The best waterfall hike in Oahu; Waimea Falls

The 9 Best Waterfall Hikes in Oahu You Don’t Want to Miss

If you are an outdoor adventure-seeking traveler going to Oahu, then you are probably wondering where to find the best waterfall hikes.

Well, you are in luck as I have compiled what I believe to be the 9 best waterfall hikes on the island below. 

  • Manoa Falls
  • Waimea Falls
  • Likeke Falls
  • Waimano Falls
  • Kahekili Trail
  • Kapena Falls
  • Maunawili Falls
  • La’ie Falls
  • Jackass Ginger Pool

    Oahu has so many outdoor activities and there is always something for everyone. From relaxing at some of the best beaches in the Northshore to gazing at some of the best waterfalls in Hawaii, Oahu never disappoints.

    The waterfalls in Oahu are very beautiful and I can assure you that no matter which ones you decide on, you will not be let down. 

    Please be sure to do your own due diligence and map out the hike before leaving your hotel or vacation rental. This will ensure that you are well prepared and will allow you to plan accordingly.

    Keep reading this post to learn more about these amazing hikes.

    DISCLAIMER

    Please be sure to assess each hike carefully and use caution as you travel. My recommendations should not replace advice from your medical professionals, law enforcement, etc.

    Here are my top picks for the best 9 waterfall hikes in Oahu

    Manoa Falls

    If you are in Oahu you have to visit Manoa Falls. They are located 15 minutes from Waikiki, which makes them very accessible and probably the most popular falls in Oahu.

    One of my favorite things about this hike is that it’s a relatively short and very easy hike.

    View of the Manoa Falls with people standing by the pool below the waterfall
    Manoa Falls

    The hike up to the waterfall is very scenic and I would recommend this to anyone looking for the best picturesque waterfalls. This is a must if you are ever in Oahu.

    The waterfall itself is gorgeous, standing at about 150 feet tall.  The waterfall empties into a small pool of water, but swimming is not recommended due to the threat of becoming infected with Leptospirosis.

    If you decide to swim in any of the waterfalls I mention in this post please be sure to not have open wounds and to not drink the water. Also, be very careful of falling rocks in and around the waterfall.

    Waimea Falls

    Waimea Falls are located within the Waimea Valley about 26 miles from Waikiki. The trail to the waterfall is paved all the way and it’s an easy hike up to the falls.

    If you love walks in nature, then you will love the walk up to the waterfall. It is filled with so many beautiful plants and offers some of the best views. 

    I recommend taking some time to explore some of the side trails and experience the beauty that this place offers.

    3 people swimming in Waimea Falls after hiking the short trail
    Waimea Falls

    Likeke Falls

    Another one of my favorites, Likeke Falls are located right below the Pali Lookout. It encompasses a two-tiered waterfall that offers gorgeous views.

    There are two main ways to get to the waterfall and the route you take will mainly depend on the amount of time you have or how strenuous of a hike you are looking for.

    You can take the easy route (like we did) from the bottom of the Ko’ola Gold Club and walk up to the waterfall which takes about 20 minutes.

    It can take less time if you don’t make as many stops as we did. We took our time to “stop and smell the roses”, as we were in no rush.

    The second way you can hike to the waterfall is by going down from the Pali Lookout which takes about 1 hour and 30 minutes.

    Please make sure to do your research before choosing this route as it’s said to be very strenuous. 

    Waimano Falls

    Waimano Falls is located near Pearl City in Oahu, about 15.6 miles from Honolulu.

    It took us 45 minutes to get to the waterfall and about the same time to get back. We also spent about 30 minutes relaxing at the waterfall. The total time spent was about 2 hours.

    We hiked this trail after a period of no rain and unfortunately, the waterfall was dry and this was the pool. Make sure to go after some days of rain to see the waterfall in its glory!

    The hike itself is very difficult, so make sure to plan accordingly and know your comfort level. There are steep areas both on the way to the falls and on the way back. 

    On rainy days, the hike to the waterfall is very muddy which makes it harder to hike, however, this is when the waterfall is the most beautiful.

    The waterfall is stunning and totally worth the hike to get to it.

    Kahekili Trail

    This trail is located 15 miles from Honolulu and offers amazing views. The hike to the waterfall is very scenic and has ropes to help you up if needed.

    I always used to be the one to laugh at ropes, but ever since my trip to Hawaii I appreciate them more and use them every chance I get.

    We did not do this hike ourselves, but our friends told us that it took them about 2.5 hours to complete it. This time also included frequent stops.

    The trail itself is very well-maintained but is a very difficult hike. I would not recommend this hike for inexperienced hikers as it’s very steep.

    Do not attempt to hike this when it’s windy or wet. As always, remember to exercise caution.

    Kapena Falls

    Kapena Falls is located a few steps from the Pali Highway and are considered to be one of Oahu’s most accessible waterfalls. This one is a great option for those of you that have kids, as it’s a very easy hike.

    The hike is about 0.5 miles long round trip and offers beautiful views. You can literally see the waterfall a few minutes into the hike since it’s so short.

    The trail will lead you to the pool’s edge which gives a view of the 20-foot waterfall.

    There is a local cliff jumping spot located at the top of the falls. Kapena Falls is one of our top places to cliff jump in Oahu. Be careful if jumping into the water as injuries have been reported here before. Jump at your own risk.

