Are you planning a trip to Oahu, Hawaii, and looking for an easy waterfall hike to add to your itinerary? Look no further than the Manoa Falls hike, a popular option in Oahu.
The Manoa Falls hiking trail offers stunning views of the lush rainforest and leads you to a beautiful waterfall in Manoa Valley.
In this blog post, we’ll provide expert tips on how to navigate the trail, what to expect along the way, and why this hike is a must-do for any nature lover or first-time visitors to Oahu.
Manoa Falls Quick Guide Details
- Length: 1.7 Miles Round Trip
- Duration: 60 to 90 Minutes
- Terrain: Muddy, Rocky
- Difficulty: Easy to Medium
- Address: Na Ala Hele, Honolulu, HI 96822
About Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls is a 150-foot waterfall along the Manoa Falls trail in Honolulu, Hawaii. This easy-to-moderate hike offers a magical experience for hikers of all levels that is 1.7 miles.
Traverse through a tropical rainforest and bamboo grove while taking in the vibrant flora along the way. Be prepared for occasional rain, which adds to the trail’s allure.
How To Get To Manoa Falls From Waikiki
Manoa Falls is just a 20-minute drive from the vibrant Waikiki area in Honolulu, Hawaii.
Accessing the trailhead is a breeze whether you have a car or prefer to use public transportation. For those without a vehicle, a convenient Uber ride will cost approximately USD 20-30 for a one-way trip.
If driving from your Waikiki hotel, take Ala Wai Blvd and merge into the right two lanes to turn onto Kalākaua Ave. Continue by turning right onto S King St, followed by a left turn at the first cross street onto Punahou St. Stay on Manoa Rd for 2.8 miles, leading to the entrance stating the parking fee of USD 7 per car.
Alternatively, if you prefer to rely on public transportation, you can reach the Manoa Falls trailhead from Waikiki using TheBus. Board the #5 bus, and disembark at the Manoa Road/Kumuone Street stop.
From there, continue walking up Manoa Road for approximately 0.5 miles until you reach the trailhead, where the journey to Manoa Falls awaits.
Pro Tip: Do not leave valuables in your vehicle.
When Is Manoa Falls Open?
The trail is open seven days a week sunup to sundown. It is highly recommended not to start the hike after 5:30 pm.
Keep in mind that the park can be subject to close for maintenance and unsafe conditions. Find information on the trail conditions here.
There are two designated areas for parking. The fee is USD 7 per car for non-residents and USD 4 for residents.
You can also find free parking in the nearby residential neighborhood before the park and walk 0.5 miles to the park. The parking lot opens from 8 am to 6 pm daily.
Hiking the Manoa Falls Trail
Although considered an easy trek, hikers on the Manoa Falls hike must come prepared and be mindful of the environment.
To begin the trail, head to the back of the parking area, where two roads and a sign pointing toward the path will guide you to the right lane.
A gate entrance with a prominent Manoa Falls Trail sign welcomes you, signaling the start of the trail and the beginning of your hiking adventure.
As you venture along the trail, a vibrant array of flora greets you, enveloping you in the beauty of the rainforest. Towering trees, lush native plants, and a few colorful tropical flowers adorn the path, creating a picturesque backdrop for your journey.
You’ll encounter a shipping container in the middle of the path, which serves as a continuation point for the dirt trail. Expect the terrain to be mostly rocky, and be prepared for muddy conditions due to the frequent rainy weather.
Most of the course is sheltered by a canopy of trees, mitigating the direct impact of rain on the path. As you immerse yourself in the tropical ambiance, anticipate a humid atmosphere throughout this great hike.
Along the trail, you’ll find several rest areas equipped with log benches, offering opportunities to pause, catch your breath, and appreciate Oahu’s beautiful scenery.
The beginning of the trail is relatively easy, featuring primarily flat terrain. However, as you progress towards the second half, expect steeper sections and more steps, adding a touch of challenge to your adventure.
The tranquil sound of raindrops on the leaves and a gentle stream on the right of the trail enhance the experience.
The hike’s highlight undoubtedly awaits you at the end of the trail – the majestic Manoa Falls. If you’ve been to the Big Island, this waterfall looks a bit like Akaka Falls.
Cascading down a sheer cliff, the 150 ft waterfall creates a mesmerizing display of nature’s power and beauty. Spend extra time to soak in the awe-inspiring scenery, and capture stunning photographs.
While the beauty of Manoa Falls is undoubtedly captivating, practicing responsible tourism during your visit is essential. As tempting as it may be, swimming at the base of the falls or venturing beyond the wall is strictly prohibited for safety reasons.
Let’s ensure the preservation of this natural wonder for future generations to enjoy by respecting the rules and regulations in place.
Once you return to the parking lot, take full advantage of the convenient amenities available. Adjacent to the entrance where you paid for parking, you’ll discover well-maintained restrooms, providing a refreshing break after your adventure.
There is also “Rainbows End,” a charming small convenience store full of snacks and refreshing drinks. This store has everything you need to replenish your energy after a thrilling hike.
Should you require any last-minute essentials, they also offer water shoes and flip-flops for purchase, ensuring you’re well-prepared.
Head up the stairs of the building and venture across the bridge, where a convenient water hose awaits on the left side, near the protective fence.
Please take advantage of this thoughtful addition, using it to rinse off any stubborn mud or debris from your shoes.
What To Wear And Bring
It’s essential to dress appropriately and bring the right gear to ensure an enjoyable and safe experience. Here are some recommendations to help you prepare for your adventure.
The trail can often be muddy and slippery, so opt for sturdy hiking shoes that provide good traction.
