Waimano Falls: Everything You Need to Know About the Hike + Waterfall (2023)
Have you ever wanted to hike to Waimano Falls?
If so, then this blog post is for you! We’ll tell you everything about the trail, how to get there, and what to expect.
Plus, we’ll give you some tips for making your trip as enjoyable as possible.
Waimano Falls is one of the most popular waterfall hikes on Oahu. It’s an intermediate hike, but it’s also beautiful and rewarding. It’s also one of the best places to cliff jump on Oahu (if the conditions are right for it).
The trail leads to a stunning waterfall that cascades into a pool at its base. There are also rope swings that can add to the fun. If the conditions allow, you can swim in the pool or relax by it and enjoy the views.
Read on and find out everything you need to know about hiking to Waimano Falls!
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.
Waimano Falls Trail Information
Distance: 2.9 miles (round trip)
Elevation Gain: 810 ft
Route Type: Out & back
How Long Does it Take: About 2 hours round trip
Highlights of the Trail: Waimano Falls, pool, rope swings
How to Get to Waimano Falls
Waimano Falls is located in Pearl City, Oahu. The best way to get there is by car.
- From Waikiki, take the I-H-1-W
- Continue on I-H-1-W, then take the I-H-201 W and I-H-1 W to Moanalua Road in Waimalu.
- Take exit 10 from I-H-1 W, then turn right onto Moanalua Rd
- Turn right onto Waimano Home Rd
- Turn left onto Komo Mai Dr and take this road all the way to the end
Waimano Falls Map
Parking at Waimano Falls
Parking is located in a residential neighborhood. Depending on when you get there, you may have to park a ways away from the trailhead.
Be sure to respect the residents and follow proper parking protocols. Do not block driveways or mailboxes, and try not to be too loud.
We got here around 3:00 PM, and there was a lot of parking close to the start of the trail.
Hiking the Trail to Waimano Falls
The start of the trail is located at the cul-de-sac. See the below photo.
The green gate will most likely be closed, but don’t let it discourage you from hiking. You can use the sides to get past the gate. It is only there to block vehicles from entering.
The Start of the Trail
The first part of the trail starts flat and is shaded in some parts.
Then you get to a section that’s not covered, so make sure to add sunscreen and a hat to your Hawaii packing list.
I usually wear a rashguard instead of sunscreen the majority of the time.
This section is flat and nicely paved, which was a great way to warm up for the hike.
Once you get past this open area, the rest of the trail is pretty covered. You are basically hiking into a beautiful forest with spectacular views.
You will then start hiking through the roots section of the trail.
Be sure to follow the trail markers to stay on track.
Once you get to this point (see below picture), follow the Waimano Waterfall sign to the right. This is where it officially becomes Waimano Falls Trail.
The Middle Section of the Trail
The middle section of the trail is more challenging than the first part. I am not sure if this is a good thing, but some people might agree that it is easier hiking down to the falls than coming up on the way back.
You are pretty much descending the entire time here. It might get a little challenging coming back up as this is an out and back trail, meaning that you have to climb back up to get back to your car.
Also, it’s very important to note that this trail can get extremely muddy if hiked after heavy rainfall.
This is a little conflicting because many people hike here to see the waterfall. For the waterfall to be flowing, it requires recent heavy rainfall, but then again, the trail is challenging if it is extremely muddy and slippery.
With that being said, be careful hiking down—especially after heavy rainfall.
You will also start to see some sections with ropes to help you descend.
Don’t be afraid to use the ropes if they are in good condition.
Test the ropes first before using them, and never trust them entirely by putting your entire weight on them.
Trust me, you do not want to be the person holding on to that rope when it fails for the time.
The Last Part of the Trail
The trail will continue to get steeper, but it’s not anywhere near as some of the more challenging hikes in Oahu—such as the Olomana Trail and Koko Head. In our opinion, the Kuliouou Ridge Trail was more difficult than Waimano Falls.
The Waimano Falls hike is very doable. Just pace yourself and take as many breaks as you need.
This part of the trail has more sections with ropes and some rocky and rooty areas. Again, be careful and you will be okay.
