Beautiful waterfall on Oahu
April 4, 2019
| by
Maria Mancuso

Things to do on Oahu: Guide to Oahu Waterfalls

Walking up a tree lined trail to an opening that reveals a beautiful, full flowing waterfall is one of the best experiences you can have. This article, ‘Guide to Oahu Waterfalls’ gives you a list of some easy to reach and not so easy to reach Waterfalls on Oahu.

You can only spend so many days laying on the beach or shopping or drinking Mai Tai’s – although these are not bad ways to spend time in Oahu.  But you will want to get out into the beautiful hiking trails on Oahu and discover the amazing natural beauty of the many waterfalls on the island.

Some of the hiking trails to the waterfalls can be challenging for those not quite in the best of shape, but there are a few, less difficult trails that you can choose to discover the natural beauty of a waterfall. For the more adventurous hikers, there are many more rewarding hikes and waterfalls for you to discover.

This article in our Oahu Visitors Blog, ‘Guide to Oahu Waterfalls’ will give you a great idea of what to expect, where to go and when is the best time of year to see the best water flows for each waterfall.  

So, lace up your hiking shoes, grab a bottle of water and your camera and let’s go explore Oahu and enjoy some beautiful waterfalls!

Man with a backpack hiking by a stream on Oahu.
Sometimes the trek to see the waterfalls is just as rewarding as seeing the waterfalls themselves.

Waimea Falls:
Waimea Falls is a very accessible destination in proximity to Honolulu. The waterfall is also located close to Waimea Valley so you can easily visit the Botanical Gardens and archeological sites on the same trip.    

Located on the North Shore of Oahu, Waimea Falls, also known as Waihi Falls.  There is a minimal entry fee to hike to the falls, and this fee goes towards the preservation of the Waimea Valley landmarks.  To access the falls, you will take short ¾ of a mile on mostly paved road.  Waimea Falls is approximately 45 feet tall, and you can swim in the pool below Waimea falls.  

It is also a very popular activity to jump from the top of the falls into the water below – but do so at your own risk! Located close by is the Waimea Bay Beach Park that is famous for giant surf as well as a rock that is popular for jumping off.

Maunawili Falls:
This 20-foot-tall waterfall is a very popular destination due to its easy accessibility, and as you can imagine this area can be a bit crowded during the weekends. Located just off the Pali Highway, a 2 ½ mile round trip hike will bring you to Maunawili Falls.

The conditions of the trail can be a bit sketchy based on the weather or rain.  Be sure to wear appropriate hiking shoes and be mindful of the trail and you will be fine.

Maunawili Falls is another option for the thrill seekers wanting to jump from the top of the falls into the pool below. Be sure to check the water depth before jumping.

Waimano Falls:
If you are up for a bit of a hike, about 3 miles to be exact, and you like to avoid crowds (usually) then Waimano Falls is a good choice.  The hike to Waimano Falls is located in Pearl City at the Manana hiking trailhead at the end of Komo Mai Drive.  

The hike to Waimano Falls will take you about an hour each way depending on your pace and fitness level.  The trail conditions can be a bit slippery at times, especially in the rainy season.

You can jump off Waimano Falls and into each to the 2 pools below.  There are a few different heights that you can jump from and as always, be careful.

Manoa Falls:
Manoa Falls is easily one of the most popular Oahu hikes, and one of the most accessible as it is located just a short drive from Honolulu.  If you are looking for a short, moderate hike to a visually rewarding waterfall then Manoa Falls is ideal for you. 

The pathway to the waterfalls is approximately 1-mile (one way) of well-worn and surrounded by lush trees and beautiful scenery along the way. The complete hike will take you 1.5 to 2 hours depending on your fitness level, the condition of the trail and how long you spend enjoying the beautiful falls.

Manoa Falls is a 150-foot tall waterfall that spills into a natural pool below.  Swimming in the water is discouraged.

As you take your selfies and group photos, you may get the feeling that the jungle around you looks familiar and you would be right.  This area is where a number of television shows like ‘Lost’ and movies like ‘Jurassic Park’ were filmed.

For the most volume of waterflow, visit Manoa Falls in the winter months.

Lulumahu Waterfall on Oahu
Lulumahu Falls is a 50-foot, tiered waterfall that is accessible after a 2-mile trail hike that is mostly flat and takes about 30 to 40 minutes depending on your pace and fitness level.

Lulumahu Falls: 
Lulumahu Falls is a great choice for a visit if you want to avoid the crowds of tourists or even locals during your ‘day of waterfall appreciation.’

Lulumahu Falls is a 50-foot, tiered waterfall that is accessible after a 2-mile trail hike that is mostly flat and takes about 30 to 40 minutes depending on your pace and fitness level.  You may encounter a small stream that you’ll need to cross depending on the season  - not difficult. 

Because the land is owned by the Honolulu Board of Water and passed through the Nu’unanu Reservoir you will need to obtain a permit to access the trail and the waterfall.

Oahu has a lot to offer those who are willing to venture beyond the soft sandy beaches and swim up pool bars. Hiking to the end of a trail that reveals a beautiful 50-foot waterfall is tough to beat, so take an afternoon and plan to discover one the Oahu Waterfalls listed in this article, ‘Guide to Oahu Waterfalls’ or refer to one of the other related articles in our Oahu Visitors Blog.

Be sure to visit our Oahu Visitors Blog and Oahu Visitors Guide for more articles on things to do, see and experience during your next visit to the island.

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