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Top 10 Best Waterfall Hikes in Oahu


Oahu Waterfall at Sunset

Introduction: Best Waterfall Hikes in Oahu

Oahu, Hawaii, is a treasure trove of natural wonders, and among its most enchanting attractions are its numerous waterfalls. Whether you're an avid hiker or simply a nature enthusiast, exploring these waterfall hikes in Oahu is a chance to immerse yourself in the island's breathtaking landscapes. In this guide, we'll take you on a journey through the top 10 waterfall hikes that Oahu has to offer, each promising a unique adventure and an opportunity to connect with the captivating beauty of Hawaii's natural environment.


Manoa Falls

1. Manoa Falls

Manoa Falls Trail is a beloved gem among Oahu's waterfall hikes, and it's conveniently located just a short drive from bustling Waikiki. This 1.6-mile round-trip hike meanders through a lush rainforest that seems straight out of a fairy tale. Along the way, you'll be surrounded by towering bamboo groves, vibrant wild ginger, and a vibrant tapestry of tropical flora.


At the trail's end, you'll discover the pièce de résistance: Manoa Falls, a breathtaking 150-foot waterfall that gracefully descends into a serene pool. The sight of this majestic waterfall against the backdrop of the verdant forest is simply awe-inspiring, and the opportunity to take a refreshing dip in the pool makes this hike an island favorite.


Waimea Falls with people swimming

2. Waimea Falls

Nestled on Oahu's North Shore, the Waimea Valley is not only home to a captivating waterfall but also offers a rich cultural and botanical experience. The Waimea Falls hike covers approximately 1.5 miles round trip, leading you through meticulously maintained botanical gardens showcasing a diverse array of indigenous Hawaiian plants.


As you explore the gardens, you'll encounter informative signs explaining the cultural significance of these plants to Hawaii. Along the way, you might even witness hula performances and other cultural demonstrations, adding depth to your hike.


The culmination of your journey is, of course, Waimea Falls itself. This 45-foot waterfall is a stunning sight as it plunges into a tranquil pool below. Swimming is not only allowed but encouraged, making it a perfect spot to cool off and enjoy the rejuvenating waters surrounded by the lushness of nature.


Maunawili Falls

3. Maunawili Falls

For those seeking a moderately challenging hike that leads to a rewarding waterfall experience, the Maunawili Falls Trail on Oahu's Windward side is an ideal choice. Covering approximately 2.5 miles round trip, this hike takes you through the island's lush rainforest environment, offering a perfect blend of adventure and natural beauty.


One of the highlights of this hike is the lush surroundings. As you navigate the trail, you'll be enveloped by dense vegetation, including towering trees, colorful flowers, and vibrant ferns. The trail can get muddy, especially after rainfall, so wearing sturdy hiking shoes is essential.

The grand finale of this hike is the serene Maunawili Falls. Known for its gentle cascade into a calm pool, it's the perfect spot for a refreshing swim and a chance to revel in the natural beauty that envelops you.


Lulumahu Falls

4. Lulumahu Falls

Lulumahu Falls, tucked away in the heart of Oahu, is a hidden gem among the island's waterfall hikes. This 2.5-mile hike guides you through a captivating bamboo forest, past ancient Hawaiian ruins, and into a secluded valley. The trail is relatively unmarked, so it's crucial to follow the advice of local hikers or use a reliable hiking app or GPS device for navigation.


One of the unique aspects of this hike is the historical significance of the area. Along the way, you'll encounter ancient rock walls and remnants of an old dam, offering a glimpse into Hawaii's rich cultural heritage. It's vital to respect these historical sites and the environment as you explore.


Your ultimate reward at the end of the hike is the stunning Lulumahu Falls. Nestled amidst lush greenery, this waterfall creates a picturesque scene. The tranquil atmosphere and untouched beauty of this location make it a special place to connect with nature and savor the serenity that Oahu has to offer.


Likeke Falls

5. Likeke Falls

The Likeke Falls Trail on Oahu's Windward Coast offers a moderately challenging 2.5-mile hike with panoramic views of the island's stunning landscapes. As you follow the trail, you'll be treated to sweeping vistas of lush valleys, rugged mountains, and the sparkling Pacific Ocean.


The trail takes you through a rainforest environment, offering an opportunity to connect with Oahu's vibrant natural beauty. Towering trees, colorful flora, and the sound of birdsong surround you as you make your way to the falls.


At the end of the hike, you'll discover the serene Likeke Falls. This waterfall is tucked away from the bustling tourist areas, creating a peaceful and intimate setting. It's an ideal spot to escape the crowds, enjoy a moment of solitude, and soak in the tranquility of Oahu's natural landscapes.


Waikane Falls

6. Waikane Falls

For a hidden gem in the lush Ka'a'awa Valley, look no further than the Waikane Falls hike. Covering approximately 2.5 miles round trip, this hike guides you through dense tropical vegetation, creating a sense of adventure as you journey deeper into the valley.

