Best hikes on Oahu! Waterfall edition: Manoa Falls
Every now and then, a friend or family member want me to take them on a hike but not everyone is as daring as me. So when I need a hike that is easy enough for a child to do yet still has some pretty amazing sights, Manoa Falls is my go-to waterfall hike.
Talk about #1 tourist waterfall on all of Oahu (Obvi, you can tell by all those people in the picture above). This hike is gravel road nearly the entire time. Fairly straight forward with no major incline or decline for the one-mile hike to the falls. For this, I rate Manoa Falls difficulty level a 1 out of 10. The most simple hike of all time. Although it’s an easy-peasy hike and a baby can do it, it is still so so pretty! This hikes starts at the end of Manoa Rd. in Manoa Valley. Parking is $5 to park in the lot or you can just park on the street and walk in. Because this hike is popular amongst tourist, *heads up* be prepared to have tons of people on the hike with you; it's not the most tranquil hike if you want to get away.
The hike is very well maintained. Follow the signs. You'll go up the paved road to the right just past the parking lot. You'll enter a gate that clearly says Manoa Falls Hike. Follow the trail all the way down and in about one mile you'll end up at the 150' waterfall. But wait! Don't get so ahead of yourself. Some of my favorite features of this hike believe it or not is actually not the waterfall itself. I love the bamboo forests, the various exotic trees, and the twig jungle you can play in that makes for really cool photos. Many people focus too much on the destination, and forget about the journey.
After about 30-45 minutes of strolling through this gorgeous Hawaiian valley, you'll finally reach Manoa Falls. There are signs to keep a safe distance because of rock slides but you are almost guaranteed to see a huge crowd of people swimming in the pool anyway. Enter at your own risk.
Most people stop here and turn back around. But you know me, I keep on exploring! So if you're up for a challenge, continue on to upper Manoa! You'll see a sign that says Aihualama trail. Do not go on that trail! It'll lead you down some long, boring, and uneventful trail that leads to who knows where. Instead, take a look at the hill that goes up on the right of the Aihualama trailhead. You'll see a fence that abruptly stops. Start by going up and around the gate. Continue to climb climb climb (for about 10 minutes) until you eventually reach the top of the waterfall. There is a pretty cool swimming pool between Manoa 1 and Manoa 2. Most people stop here. But of course, why would I stop? Sooo onward and upward! Now this part is really sketchy and requires a lot of upper body strength and focus. You're going to be climbing up a vertical wall that you have to cross over almost like monkey bars. Do not fall. You can seriously hurt yourself here. Once you're past the vertical wall, you'll reach a part that I almost turned around at. You have to throw yourself over this rock wall with nothing but a distant tree branch holding you up. Again, do not attempt if you don't have upper body strength and focus to pull yourself up. Another thing that had me sketched out: if I go up, how was I going to get down? Luckily, coming down was a lot easier than it was to go up. Once you get past that sketchy part, you'll go a little up then a lot down (about 10 minutes), where you will then find yourself at Manoa 3! You can continue even more but I haven't gone past this part.
Manoa 1: difficulty level 1 out of 10, expected time 1-2 hours (out and back)
Manoa 2: difficulty level 4 out of 10, expected time 1.5-3 hours (out and back)
Manoa 3: difficulty level 7 out of 10, expected time 3-4 hours (out and back)