Hiking Manoa Falls Trail on Oahu, Hawaii: Ultimate Guide to All You Need to Know (2024)

by | Jul 10, 2024

Ever wondered what it’s like to hike through a stunning Hawaiian rainforest and end up at an awe-inspiring waterfall?

Manoa Falls in Honolulu offers just that—an unforgettable journey through lush landscapes to a breathtaking 150-foot waterfall. Located just a short drive from the urban buzz of Honolulu, this popular Oahu hike draws both locals and tourists eager to experience its natural beauty.

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This Manoa Falls Trail post is written by Bryan Murphy, an expert in Hawaii travel and a top-rated podcast host. The post may contain affiliate links, meaning I may earn a small commission if you use the provided links. Learn more on my privacy policy page.

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In this blog post, I’ll guide you through everything you need to know about hiking Manoa Falls Trail. From preparing for the trek to exploring the unique flora along the path, you’ll learn how to make the most of your visit.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a casual walker, this guide ensures you’re well-equipped for a memorable adventure.

Ready to explore one of Oahu’s most cherished natural wonders? Let’s get started on this exciting journey to Manoa Falls!

Key Takeaways of Mānoa Falls Trail

  • Manoa Falls Trail is a lush 1.7-mile hike in Oahu, taking about 1 to 1.5 hours round trip, with an elevation gain of approximately 633 feet.
  • You can get there by car or public transport, parking near Paradise Park for a fee, or taking TheBus route 5 from Ala Moana Shopping Center.
  • The trail offers sights of tropical plants and towering trees but can be muddy and slippery; wearing sturdy shoes is important for safety.
  • Swimming at Manoa Falls is not allowed due to health risks and the danger of falling rocks; always stay on marked paths to avoid injuries.
  • Attractions along the trail include bamboo groves, eucalyptus trees, and the chance to see locations used in movies like Jurassic Park and Lost.

Overview of Manoa Falls Trail

Manoa Falls Trail takes you on an adventure through a lush Hawaiian rainforest to a stunning 150-foot waterfall. This trail, winding through the Manoa Valley just outside Honolulu, promises sights of towering bamboo groves, fragrant eucalyptus trees, and vibrant ferns along your trek.

Manoa Falls Trail

Trail Length and Duration

The trail to Manoa Falls is a journey you’ll want to take. Imagine yourself walking through lush Hawaiian scenery. This hike isn’t just a walk in the park—it stretches 1.6 miles round trip and wraps up in about 1-1.5 hours, give or take for those must-have photo ops at every turn.

You start at the base where the air promises adventure, and before you know it, you’re climbing towards an elevation gain of around 650 feet.

As you set off from Mānoa Road, time seems to fly by. The journey covers exactly 1.7 miles back and forth with a total incline that tests your spirits at 633 feet upwards into the clouds—or so it feels under Hawaii’s vast blue sky.

Whether you’re here for the thrill of reaching the falls or eager to snap shots of rare ferns along your path, every step brings something new to marvel at amidst bamboo groves and eucalyptus trees whispering tales as old as time itself.

Key Features and Attractions

Manoa Falls Trail offers you a walk through a lush rainforest, just 15 minutes from the hustle of urban Honolulu. You’ll wander past guava plants, towering eucalyptus, and massive banyan trees.

The path also leads you through thickets of tall bamboo that whisper with the wind, surrounded by tropical blooms and vivid ginger flowers. This trail isn’t just a hike; it’s like stepping into another world where every turn brings a new marvel of nature to explore.

Did you know this valley doubled as a backdrop for movies like Jurassic Park and Lost? Your journey ends at an awe-inspiring 100 ft waterfall cascading down a rock face—creating that perfect scene fit for the big screen.

Though swimming at the falls stopped after a rockslide in 2002, standing at the viewing area gives you an amazing view that makes every step worth it. Walking here feels completely different—with each step transporting you further into what feels like paradise hidden within Oahu’s depths.

Getting to Manoa Falls Hiking Trail

Heading to Manoa Falls is a breeze whether you’re driving or taking public transport. If you’ve got a car, zip down Manoa Road until you hit the end. Here, paradise awaits with a parking spot just for your ride close to the trailhead.

And hey, if cars aren’t your thing, hop on TheBus from Waikiki. It’s a smooth journey with a dash of scenic views all the way to this hiking gem!

Directions by Car From Waikiki

Drive out of Waikīkī on McCully Street and make a right onto Kapiʻolani Boulevard. Then, turn left at University Avenue. Keep going as University Avenue turns into Mānoa Road. You’ll see Paradise Park; that’s where you can park for a $7 fee.

Good news—if you’re a Hawaii resident or in the military, you get discounts.

This route is straightforward and takes about 15 minutes from Waikiki Beach to the Mānoa Falls trailhead. Once you park your car at Paradise Park, it’s just a short walk to start your hike through the lush scenery leading up to Manoa Falls.

Public Transport Options

Catching TheBus from Ala Moana Shopping Center is your ticket to Manoa Falls. Route 5 drops you a short stroll away, just 10 minutes by foot to the trailhead. This journey makes hopping over to this jungle paradise super easy, especially if you’re staying in Waikiki, only 5.6 miles away.

Public transportation offers a smooth ride into Manoa Valley without the hassle of a car. It’s an accessible way for any visitor to explore nature’s embrace and start their adventure on the Mānoa Falls Trail.

