The Hawaiian Islands are home to amazing waterfalls that flow from amazing heights. You’ll find waterfalls on the north and east sides of Oahu; many of which lie in the heart of a tropical rainforest. We compiled our top favorite waterfall hikes in Oahu that are not only breathtaking but also easily accessible to travelers.
1. Waimea Falls
Waimea Falls is a nature gem located across from Waimea Valley. This is the easiest hike and most accessible waterfall on Oahu’s North Shore which is great for beginners. The 3.5-mile hike takes you through a dense rainforest which provides a green canopy as you stroll through the paved trail. The hike takes about half an hour each way but those who are not a fan of long walks can ride a golf cart.
Marvel at the lush foliage including tall bamboo trees, hear birds chirping, and listen to the distinctive sound of water crashing against the rocks as you get closer to your destination. Nothing compares to the first sight of the dazzling 45-foot waterfalls. This moment is truly unforgettable. The water of the natural pool at the end of the waterfalls is so pure because it comes straight from the middle of the ocean and the rain clouds that hover at the tip of the mountain. The pristine pool is usually great for swimming (depending on daily waterfall conditions) and there are lifeguards on duty who can provide life jackets.
2. Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls is the second easiest waterfall route located just 15 minutes away from Honolulu. It takes about half an hour to reach the awe-inspiring falls which tower at about 150 feet. The Manoa Falls trail is a bit more challenging, especially for elders compared to Waimea Falls because of its uphill slope. This waterfall hike is ideal for beginners/intermediate.
The trees along the path provide a welcome shade as you make your way through the trail. The sight of huge banyan trees, colorful tropical flowers, a beautiful bamboo grove, and the scent of the eucalyptus trees will make you feel closer to nature. There’s a small pool below the very tall waterfall but swimming is not allowed. The unobstructed panoramic view of the misty green valleys makes the journey worth every step.
3. Lulumahu Falls
Another beautiful waterfall in Oahu is the Lulumahu Falls, nestled near Pali Highway. This hidden gem is rated as an intermediate 2-mile round trip hike that takes around 40 minutes. A local guide can help you reach your destination so you won’t get lost in the intricate trail. You’ll pass through a bamboo forest, monkeypod forest, and guava forest before reaching the dense rainforest. The adventure continues as you cross four rivers with the expansive blue sky overhead. There’s a set of stone steps that leads to an old reservoir. The sight of the 50-foot-plus waterfalls is the ultimate reward of your journey. The small nature pool at the foot of Lulumahu Falls is ideal for floating but not swimming. You can stand under the waterfalls, by the rocks and have your photo taken. Capture the beautiful moments with your camera and bring home a lifetime of memories.
4. Waimano Falls
The journey to Waimano Falls takes you on a 2.9-mile round trip through the forest. It’s an advanced hike with gorgeous scenery that leads you to an amazing tiered waterfall. It’s fascinating to see the water trickle down to several smaller falls before ending in a deep swimming hole. For adventure seekers, there are several jumping points with rope swings to help you plunge into the pool.
Waimano Falls is popular because Avatar is filmed in this breathtaking valley. It’s a 5-hour hike, in and out. The area is also noted for its pristine swim groves.
Begin your waterfall adventure in Oahu
Hiking through a lush jungle that leads you to a majestic waterfall with crystal clear waters is a memorable adventure that you can share with family and friends. Waimea Falls, Manoa Falls, Lulumahu Falls, and Waimano Falls are just some of the incredible waterfalls on the island. We recommend going on an Oahu private tour to ensure a fun, safe, and successful waterfall hike.
For safety and convenience, we suggest that you wear comfortable clothes, hiking shoes, or other footwear with anti-skid or traction soles. You might also consider bringing sunblock, a hat, swimwear, and a compact towel. Happy hiking!