If you’re looking for an easy outdoor adventure that will take your breath away, Manoa Falls is the hike for you!
When most people think of Hawaii the first thing that comes to mind is the best beaches, but the islands also have plenty of lush green valleys and mountains to explore as well.
The hike to Manoa Falls is a beautiful journey through a tropical rainforest. You’ll be surrounded by towering bamboo and beautiful plants throughout the journey.
At the end of the trail, you’ll find a thundering waterfall cascading down from over 150 feet up and into a mellow pool below.
Disclaimer: Hiking can be a dangerous activity. Please assess your own mental and physical health before attempting this hike. Content on this site is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical, health, or safety advice.
Manoa Falls Trail Important Information
Distance: About 1.7 miles (round trip)
Elevation Gain: 633 ft
Route Type: Out & back
Duration: 1-2 hours round trip
Highlights of the Trail: Gorgeous view of Manoa Falls
Terrain: Dirt and rocks
Manoa Falls Map
How to Get to Manoa Falls Trail
Manoa Falls is conveniently located about a 20-minute drive from the Waikiki area. The best way to get there is by car, or you can take the bus if you prefer that mode of transit.
1) By Car
If I were you I would just put Manoa Falls into the GPS, as it is pretty straightforward to find.
Below are the directions we used from Google Maps:
- Take Kalakaua Avenue to S King St
- Turn right onto S King St
- Take your first left onto Punahou St
- Punahou St will become Manoa Road; this will take you right to the parking area for Manoa Falls Trail
2) By Bus
You can take Bus #5 and #6 to get to the falls. Depending on where you start, you might need to make multiple transfers.
Please check the Moovit app for bus schedule information.
Both of these buses will require at least a 17-minute walk to get to the start of the trail.
I highly recommend driving or taking Uber/Lyft to maximize your time.
Manoa Falls Parking
You have two options for parking:
Park in the residential neighborhood and walk for about 0.3 miles to the start of the trail.
Paid parking at Manoa Falls: Parking at the Paradise Park parking lot is $5.00 per car. Plan your visit accordingly as this is a very popular tourist activity and parking fills up quickly.
If you are a morning person, try to get there right at opening time. If you are not a morning person, a good option is to get there towards the end of the day.
We randomly decided to stop here around 4:30 PM on a Sunday and we were able to quickly get parking compared to when we showed up at around noon.
Hiking the Manoa Falls Trail
To get to the start of the trail, you walk on a paved and shady path.
Once you get to the start of the Manoa Falls Trail, it turns into a dirt and rock path. If it has rained recently the path can be a little slippery, so please be cautious.
Make sure to wear proper hiking shoes as there are a lot of loose rocks on the path.
Overall this trail is not challenging, but the loose rocks add a slight level of difficulty or nuance to the trek.
The hike is one of the easiest hikes in Oahu with not too much of an elevation gain, but it can be steep in some parts.
When we hiked this trail we had just finished hiking one of the most strenuous hikes in Oahu—the Olomano Trail—and that was a big mistake on our end.
We were exhausted by the time we got to Manoa Falls, so I wouldn’t recommend anyone do that.
In all fairness, I have seen both little kids and older people hike to Manoa Falls.
Just take your time and pace yourself and you will be okay.
The cool thing about this hike is that you are hiking through a lush forest the entire time. The scenery all around is spectacular and you will feel like you are in a different world.
Getting Closer to the Waterfall
After hiking for about 30-45 minutes (depending on how fast you hike), you should start getting a sneak peek of the gorgeous waterfall.
Continue on the path and you will eventually get to the waterfall and pool.
You will have to hike through rocks to get to the actual waterfall, but it’s totally doable.
Also, you don’t have to hike down to enjoy the views of the waterfall. You can still get amazing views from the top viewing platform.
Once you get there, take your time and enjoy this majestic place!
Please note that there are falling rock signs here. Take them seriously and be cautious and aware of your surroundings at all times.
