The Manoa Falls Hike – Oahu, Hawaii

Hiking Manoa Falls is like stepping back into the Jurassic era. Huge trees fill the sky and a web of vines crawl up the stalks to fill every inch of sunny real estate. The call of birds sings through the forest. You can imagine huge dinosaurs roaming freely through the bushes. The best part is this view, which prompts this vivid Jurassic dream, is only five minutes into the trail. You’ll soon be immersed completely in nature.


The Manoa Falls Trail is located at the end of the Manoa Valley, right next door to the Lyon Arboretum. If you are physically capable, then you can park on the street before the entrance and save $5. Otherwise driving into the park will save a ten minute walk, but you’ll have to pay those few bucks.

For those in Waikiki, you can catch the bus which takes you to the park entrance. This is actually a good option as it saves you the need to rent a car or moped. Or an Uber or Lyft to the trailhead would be good enough, and not too expensive either.

From there, it’s a fairly straightforward trail. Just keep walking up the road till it turns into a dirt path. The trail is heavily trafficked, so it is almost impossible to get lost. The only major consideration is the mud on the trail, which can leave you on your butt in no time. Just make sure to take careful steps and you’ll be good. 

The total trip is 1.6 miles roundtrip and will take about an hour to complete. The total time depends on how much time is spent at the falls, and whether you jump into the small pool at the top. You’ll want to consider that leptospirosis, a water-borne disease, is prevalent within all of Hawaii’s streams and rivers. If you have cuts or scratches, consider staying out and not ingesting the water. But other than that, the hike is very safe – even kid friendly. The last tip would be to avoid heavy rain days as flash floods might occur.

On the way, you’ll pass so many different kinds of trees. Some of them even have fruit on them during the year. Part of the trail goes through a bamboo forest. It’s refreshing to be on such an easy trail, so that you can use your energy towards enjoying the scenery rather than focusing on exercise.

Then, 30 minutes after hiking, you’ll see the forest open up and a small trickle of water appear. The whole waterfall comes into view just a minute later. It’s almost 150 feet tall.

It’s not recommended, but you could climb over the ropes and see the waterfall up close. Just make sure to choose a day that’s not raining. Flash floods are a real danger. But going under the falls is completely refreshing and necessary after this quick hike.

Then it’s back to the forest to the start of the trail.

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