With buses running frequently, you’ll find getting there not just convenient but also part of your Oahu experience.

What to Expect on the Hike to Manoa Falls

hiking manoa falls trail in oahu

On the hike to Manoa Falls, you’ll trek through lush scenery that’ll make you feel like you’re walking in a movie. The terrain varies—it can get muddy and slippery due to frequent rainfall, so wearing sturdy shoes is a must for every hiker.

Terrain and difficulty

The Manoa Falls Trail takes you through an environment that feels like a scene from Jurassic Park. You’ll start your hike surrounded by tropical plants and towering trees, walking on an easy path.

But as you move forward, the trail begins its gradual climb. It gets muddy and slippery, making each step an adventure. The ground is uneven with rocks peeking out of the dirt path here and there.

Covering 1.7 miles roundtrip with an elevation gain of 633 ft., this trail isn’t just a walk in the park. The terrain challenges even seasoned hikers, especially after rainfall when everything turns slick.

Despite being beginner-friendly at its core, prepare for moments where you need to move carefully over gravel and between rocky patches underfoot.

Plus, tackling these sections while enjoying the lush greenery all around makes for quite the experience – one that ends with the stunning sight of Manoa Falls cascading from 150 feet above into a pool below.

Safety and recommendations

Wear closed shoes with good grip for the damp and muddy path up Manoa Falls Trail. This is a must, especially if you’re hiking after it rains. The trail can get slippery, making sturdy footwear your best friend on this adventure.

Also, pack a jacket or poncho. Even if it’s sunny when you start, weather in Oahu can change fast. You might find yourself caught in a rain shower by the time you reach the 150ft falls.

Keep off swimming at Moana Falls – that’s not allowed because of health risks like leptospirosis and danger from falling rocks. Staying on marked paths is smart too; attempting to climb near the waterfall could lead to injuries or worse.

Always carry plenty of water and sunscreen no matter how shady it seems at the start or how cool the day feels; being prepared will make your hike more enjoyable and safer overall.

Mānoa Falls Trailhead on Oahu Wrap-Up

As we wrap up our journey through the lush landscapes of Manoa Falls Trail in Honolulu, let’s revisit what makes this Oahu hike a must-visit.

This trail, taking you through a rainforest to the stunning 150 ft waterfall, offers a remarkable blend of natural beauty and adventure. From the towering bamboo groves to the captivating rock face at the end of the trail, every step is a discovery.

If you’re planning a visit, remember to wear sturdy, closed-toe shoes, especially since the path can get muddy and slippery. And while swimming at the falls is off-limits, the view alone is worth the trek.

Don’t forget to stop by the Lyon Arboretum for a deeper dive into Oahu’s flora or park in the designated Paradise Park parking lot for easy access.

Interested in more hiking adventures in Hawaii? Check out our related posts to explore more breathtaking trails on the island.

Hiking Manoa Falls Trail is more than just a walk; it’s an immersive experience in one of Hawaii’s most cherished natural settings.

Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a curious tourist, this trail promises an adventure that’s as enriching as it is enchanting. Happy trails!

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FAQs for Manoa Falls Trail

1. What is the best way to experience the Manoa Falls Trail on Oahu, Hawaii?

The best way to experience the Manoa Falls Trail is by taking a guided tour with a local expert guide who can provide insights and ensure a safe and enjoyable hike.

2. Is there paid parking available near the Manoa Falls Trail?

Yes, there is paid parking available in the residential neighborhood near the trailhead. Make sure to have some cash on hand for parking fees.

3. How long does it take to complete the Manoa Falls Trail?

The hike typically takes around 1-2 hours to complete, depending on your pace and how long you spend at the falls enjoying the scenery and possibly taking a swim.

4. Are there steep uphill sections on the Manoa Falls Trail?

Yes, there are some uphill sections on the trail, so be prepared for a bit of a workout. The uphill segments offer unique views and a chance to challenge yourself.

5. Can visitors swim at the base of the Manoa Falls?

While you can’t swim in the pool at the base of the waterfall, the stunning views alone make this easy hike well worth it.

6. Where is the Manoa Falls Trail located?

The Manoa Falls Trail is located on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, near the city of Honolulu. The trailhead is easily accessible by car or public transportation.

7. What should visitors know before hiking the Manoa Falls Trail?

Visitors should be prepared for a completely different environment from the residential neighborhoods nearby. Make sure to bring plenty of water, wear comfortable shoes, and apply bug repellent.

8. Is there shade along the Manoa Falls Trail?

Yes, there is some shade along the trail provided by the lush vegetation. However, it’s still recommended to wear sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.

9. Can visitors film or take photographs on the Manoa Falls Trail?

Yes, visitors are welcome to film or take photographs on the trail to capture the beauty of the surroundings. Remember to respect the natural environment and other hikers while filming.


Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy

Bryan Murphy, owner of Hawaii’s Best Travel, is a certified Hawaii destination expert from the Hawaii Visitors Bureau. He actively participates in the Hawaii Visitors and Convention Bureau as a member and has a strong educational background focused on local culture and sustainability. As the host of “Hawaii’s Best Travel,” a top-30 US travel podcast, Bryan combines his years of experience with valuable insights. He connects with a broad online community, reaching nearly half a million people, and offers a richer, more responsible way to experience Hawaii.