    The Kapaena Falls Hike some amazing views in Oahu
    Kapena Falls

    Maunawili Falls

    The Maunawili Falls are located near Kailua, about 30 miles from Waikiki. The hike is very moderate and offers some of the most spectacular views I have ever seen. The total trip is about 2.8 miles long.

    There are two jumps at the end and the waterfall is very beautiful but can get crowded in the afternoon.

    If you are anything like me and do not like big crowds, be sure to visit early mornings instead of the afternoons.

    I saw a bunch of families with kids doing this hike, which is a very good sign of an easy to moderate hike.

    The Maunawili Falls in Oahu are spectacular
    Maunawili Falls

    La’ie Falls

    The La’ie Falls is a two-tiered waterfall located near the town of La’ie on the windward side of Oahu.

    The hike is 7 miles round trip and can take up to 4 hours depending on your pace and how often you stop. It is rated as moderate to difficult.

    The hike to the falls will take you through pine forests and bamboo forest-lined cliffs. The hike is steep in some areas so be prepared for that as well.

    I do not recommend this hike for those of you that have kids or inexperienced hikers in your group.

    Jackass Ginger Pool

    This one is also located a few minutes from the Pali Highway and is easily accessible as well. 

    A lot of people consider the Ginger Pool to be more of a swimming hole than a waterfall attraction, but I still believe it belongs on this list.

    This small pool has 10-foot waterfalls and it’s about 8 feet deep. There is a rope for swinging into the water and I saw at least 3 locals take the plunge.

    If you are an adventure-seeking person, jump at your own risk and always exercise caution.

    FAQs on Oahu Waterfall Hikes

    Is swimming safe at Waimea Falls?

    Yes, it’s safe to swim in the falls. Be sure to call (808) 638-7766 to confirm the status of swimming as it changes throughout the day depending on the weather.

    The swimming conditions can range from regular swimming to limited swimming, and no swimming.

    One thing to note about Waimea Falls is that all guests are required to wear a life vest before swimming here. The cost of the life vest is included in your admission fee.

    Is there an entrance fee at Waimea Falls?

    Yes, an entrance fee is required to enter. Below is a breakdown of the fees when this article was written. Be sure to check updated pricing directly at the Waimea Valley admission website.

    Admission Fees:

    Adult        $20

    Senior       $16 (age 62+)

    Student     $16 (college student must present ID)

    Child          $12 (ages 4-12)

    Group Rate $16 per person (group of over 10 adults)

    How long does it take to Hike Waimea Falls?

    Depending on the person, it might take anywhere between 20-30 minutes to hike to the falls. This is about ¾ of a mile (or 1.5 miles round trip). 

    Shuttle rides are also available for those that might need them. Pick-up starts at 9:45AM and they cost $10 per person each way. They pick up at Hale Ho’ike to the Wailele Waterfall.  

    Is there an entrance fee for Manoa Falls?

    Entry to the falls is free, but there is a $5 parking fee if you choose to park at the start of the trail.

    Is it easy to hike Manoa Falls?

    Yes, Manoa Falls is one of the easier hikes I have ever done. The hike is very short (about 1.6 miles round trip) which makes it great for kids as well. The trail has a lot of shade and it’s very well-maintained.

    Be sure to bring proper hiking shoes for Hawaii as it can get very muddy, and you’ll most likely find loose rocks everywhere.

    Is Manoa Falls still closed?

    No, Manoa Falls are now open.

    How long is the Lulumahu Falls hike?

    The Lulumahu Falls hike takes about 1 hour 30 minutes round trip. This hike is not an easy hike like Manoa Falls.

    You will have to hike through the river, mud, and a bamboo forest to get to the water. With that being said, the water is beyond beautiful and totally worth it.

    What to wear on a waterfall hike?

    Be sure to bring some good hiking shoes suitable for Hawaii. I recommend water shoes, since they are made for this type of terrain, and they dry off easily.

    Are Hamama Falls closed?

    Unfortunately, as of March 2021, the gorgeous Hamana Falls are closed indefinitely. This is now considered private government property and it’s no longer legal to hike here. 

    This would have made my list as one of the best waterfall hikes in Oahu, but unfortunately, things have changed.

    There are numerous no trespassing signs all over so be sure to respect the land and obey all laws. There are other hikes to do that are legal.

    Hamama Falls have one of the best waterfall views in the Big Island
    Hamama Falls

    What are some kid-friendly waterfall hikes in Oahu?

    Manoa Falls and Waimea Falls are my top picks for kid-friendly waterfall hikes in Oahu. Both hikes are considered relatively easy and are well-maintained. 

    The Wrap Up: What are the best waterfall hikes in Oahu?

    To sum it up, Oahu has so many incredible options when it comes to waterfall hikes. If you are looking for easy but beautiful hikes, be sure to check out Manoa Falls and Waimea Falls.

    If you are looking for strenuous hikes, then go for the Waimano Falls and Likeke Falls using the Pali Lookout route. 

    Regardless of which hike you decide on, your adventure will be filled with so much beautiful nature and you will be rewarded with gorgeous waterfalls!

    If you are on the Big Island of Hawaii and want to visit waterfalls, you can check out my other article on the Top 9 waterfalls to visit while on the Big Island.

    If you’re wanting to hike on the North Shore of Oahu, make sure to check out our favorite hikes in the area.

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