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7 Amazing Waterfall Hikes on Oahu You Must Do

7 Amazing Waterfall Hikes on Oahu You Must Do

Waimea Valley is the number one sight in Haleiwa for tourists visiting the island of Oahu. The foliage is stunning, the Waimea Falls is a captivating swimming hole, and the restored cultural sites help introduce visitors to Hawaiian history. Another famous waterfall, Manoa Falls, has over 3,700 reviews on Trip Advisor with a 4.5/5 star rating. Visitors can’t get enough of Hawaii’s natural beauty. Let’s examine seven of the best waterfall hikes on Oahu, where you can immerse yourself in the awe-inspiring tropical rainforests! Let’s get started!

10 Amazing Hiking Trails throughout the Island of Oahu, Hawaii [a complete hiking guide]

Where Is Oahu? 

Meaning “The Gathering Place,” Oahu is the third largest of the Hawaiian Islands located in the Pacific Ocean with an area of 597 square miles. The state capital, Honolulu, is on Oahu. Roughly one million people, or almost two-thirds of the population of Hawaii lives on Oahu. Because of its tropical climate, Oahu receives lots of rainfall. The island has recorded the longest rain shower, lasting 200 consecutive days.

What Is Oahu Known for? 

Pearl Harbor is on Oahu, as well as the world-famous beaches of Waikiki and the renowned North Shore. Surfing is quite popular here, and tourism is a massive part of the economy. Diamond Head, part of the Honolulu Volcanic Series, is another famous landmark. The government declared it a National Natural Landmark in 1968.

Pro Tip: Want to road trip around Hawaii? Get the inside scoop of What We Learned From Renting an RV Camper in Hawaii.

Caitlin from Mortons on the Move at the top of a waterfall while hiking in Hawaii
Soak up Hawaii’s natural beauty while hiking through Oahu.

What is the Best Waterfall Hike in Oahu?

There are many gorgeous waterfall hikes in Oahu, and which one is best will ultimately depend on your opinion. Suppose you’re looking for a strenuous, heart-pumping jungle adventure with a gorgeous waterfall plunge waiting for you at the end. In that case, you’ll prefer a different waterfall than someone looking to bring their family of 5 on a fun adventure. Fortunately, Oahu has something for every age and ability! We’ve rounded up the seven best waterfall hikes in Oahu to help you decide.

7 Best Waterfall Hikes on Oahu You Must Do

Waterfalls are plentiful on the Hawaiian islands. Oahu is no exception. If you’re willing to brave the weather and consistent rain showers, there are stunning views and rewarding cascades along each one of these fantastic waterfall hikes on Oahu.

1. Waimano Falls 

This 2.9-mile out-and-back trail has a “hard” rating on AllTrails. The elevation gain is a little over 800 feet. It’s a steep and challenging descent, but the beautiful waterfall is worth it at the bottom. There are also marked places where you can jump into the pool. Plus, you can bring dogs as long as they are on a leash.

Location: The hike starts in the Pearl City neighborhood cul-de-sac.

Morton Trip Rating: 9/10 because of the challenging route and stunning scenery. It is considered the most popular and most challenging waterfall hike on Oahu.

2. Manoa Falls

This 1.7-mile out-and-back trail is “moderate” on AllTrails. The elevation gain is a little over 600 feet. Check the weather conditions, as this trail sometimes experiences closures. You’ll traverse rainforests and rest on benches along the way. It’s $5 to park in the parking lot. Manoa Falls is one of the top tourist destinations in Honolulu.

Location: Parking lot is at 21.33154, -157.80132.

Morton Trip Rating: 8/10 because even though you can’t swim in the pool at the waterfall base, it’s still a stunning hike and a local favorite in Oahu.

Waterfall in rainforest in Oahu, Hawaii
Go for a swim under a waterfall after a long hike in Oahu.

3. Waimea Falls

Now run by the stewards of Waimea Valley Hi’ipaka, the former Waimea Falls Park offers guests a 1.5-mile out-and-back trail to the falls. The park used to be the site of regular hula performances, where onlookers could pull up and watch cliff divers plunge into the pool. The Waimea Falls trail is now paved and easily accessible, offering the beautiful scenery of the botanical gardens. Once at the waterfall, lifeguards are on duty if you’d like to swim to the base of the falls.

Location: The park is at 59-864 Kamehameha Hwy, Haleiwa, HI 96712.

Morton Trip Rating: 10/10 because the well-maintained trail is accessible for everyone, and safety is a top priority at the waterfall.