After taking in the views, it is time to head back the way you came. The hike back down is a lot easier than the hike there, so you should be able to make good time.
Swimming at Manoa Falls
Sadly, swimming is not allowed at Manoa Falls. There are signs everywhere that say it is prohibited.
With that being said, we did see at least four people swimming in the pool while we were there. If you somehow decide to swim, be very cautious of falling rocks and be aware of Leptospirosis. Swim at your own risk.
Even though you are not permitted to swim, the waterfall and pool are still worth visiting!
Things to Bring on the Hike
Plenty of water: Never go on a hike without water. This should be a rule for everyone. Hawaii can get pretty hot, especially during the summer months.
Sunscreen or a Rashguard: The sun can be pretty intense in Hawaii. Make sure to protect your skin.
Bug Spray: This is another thing that I would highly recommend for anyone going on this hike.
A Snack: It’s always good to have something to eat. Although this might be odd to some, I always add granola bars to my Hawaii packing list.
I get them from Costco and usually have multiple boxes on-hand. I pack them in my carry-on and eat them on the plane and while on the island. Alternatively, you can also buy these while in Hawaii.
A Camera: You will want to capture the memories of this hike, whether it’s with your smartphone or a dedicated camera.
Tips for Visiting Manoa Falls
Arrive early or later in the day to get a parking spot. Parking is $5 per car. This place can get super crowded, and it looks “like a zoo” at times. Try to beat the crowds as much as possible.
Wear proper hiking shoes: I recommend water hiking shoes like the Keen Sandals. I would usually wear these, but I already had on hiking boots after hiking the Olomana Trail. Note that you do not need hiking boots for this trail.
Pack out your trash: Please pack out what you bring in and leave the waterfall and pool area clean.
Be cautious of the falling rocks signs: As I mentioned earlier, please take these signs seriously. There have been fatalities here, so, please be careful.
Go after rainfall: If you want to see the waterfall in all of its glory, go after a few days of rain. We went after a few days of no rain, and while it was still pretty, we saw better photos of this waterfall. The waterfall is much more stunning then.
Tip: Also, if you plan to chase other waterfalls on Oahu, make sure to check the weather and go after days of rain.
On a previous day, we blindly hiked the Waimano Falls only to be greeted with a completely dry waterfall! Ouch!
Additional Things to Do Close to Manoa Falls
Visit the Lyon Arboretum: This is one of the best botanical gardens on Oahu. Be sure to stop by if you have some extra time.
Take a drive to the top of Tantalus Lookout: This is one of my favorite spots on Oahu. It’s a great place to watch the sunset or sunrise. There is also a great viewpoint here.
Get shave ice: Stop by Monsarrat Shave Ice or Shimazu Shave Ice and reward yourself with some of the best shave ice on Oahu.
Hike Diamond Head: If you feel adventurous, both of these hikes can be done in one day.
Visit Iolani Palace: If you want to learn more about the history of Hawaii, I would recommend visiting Iolani Palace. Located in downtown Honolulu, it’s an easy walk from the palace to many restaurants and shops.
Manoa Falls Frequently Asked Questions
Is the Manoa Falls hike closed?
Manoa Falls is now open.
Is the hike strenuous?
The hike is not considered strenuous.
How much does it cost to hike Manoa Falls?
It’s free to hike, but parking is $5.00 if you decide to park on-site.
What time is Manoa Falls open?
7:00 AM to 7:00 PM
What is the best time to hike Manoa Falls?
The best time to hike Manoa Falls is early morning or later in the day to avoid the crowds.
If you are looking for a beautiful waterfall to visit on Oahu, Manoa Falls is a great option.
The hike is not strenuous, and it’s located just a 20-minute drive from the hustle and bustle of urban Honolulu.
Bring plenty of water, sunscreen, bug spray, and snacks. And be sure to pack out what you bring in to help keep the waterfall and pool area clean.
Mahalo for reading our post! Until next time, aloha, and happy chasing waterfalls in Oahu!