Dubbed “Oahu’s most accessible waterfall”, Manoa Falls is not just relatively easy to get to, but also extremely impressive for such a non-remote waterfall.
Manoa Falls is fairly close to Waikiki and offers a 0.8-mile hike to a gorgeous 100-foot waterfall tucked into lush Hawaiian jungle. You can either take a bus there or drive (if you drive, consider skipping the $5 parking lot and finding a free spot in the residential area a quarter of a mile away).
Although the waterfall will certainly be a highlight of your Hawaiian vacation, don’t discount the experience of the hike in and out. It’s called Manoa (Hawaiian for “thick, dense, vast, etc.”) for a reason: the entire journey is a feast of the senses! Breezes winding through dense bamboo groves, the scent of guava, eucalyptus, and wild ginger in the air, and the stunning site of Hawaiian wildflowers and imposing banyan trees everywhere you look. Unforgettable!
Manoa Falls trail is well maintained, but you should be sure to wear sensible shoes nonetheless (don’t be one of the goofballs attempting the hike in flip-flops/slippers/sandals!). The Manoa valley gets the most rain of all of Oahu, so the trail can definitely be muddy and it’s a good idea to bring a light rain jacket (although if you do go right after a good downpour, that’s when you’ll get the fullest, most impressive waterfall).
Things to Note:
You aren’t allowed to swim in the pool at the base of Manoa Falls due to a rock slide that happened a number of years ago; plus, as with all freshwater streams and rivers in Hawaii, there is a risk of leptospirosis and need to make sure to keep the water out of your eyes, mouth, and any open wounds (even the small scratches) on your body.
Another cool thing about Manoa Falls is that it provided the tropical backdrop for scenes from both the movie Jurassic Park and the hit TV series Lost. So if some of it feels a little familiar to you, that’s probably because it is!
Once your hike is over, make sure to stop by Rainbow’s End Snack Shop in the nearby Paradise Park building for reasonably priced refreshments, including generous portions of shave ice (a fabulous treat after a little exercise!). There are other authentic Hawaiian treats there, too, like taro chips… such a nice way to cap off a perfect little Hawaiian adventure. Have fun at Oahu’s most accessible waterfall!
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