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Manoa Falls Trail On Oahu, Hawaii: Complete Hiker’s Guide


Modified: December 28, 2023

by Susie Zapata



Welcome to the Manoa Falls Trail, a spectacular hiking destination located on the beautiful island of Oahu, Hawaii. This iconic trail is a favorite among adventure enthusiasts and nature lovers alike, offering a breathtaking journey through lush tropical rainforest and leading to the stunning Manoa Falls. Whether you are a seasoned hiker or a beginner looking for an exciting outdoor experience, the Manoa Falls Trail has something for everyone.


As you embark on this unforgettable trek, you will be mesmerized by the sheer beauty and tranquility of the surroundings. The trail takes you deep into the heart of the Manoa Valley, immersing you in a world of untouched natural beauty. With its dense foliage, towering trees, and vibrant flora, this trail is a real treat for the senses.


Not only will you get the chance to witness the majestic Manoa Falls, a 150-foot cascade of water plunging into a crystal-clear pool, but you will also have the opportunity to encounter a variety of indigenous plant and animal species along the way. From colorful birds to unique insects and rare plants, the Manoa Falls Trail is a paradise for nature enthusiasts and wildlife photographers.


Aside from its natural wonders, the Manoa Falls Trail also offers a glimpse into Hawaiian history and culture. This trail was once a sacred place for the native Hawaiians, and remnants of ancient stone walls and terraces can still be found along the path, adding to the trail’s allure and significance.


Whether you’re seeking adventure, solace in nature, or a chance to capture the beauty of Hawaii through your camera lens, the Manoa Falls Trail is sure to exceed your expectations. So lace up your hiking boots, grab your camera, and get ready to embark on an unforgettable journey through one of Oahu’s most captivating wonders.


Location and Overview

The Manoa Falls Trail is nestled within the Manoa Valley, located just a short drive from downtown Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. This scenic trail is easily accessible, making it a popular attraction for locals and tourists alike.


Surrounded by the stunning beauty of the Ko’olau Mountains, the Manoa Falls Trail stretches for about 1.6 miles (2.6 kilometers) and offers visitors a captivating journey through a tropical rainforest. The trail is well-maintained and suitable for hikers of all experience levels, although it does have some uneven terrain and can be slippery at times.


To reach the trailhead, simply follow Manoa Road until you reach the entrance of the Manoa Falls Trail. There is a designated parking lot available for visitors, but it can fill up quickly, especially on weekends or during peak tourist seasons. It is advisable to arrive early to secure a parking spot and avoid any potential congestion.


As you embark on the hike, you will immediately be greeted by the sights and sounds of nature. The trail winds its way through towering bamboo groves, dense vegetation, and panoramic views of the surrounding mountains. The air is filled with the fragrance of wild ginger and plumeria blossoms, creating a sensory experience that is simply unforgettable.


One of the main highlights of the trail is the stunning Manoa Falls itself. As you make your way closer to the waterfall, you will be awed by its sheer power and beauty. The 150-foot (46-meter) cascade plunges into a picturesque pool, creating a mesmerizing sight that is perfect for a refreshing dip or simply admiring from a safe distance.


While the Manoa Falls Trail is undoubtedly a breathtakingly beautiful hike, it is important to remember that it is also a fragile ecosystem. Visitors are encouraged to stay on the marked trail, respect the surrounding environment, and follow any posted guidelines to help preserve this natural wonder for future generations.


Overall, the Manoa Falls Trail on Oahu, Hawaii, offers a remarkable blend of natural beauty, cultural significance, and outdoor adventure. Whether you’re seeking solitude, exploration, or simply a chance to reconnect with nature, this trail is a must-visit destination for any adventurer.


Trailhead and Parking

The trailhead for the Manoa Falls Trail is conveniently located at the end of Manoa Road in Honolulu, Oahu. The trailhead is easily accessible by car or public transportation, making it a popular starting point for hikers of all levels.


There is a designated parking lot available for visitors, located just a short distance from the trailhead. However, due to the popularity of the trail, parking can be limited, especially during peak hours or on weekends. It is highly recommended to arrive early in the morning to secure a parking spot and avoid any potential inconvenience.


