8 Best Waterfall Hikes in Oahu (& Which Ones to Avoid)


When it comes to getting away from the hustle and bustle of city life, hiking to a waterfall is a great way.

It’s time to pack your hiking essentials and get ready to enjoy some of the most breathtaking trails on the island.

Here’s a guide to some of the best waterfall hikes in Oahu worth checking out.

We promise you won’t regret it!

1. Waimano Falls

Rated as challenging, the 2-hour out and back trail at Waimano Falls is steep and muddy, but the view at the end of the trail is worth it.

Once you’ve arrived at the falls, you can swim in the pool below or use the rope swings to jump in with style.

The hike may seem easy at first but don’t be fooled!

It’s best suited for those with a moderate level of fitness – there are many steep sections that require the use of your hands to hold onto a rope.

The Waimano Falls Trail offers a great chance to explore the backyard of Oahu and get up close with Hawaiian flora and fauna.

About the Trail
  • Trail Difficulty
    Hard
  • Trail Length
    4.7 km (2.9 mi) round trip
  • Elevation Gain
    247 m
  • Pet-Friendly
    Allowed On Leash
Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls

2. Manoa Falls

The trail at Manoa Falls is a popular hike that takes you to a beautiful 150-foot waterfall.

It’s a short, easy trek (about 60 to 90 minutes round-trip), and the views of Manoa Valley are absolutely jaw-dropping.

The trail is family and kid-friendly, but be prepared to get to the trailhead early!

Unfortunately, swimming isn’t allowed at the pool; the water is stagnant and carries infectious bacteria. You’ll be at risk of catching Leptospirosis, which causes moderate flu-like symptoms.

The waterfall is nice, but it’s the hike that makes this place so special.

Fun fact: Manoa Falls was used as the filming location for major blockbuster movies such as Jurassic Park!

About the Trail
  • Trail Difficulty
    Easy
  • Trail Length
    2.7 km (1.6 mi) round trip
  • Elevation Gain
    193 m
  • Pet-Friendly
    Allowed On Leash
Waimea Falls Oahu Hawaii
Waimea Falls

3. Waimea Falls

More of a nature walk, the Waimea Valley Trail is a quick hike to a beautiful waterfall on the North Shore of Oahu.

It’s a scenic and adventurous trail, which takes you through the jungle and ends with a waterfall at the end.

The trail is paved and easy to navigate, perfect for all ages and fitness levels.

If you plan to go for a swim, you must wear a life jacket and pay the fee.

About the Trail
  • Trail Difficulty
    Easy
  • Trail Length
    3.1 km (1.9 mi) round trip
  • Elevation Gain
    83m
  • Pet-Friendly
    Not Allowed

4. Lulumahu Falls

Imagine a waterfall that is worth getting lost for; Lulumahu Falls is the perfect spot to find some peace and tranquility.

Situated about 20-minutes from Waikiki, this waterfall is surrounded by lush greenery and natural beauty.

This 40-minute trail cuts through a bamboo forest before reaching the falls.

The path isn’t that well marked, so pay close attention to the pink and yellow ribbons tied to the trees.

Lulumahu Falls is located on private property and a day-use permit is required to access the trail.

About the Trail
  • Trail Difficulty
    Moderate
  • Trail Length
    2.6 km (1.6 mi) round trip
  • Elevation Gain
    284m
  • Pet-Friendly
    Allowed On Leash

5. Likeke Falls

The Likeke Falls Trail is a short hike that leads you to a pretty waterfall with a small pool at the bottom; great for a quick splash to cool off.

The hike is less than a mile long, so it’s great for those who don’t have a lot of time on their hands.

The trail can get very muddy, so wear proper footwear and keep an eye out for trail markers.

About the Trail
  • Trail Difficulty
    Moderate
  • Trail Length
    1.3 km (.8 mi) round trip
  • Elevation Gain
    63m
  • Pet-Friendly
    Allowed On Leash

6. Laie Falls

Laie Falls is a pretty waterfall that cascades down into a small pool with views of the Pacific Ocean.

The falls are located in the shadow of the Ko’olau mountain range, on the North Shore of Oahu.

The hike to Laie Falls is about 1.5 hours each way and is relatively easy, but the last 2 miles of the hike is a bit difficult and requires some rock climbing and balancing to get to the falls.

The trail to the falls is on private property, and a permit is needed.

About the Trail
  • Trail Difficulty
    Hard
  • Trail Length
    12.7 km (7.9 mi) round trip
  • Elevation Gain
    574m
  • Pet-Friendly
    Not Allowed

7. Waiakeakua Falls

Located in Manoa Valley, the 2.4-mile Pu’u’pia Trail to Waiakeakua Falls is relatively easy and is suitable for most hikers.

Despite the short distance, it’s a moderate hike that takes about 2-3 hours to complete.

The winding trail is mostly flat with one incredibly steep section that’ll leave you clinging to tree branches – it’s best to skip this trail after long rainfall to avoid the slippery terrain.

About the Trail
  • Trail Difficulty
    Moderate
  • Trail Length
    3.9 km (2.4 mi) round trip
  • Elevation Gain
    292m
  • Pet-Friendly
    Allowed On Leash

8. Maunawili Falls

(Maunawili Falls is temporarily closed until 2023)

Maunawili Falls is one of the most popular waterfalls in Oahu and the trail is a great hike for beginners as well as experienced hikers.

The trail follows a creek and leads to a small cascading waterfall at the end.

Make sure to apply Earth-friendly mosquito repellent if you don’t want to get eaten alive!

Swimming is permitted at Maunawili Falls and there are a few spots that you can jump in.

The trail is well-shaded with large trees but always slippery with mud – there’s no way to avoid getting your feet wet so wear appropriate shoes.

About the Trail
  • Trail Difficulty
    Moderate
  • Trail Length
    4.5 km (2.8 mi) round trip
  • Elevation Gain
    307m
  • Pet-Friendly
    Allowed On Leash

Bonus: Waterfall Hikes to Avoid

Waipuhia Falls

Coined as the ‘Upside-Down Waterfall’ in Oahu, this natural phenomenon is visible when you’re driving along Pali Highway after heavy rainfall or during the wet season.

The hike to Waipuhia Falls is highly overrated though – the trail isn’t well-maintained and severely overgrown.

If that sounds alright to you and you still want to venture in, there’s no guarantee that you’ll witness this waterfall defying gravity as the area is usually very dry.

You’re better off just catching a glimpse of this natural wonder from the side of the highway.

About the Trail
  • Trail Difficulty
    Moderate
  • Trail Length
    1 km (.6 mi) round trip
  • Elevation Gain
    137m
  • Pet-Friendly
    Not Allowed

Kapena Falls

Kapena Falls is a 5-minute easy hike that will lead you to a small waterfall at the end. The hike is flat and only gains 30 meters in elevation.

There’s a stream that runs next to the trail, so you can hear water running during your walk.

Unfortunately, there is a lot of trash and broken glass on the trail; past hikers have also mentioned a homeless camp in the area.

About the Trail
  • Trail Difficulty
    Easy
  • Trail Length
    .5 km (.3 mi) round trip
  • Elevation Gain
    30m
  • Pet-Friendly
    Allowed On Leash
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