4. Lulumahu Falls

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply owns this trail. You must make reservations for day-use permits through Hawaii’s Division of Forestry and Wildlife (DLNR) before visiting. It’s a 1.6-mile out-and-back trail with an elevation gain of over 900 feet. There are sand pits and a bridge along the way. At the trail’s end, hikers witness the 50+ feet of Lulumahu Falls. There are other trails within the Honolulu Forest Reserve as well.

Location: 4151 Nuuanu Pali Dr, Honolulu, HI 96817

Morton Trip Rating: 9/10 because of the stunning scenery throughout the Honolulu Forest Reserve. The waterfall is worth the effort to hike through the mud of the Oahu rainforest.

5. Likeke Falls

This 0.8-mile out-and-back trail is considered “moderate” on AllTrails. There is minimal elevation gain, barely over 200 feet, so it’s kid-friendly and a good option for novice hikers. You must park on the road before the gate to Ko’olau Golf Club, but park legally as officials frequently issue tickets here. Turn right after the tunnel of trees, where you’ll see an arrow pointing toward the falls.

Location: 45-550 Kionaole Rd, Kaneohe, HI 96744

Morton Trip Rating: 8/10 because parking can be an issue even though the trail is family-friendly. It’s the best hike for kids on this list.

Tom and Caitlin from Mortons on the Move hiking by waterfall in Hawaii
Whether you are a beginner or a pro hiker, there is a trail for everyone in Oahu.

6. Waiakeakua Falls

A challenging waterfall hike in Oahu, this trail leads to a 50-foot waterfall in the Manoa Valley. Pink ribbons will guide you through the forest for some of the way, but hikers report the trail is challenging to follow at specific points. The seven bridges connector is easy to miss, so download the offline version of the map. You’ll have several creek crossings, so pay attention to which direction you should go. Hikers must climb a 20-foot waterfall to get to the main Waiakeakua Falls. This 2.4-mile out-and-back trail near Honolulu is open year-round but is subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions.

Location: Neighborhood parking is available around Waaloa Road.

Morton Trip Rating: 9/10 because of the challenging route and stunning scenery.

7. Waipuilani Falls

This 1.9-mile out-and-back trail is a moderate route with an elevation gain of almost 700 feet.  Although the trail is open year-round, it’s subject to seasonal closure due to weather conditions. The trail can be challenging to follow, even with the ribbons. Walk toward town and stay to the left. Download the offline version of the map to keep on the trail. There’s a fascinating cave at the trail’s end, and the waterfall is beautiful after a good rain.

Location: Park at the Pali lookout when the gate is open.

Morton Trip Rating: 8/10 because hikers find the trail difficult to follow sometimes, but the scenery and reward at the end are worth it.

Man hiking by waterfall in Oahu, Hawaii
Pack waterproof gear for your hike in Oahu.

Tips for Preparing to Hike to Waterfalls in Oahu

When preparing for Hawaii hiking, remember it’s a different experience than other mainland hikes. It rains almost daily. Expect mud and slippery conditions. Bring waterproof and water-repellent gear. You’ll also want to wear shoes that you don’t mind getting muddy. Like other hikes, you’ll want to bring water, bug spray, sunscreen, snacks, etc., but the most crucial thing to remember is the tropical climate of Hawaii. Dress appropriately and prepare to be muddy.

Pro Tip: After a long hike, spend the night snoozing in the sand. Find out Where To Go Beach Camping in Hawaii.

OAHU | BEST THINGS TO DO IN 2022 (from a local resident)

Are Waterfall Hikes on Oahu Worth It?

These waterfall hikes on Oahu are breathtaking. Even with the mud, creek crossings, and hard-to-follow trails, the scenery of Oahu is exceptional. Hiking through the rainforests of Hawaii is an experience any hiker will remember forever. So the next time you’re vacationing in the Pacific, make plans to tackle at least one of these waterfall hikes on Oahu.

Which waterfall hike will you choose as your first adventure? Tell us in the comments!

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About Mortons on the Move

Tom & Caitlin Morton of Mortons on the Move gave up the stationary life for one where they are constantly on the move. They are full-time travelers, television hosts, and digital media producers.
They left their jobs, sold their house and possessions, and hit the road in September 2015 in their full-time “home on wheels”. Since then they have traveled the US, Canada, and even internationally by RV.
Now, they are Discovery Channel & PBS TV Co-stars of The RVers, producers of “Go North” on Amazon Prime, co-founders and instructors of RV Masterclass, and contributing authors for and an Arizona travel guide.

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