While some have managed the hike in flip-flops, it’s best to wear proper footwear for stability and protection. If you have no hiking boots, opt for closed-toe shoes over sandals.
Pro tip: If you plan to continue your day with other activities after the hike, consider bringing a change of shoes to keep your feet dry and clean.
This way, you can comfortably explore other destinations without worrying about lingering mud or dampness.
Choose lightweight, quick-drying clothing to stay comfortable throughout your hike. Wear moisture-wicking materials to keep you cool and dry as you explore the trail.
It’s also advisable to bring a light rain jacket in case of unexpected showers. If you forget one, you can purchase a raincoat at the entrance.
Sun and Bug Protection:
Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays by wearing sunscreen, a hat, and sunglasses. Consider using a non-toxic insect repellent or bug spray to ward off pesky bugs along the trail.
Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated throughout your hike. It’s best to use a reusable water bottle to reduce the single use of plastic.
Capture the breathtaking views of the waterfall and the natural beauty surrounding it.
Tips For The Hike To Manoa Falls
- Arrive early or later in the day
To enhance your experience on the trail, consider arriving in the early morning or later in the afternoon.
By doing so, you can relish the trail’s serenity with fewer crowds and avoid lengthy queues when capturing the perfect photo of the magnificent waterfall.
- Leave No Trace
Maintaining the pristine condition of the trail and the delicate ecosystem is crucial. Always pack your trash with you, ensuring you leave no trace behind.
This practice contributes to the preservation of the natural beauty and sustainability of the area.
- Beware of Falling Rocks
Remember the signs warning of falling rocks throughout the hike. The trail is predominantly flat but often covered with rocky terrain.
Given the frequent rain in the area, the large rocks can become slippery. Exercise caution, take time, and watch your step to prevent accidents or injuries.
- Chase the Rain
To witness Manoa Falls’ most majestic state, consider hiking shortly after rainfall. The waterfall will be stronger and fuller. However, it’s essential to respect local guidelines and signs indicating when it’s safe to proceed.
These precautions are in place to safeguard your well-being and preserve the delicate ecosystem. Always be a responsible and considerate traveler, staying within designated barriers and refraining from trespassing.
Manoa Falls Frequently Asked Questions
How long does it take to hike to Manoa Falls?
The journey to Manoa Falls encompasses a 0.8-mile trail one way, resulting in a total round trip of 1.7 miles. It typically takes approximately 30 minutes to reach the waterfall when embarking from the parking lot.
However, it’s essential to allocate a sufficient amount of time for the entire hike. Plan for at least 60-90 minutes to complete the short walk comfortably, allowing for moments of appreciation, photography, and any desired rest.
What’s the best time to hike Manoa Falls?
Typically, early mornings are recommended to secure a more serene and peaceful experience, free from the hustle and bustle of crowds.
Weekends attract more visitors, so planning a weekday hike offers a quieter and more intimate exploration. Additionally, it’s crucial to be mindful of the weather conditions.
Rainy days can make the trail slippery and potentially hazardous. It’s best to avoid hiking during or immediately after heavy rainfall to ensure your safety and enjoyment.
What’s the best season to see the waterfall?
Winter is the best season to witness Manoa Falls in its fullest and most magnificent state. Winter in Manoa coincides with the rainy season, which results in increased precipitation and a higher water volume cascading down the waterfall.
The water flow may decrease during the drier summer months, resulting in a less dramatic display.
Can you swim at this waterfall?
No, swimming in the pool at the bottom of Manoa Falls is strictly prohibited. Visitors are not permitted to swim in the waterfall or its small pool for safety reasons and to preserve the ecosystem.
Respecting this regulation and avoiding activities that may risk your safety or harm the delicate natural environment is essential.
Is Manoa Falls pet-friendly?
Yes, the Manoa Falls Trail is pet-friendly. However, it’s important to note that hikers must keep dogs on a leash throughout the trail. This ensures the safety of your pet, other hikers, and the local wildlife.
It’s worth mentioning that the area is used for hunting, so you may encounter hunting dogs off-leash during those specific activities.
Things To Do Near The Manoa Falls Hike
The Lyon Arboretum is a 200-acre public botanical garden with over 6,000 taxa of tropical and sub-tropical plants, 7 miles of hiking trails, and a small waterfall.
You can access Lyon Arboretum just before the Manoa Falls trail. The Arboretum is open to the public on weekdays from 8 am to 4 pm, Saturdays from 9 am to 3 pm, and closed on all federal and state holidays. Individuals are welcome at no charge, but donations are encouraged.
Signs throughout the garden provide brief educational opportunities, which can support visitor education on subjects like the origins of some Hawaiian plants and the threat of certain Hawaiian plants.
At the base of Manoa Falls Trail, you’ll find the Aihualama Trail. Look for the marked trail on the left side, a 4.04 miles trail for those seeking a less crowded hike.
While the initial part of the trail may be a bit rugged, it quickly rewards hikers with breathtaking views and an enchanting journey through a bamboo forest.
The Manoa Falls Trail is a must-visit destination for any nature lover exploring Oahu. It’s a perfect hike to do in the morning, allowing time for other activities on your Oahu itinerary.
With its accessible trail, stunning rainforest views, and the awe-inspiring 150-foot waterfall, this hike offers an unforgettable experience for hikers of all levels.
Remember to come prepared, respect the environment, and embrace the magic of this beautiful trail.
This guest post was written by Bridget Gutierrez
Bridget is a travel writer and owner of Bridget Gutierrez Travels, where she helps you find local and hidden gems in Oahu. As a Hawaii resident, she specializes in travel to Oahu, Hawaii.