The trail follows the Waikane Stream, adding to the overall charm of the hike. You'll find yourself surrounded by towering trees, vibrant plants, and the soothing sounds of the flowing water. It's a true escape into Oahu's natural paradise.

At the end of the trail, you'll be rewarded with the mesmerizing Waikane Falls. This 30-foot waterfall is a hidden gem, and its secluded location ensures a peaceful and intimate experience. The sight of the cascading water against the backdrop of the valley's greenery is nothing short of spectacular.


Waipuhia "upside down" Waterfall

7. Waipuhia Falls

Venture into the Manoa Valley for the Waipuhia Falls hike, also known as "The Upside Down Waterfall." This 3-mile round trip hike offers a unique and captivating experience as you encounter a horizontally flowing waterfall surrounded by the lush beauty of Hawaii's rainforest.


The journey begins with a hike through a bamboo forest, creating an immersive atmosphere. As you continue along the trail, you'll cross a freshwater stream, adding to the adventure. It's essential to navigate carefully and take your time, especially if the trail is wet or muddy.


Your destination, Waipuhia Falls, is a sight to behold. The waterfall flows horizontally over a cliff, creating a surreal and mesmerizing visual effect. It's a testament to the extraordinary beauty that Oahu has to offer, and it's sure to leave a lasting impression.


Sacred Falls

8. Sacred Falls

The Sacred Falls Trail presents a challenging 2.8-mile hike along Oahu's Windward Coast. While the falls themselves are currently inaccessible due to safety concerns, the trail still offers an opportunity to explore the island's lush landscape and observe cascading streams amidst breathtaking scenery.


The trail begins with a gradual ascent, providing stunning views of the surrounding valleys and coastline. As you continue, you'll find yourself surrounded by dense vegetation and the sounds of nature, creating a serene and immersive experience.


While the endpoint may not lead to the falls themselves, the journey is a destination in its own right. The lush landscapes, the scent of wildflowers, and the tranquility of the trail make it a memorable hike that offers a deeper connection to Oahu's natural beauty.


Ka'au Crater Falls

9. Ka'au Crater

If you're seeking an epic adventure, the Ka'au Crater Trail beckons with its 5-mile round-trip trek that traverses diverse terrain. This hike takes you through a wide range of environments, including dense rainforest, open ridges, and rocky terrain.


One of the highlights of the Ka'au Crater Trail is the presence of three magnificent waterfalls along the way. The first waterfall, with a height of 15 feet, flows into a pristine pool—an ideal spot for a quick swim. The second waterfall, at 25 feet, is a stunning sight framed by lush greenery. Finally, the third waterfall, a grand 40-foot cascade, serves as the trail's climax, offering a mesmerizing display of nature's beauty.


Amidst the waterfall adventures, you'll also have the opportunity to enjoy panoramic views of the island's southern coast. The Ka'au Crater Trail is an all-encompassing experience, offering not only the magic of waterfalls but also the thrill of exploration and discovery.


Aiea Falls

10. Aiea Falls

The Aiea Loop Trail spans approximately 4.8 miles round trip, providing panoramic views of Oahu's southern coast and the neighboring landscapes. As you follow the trail, you'll be led to Aiea Falls, a beautiful 20-foot waterfall that adds a perfect finishing touch to your outdoor adventure.


The Aiea Loop Trail offers a different perspective of Oahu's landscapes, with wide-open vistas that reveal the island's natural beauty. Along the trail, you'll encounter a diverse range of plant life, including guava trees and mountain apple trees. The scent of wild ginger and the chirping of native birds create a symphony of nature that enhances your hiking experience.


Upon reaching Aiea Falls, you'll find a refreshing pool beneath the waterfall, making it an inviting spot to relax and enjoy a well-deserved break. It's a peaceful and scenic conclusion to your adventure on the Aiea Loop Trail.


Conclusion

The top 10 best waterfall hikes in Oahu offer an incredible array of experiences, from tranquil forest walks to challenging ascents and rewarding waterfall discoveries. As you embark on these journeys, always remember to respect the environment, follow trail guidelines, and practice Leave No Trace principles to ensure these pristine locations are preserved for generations to come. For updates on trails and general safety tips for hiking in Hawaii, click here.


These hikes not only provide an opportunity to witness the extraordinary beauty of Oahu's waterfalls but also allow you to immerse yourself in the island's natural wonders. Whether you're a seasoned hiker or a casual adventurer, these trails offer a chance to connect with nature, create cherished memories, and leave you with a deep appreciation for the beauty of Oahu's natural treasures. So, lace up your hiking boots, pack some snacks, and get ready to explore the captivating beauty of Oahu's waterfalls—it's an experience you'll treasure forever.

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