Once you reach this section (see below photo), you are only minutes away from the falls.
Continue to follow the trail markers, and you will eventually see the falls.
The below photos are from our recent trip to Waimano Falls. We were lucky enough to go a few days after heavy rainfall when the waterfall was in its glory.
The freshwater pool at the bottom of the falls was deep enough for swimming, and we spent a few hours enjoying the serene atmosphere and stunning lush scenery.
We started our hike to the falls around 7:20 am, and when we got there, only two other people were in the pool. We had the entire waterfall to ourselves since there are two pools you can swim in, and not everyone was in the water simultaneously.
If you prefer to avoid crowds, make sure to get there early, as the waterfall starts to get quite busy after 10:00 am.
We ran into multiple groups of people on the hike back, and we were glad to have started early. You can also go towards the end of the day to avoid the crowds; make sure to leave before dark and give yourself enough time to hike back.
Our First Time Hiking Waimano Falls
Unfortunately for us, the below picture is what we were greeted with at the end of the trail back in 2022.
The waterfall was completely dry due to the lack of rainfall. The little water that was in the pool was not moving at all. We decided not to swim here because of the fear of leptospirosis (more on this later).
This one was totally on us for not checking the weather before hiking.
It was a great disappointment as the hike here wasn’t a walk in the park. Regardless, we were thankful for the excellent exercise and for experiencing the trail.
So now you know, if your priority is to swim in the waterfall, make sure it’s been raining for a few days before hiking this trail.
Also, you can quickly tell if the waterfall is flowing just by hearing it from a distance. The roaring water was music to our ears the second time we hiked the trail.
Tip: Always ask other hikers coming back up if the waterfall is flowing. We wish someone had told us sooner, but it wasn’t until the last few minutes of the hike that someone warned us of the dry waterfall.
Tips for Hiking to Waimano Falls
Check the weather: Make sure it has been raining in the past few days so the waterfall is flowing.
Use caution: Parts of the trail can get slippery, especially after rainfall. There are ropes in some sections to help you descend safely.
Wear proper hiking shoes for Hawaii: I wore my Keen sandals on this hike, and they did great.
Pack food and water: Never hike without food and water. This is very important for obvious reasons.
Bring insect repellent: This is crucial, especially if you are hiking during the summertime. Mosquitoes can be very bothersome on this trail.
Know your abilities: This hike is doable for most people, but make sure you know what to expect before hiking.
Leptospirosis Risk at Waimano Falls
There is a risk of contracting leptospirosis at Waimano Falls. Generally speaking, there is a risk every time we swim in waterfall pools, rivers, streams, and lakes.
This is a bacterial infection that can be contracted by contact with water or soil contaminated with the urine of infected animals, such as rodents.
Symptoms of leptospirosis include fever, rash, muscle aches, chills, vomiting, and diarrhea. Please see a doctor if you think you may have been exposed to leptospirosis.
Always examine the water conditions before swimming in waterfall pools, and always use your best judgment before swimming.
A good rule of thumb is to never swim in waterfalls or bodies of water if the water is not moving.
Waimano Falls: Frequently Asked Questions
Can you swim in Waimano Falls?
Yes, you can swim here but be aware of Leptospirosis.
Do I need a guide to hike to Waimano Falls?
You do not need a guide, but it is always a good idea to have a hiking buddy.
Is Waimano Falls open?
Yes, it is currently open at the time of writing this post.
Is there an entrance fee?
No, there is no entrance fee for this hike.
What other waterfalls can you swim in on Oahu?
Some other popular waterfalls to swim in are Waimea Valley and Maunawili Falls.
What is the best waterfall hike on Oahu?
So far, our personal favorites are Waimano Falls, Manoa Falls (early in the morning when fewer people are there) and Maunawili Falls.
Waimano Falls: The Wrap Up
The Waimano Falls Hike is a great way to get some exercise, and if you are lucky, you will get to see the waterfall in all its glory. Just make sure it has been raining recently to ensure the waterfall is flowing.
Parts of the trail can be slippery, so use caution. Be prepared with food, water, and insect repellent.
Mahalo for reading our post. Until next time, Aloha, and happy hiking in Oahu!
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