No bikes allowed on the Manoa Falls Trail, shame it would make a fab downhill run!
A couple of bus rides from Waikiki and a little walking takes you around an hour to reach the Manoa Falls Trail. You’ll never get bored of the volcanic ridge backdrops on Oahu, so the journey passes all too quickly.
The bus drops you off in a small village, hike a little further and you’ll come to an ex-bird sanctuary on your right. It is now a snack shop. The place has been run by the same family for decades and they hope to reopen as a bird sanctuary one day. A short way past this is the entrance to the Manoa Falls Trail.
The trail to the falls is all up-hill. The surfaces vary, but are mainly earth and rock. They’re mostly naturally formed, being quite uneven, with small boulders to step on at times. There are a few sets of earth-shoring beams creating steps here and there. Flipflops wouldn’t really be suitable for the hike but trainers are fine, in the dry. I haven’t been when it’s wet but can imagine it’s a completely different story then. I think it would be incredibly slippery.
There’s some rain forest foliage: bamboo, palms and trees on the hike, along with some burbling from a few streams along the way. Plenty of photo opportunities.
It’s neither a long nor difficult climb, although a lady I met had had knee replacements and I think she found it a little on the heavy-going side, but managed it nonetheless.
Once at the falls, which are 150 feet high, there isn’t anything to do except take a look and a photo. Unfortunately because some visitors decide to enter the fenced off area around the pool at the bottom, to get a decent photo, you also have to. This involves clambering over some large boulders.
It’s recommended that you don’t swim in the pool due to the possibility of contracting Leptospirosis, a flu like bug. I wonder if this is a real threat or more a ploy to keep the water clean? I wouldn’t blame them if it was, as it would become party central if it was thought OK to swim there. The pool is quite small, if there’s twenty people around it, it is busy. I went mid-winter, mid-February, around 2pm, it wasn’t too busy. You will be walking past others quite often but not to a point where the hike is spoilt.
There’s no real need to stay long, there’s a bench to have a sit down, that’s about it. Again, if it had been rainy I can imagine the face of the falls changing as there are warning signs of flash flooding and rock falls. With the size of the boulders you wouldn’t want to be caught in that.
Some had made their way too the top of the falls, this involves taking off into the rain forest on your left just before the falls. It is then a scramble up large boulders to reach the top and also crossing a fence, therefore becoming a trespasser. I didn’t make that hike so I can’t tell you what sort of view you get, but the guys up there did look quite precariously balanced!
The return to the trail entrance is the way you came. In all it took around an hour from start to return. It’s not very far, perhaps half a mile each way.
The buses run up to the village every hour from Waikiki, so there’s no need to rush. The bus numbers are offered on Google maps and are fully integrated, with GM telling you not only which bus to take but times, transfer stops and if they’re running on time etc. The drivers, thus far, have been very friendly and helpful. You can buy an all day bus pass for $5.50, which is fab.
A nice afternoon's little hike with a pretty waterfall at the end of it, does what it says on the tin as it were!
There is an arboretum directly next to the entrance, but it closes at 4pm weekdays and 3pm weekends. It’s a shame it was too late for me to take a look around.
No charge to walk the trail
Parking is available, not sure if there is a charge
Water is not available on the trail
The shop/cafe does have toilets