Best O‘ahu Waterfalls You Can Actually Visit
Rapids falling from great heights always leave us gazing in awe and reaching for the camera. Lucky for us, O‘ahu has some true beauties nestled among towering cliffs, lush rainforests, and botanical gardens. The great thing about these waterfalls is that they are all open to the public and easily accessible by foot, with well-marked trails and close proximity to the island’s main roads (and even shuttle service!). Read on for the best O‘ahu waterfalls you can visit right now.
All trails mentioned leading to O‘ahu waterfalls are currently open but may close at any time. We recommend checking City and County of Honolulu or State of Hawai‘i mandates and individual attractions for operating hours, updates, and social distancing measures before your hike. Please travel responsibly by treating Hawai‘i’s trails, creatures, sacred sites, residents, and areas of ecological restoration with respect. Refer to Hawai‘i’s Department of Land and Natural Resources website for additional hiking etiquette and safety preparedness information.
Just 11 miles west of downtown Honolulu, Waimano Falls is at its best after a good rain. The 3-mile out-and-back Manana Trail switchbacks through the trees to the cascading fall, and was even featured as one of Honolulu Magazine’s ‘Hikes of the Month’. The trek is relatively easy and has been described as family-friendly, (even with the aptly named ‘Cardiac Hill’, which all must traverse before reaching the fall). Follow the pink markers and be prepared to get your shoes muddy.
No doubt the most popular waterfall on the island, Manoa Falls is reached by a 0.8-mile well-maintained trail that gradually ascends through the rainforest. A series of gravel terrace steps at the end open up to a flat viewing area where one can observe the mind-blowing 150-foot waterfall. The trail is only five miles north of Waikiki and is family friendly, although not suitable for strollers or those who may have a hard time with mud after a heavy rain.
The two-tiered Likeke Falls is the most secluded of the bunch. Families will love the relaxing 1.5-mile trail through the forest, although frequent rains over the Ko’olau Mountains can create a slippery journey. Take note of the orchids, giant banyan trees, wild torch ginger, bird-of-paradise, and guava trees along the trail before reaching the beautiful 15-foot multi-tiered cascade.
A trip to Waimea Falls is well worth the trek to the North Shore. Across from Waimea Bay and nestled deep within Waimea Valley’s botanical garden, the 45-foot rain-fed waterfall lies at the end of a 0.75-mile paved path. The path winds through historical sites and a world-class garden containing rare and seasonal plants from Hawai‘i and abroad. Shuttle rides are available. Swimming is permitted in the cool 30-foot pond beneath the roaring falls, depending on conditions. Life vests are required and provided
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