languages spoken,” she shares. “I felt an immediate attraction to Waimea Valley when I came to visit as a tourist.
“To be able to work and be a steward to this ahupua‘a is not an opportunity that comes often. If you come and disconnect from your phones, schedules and your next destination, the valley has a way to calm you so you can enjoy the beauty and mana (divine power) all around you that is Hawai‘i. To be able to work at a place that offers you this every day is priceless.”
Anguiano’s advice to visitors is to “Come ready to explore and learn!” Ideal for all ages, Waimea Valley has unique wildlife, historical sites, cultural and botanical tours, the waterfall, Hawaiian games, a gift shop, plus food at the Na Mea Ono snack bar. Get ready for a full day of fun!