If the parking lot is full, there are additional parking options available along the surrounding streets. However, be sure to observe any parking restrictions and avoid blocking driveways or obstructing traffic.


For those who prefer to use public transportation, the number 5 bus route operated by TheBus stops near the entrance to the Manoa Falls Trail. This provides a convenient option for visitors without access to a car.


It is important to note that the parking lot and the trailhead area can get busy, especially during peak tourist seasons. Be prepared for a crowd and be mindful of other hikers as you start your adventure.


Before setting off on the trail, be sure to use the restroom facilities located near the parking lot. It is also advisable to pack water, snacks, and any necessary hiking gear, such as sturdy footwear, sunscreen, and insect repellent, for a comfortable and safe hiking experience.


Once you have parked and prepared for your hike, head towards the trailhead, where you will find informative signs providing details about the trail and safety guidelines. Familiarize yourself with any posted rules and regulations to ensure a pleasant and responsible hiking experience.


The trailhead is the starting point for your adventure into the enchanting beauty of the Manoa Falls Trail. As you embark on your journey, be prepared to be captivated by the lush greenery, majestic trees, and the promise of discovering the incredible Manoa Falls.


Trail Conditions and Difficulty

The Manoa Falls Trail offers a variety of trail conditions, from well-maintained paths to natural terrain that adds to the sense of adventure. While it is considered a relatively easy hike, it is important to be aware of the trail’s conditions and the potential challenges you may encounter.


The trail begins with a well-paved path that gradually transitions into a more natural trail with dirt and rocks. Parts of the trail can become muddy and slippery, particularly after periods of rainfall. It is advisable to wear sturdy footwear with good traction to navigate these sections safely.


As you make your way along the trail, you will encounter some uneven terrain, tree roots, and rocks. Take caution and watch your step to avoid any potential hazards. It is recommended to take your time, especially in areas with high foot traffic, to ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience.


While the trail is accessible to hikers of all levels, it does involve some inclines and stairs. The total elevation gain is approximately 800 feet (244 meters), which may require moderate physical exertion. Take breaks as needed and listen to your body to avoid overexertion.


Along the trail, you will find benches and rest areas where you can pause, catch your breath, and soak in the breathtaking views. It’s a great opportunity to take photos or simply enjoy the peaceful ambiance of the surrounding nature.


During periods of heavy rainfall, the trail may become temporarily closed for safety reasons. It is important to check for any trail closures before heading out. The best time to hike the Manoa Falls Trail is during the drier months, typically from April to October.


It is worth noting that the trail can be popular and crowded, especially on weekends and holidays. Be prepared to share the trail with other hikers and exercise proper trail etiquette, such as yielding to uphill hikers and staying on the designated path.


Overall, the Manoa Falls Trail presents a moderate hiking challenge with varying trail conditions. By being mindful of the terrain and taking necessary precautions, you can enjoy a rewarding and memorable hiking experience in the beautiful surroundings of the Manoa Valley.


Permits and Fees

Good news for adventure enthusiasts! There are no permits required to hike the Manoa Falls Trail. The trail is open to the public year-round, allowing visitors to explore the natural beauty of the area without any additional red tape.


However, it is important to note that there is a fee for parking at the designated parking lot. The parking fee contributes to the maintenance and preservation of the trail, ensuring its availability for future generations. The fee is typically nominal and helps to support the upkeep of the facilities and trails.


It is advisable to bring some cash with you to pay for parking, as credit card payment may not be available at the parking lot. Keep in mind that the parking lot can become full quickly, especially during peak hours, so arriving early is recommended to secure a parking spot.


By paying the parking fee, you are not only ensuring your own convenience but also contributing to the sustainability and conservation efforts of the trail. Your support helps to maintain the infrastructure and safeguard the trail for the enjoyment of visitors for years to come.


Remember to check for any updates regarding parking fees and regulations before your visit, as these may be subject to change. Stay informed and prepared to make your hiking experience on the Manoa Falls Trail as seamless and enjoyable as possible.


So, gather your hiking essentials, make sure you have cash for the parking fee, and get ready to immerse yourself in the beauty of the Manoa Falls Trail without the burden of permits or extensive fees.


Hiking Safety Tips

While hiking on the Manoa Falls Trail can be an incredible adventure, it is crucial to prioritize safety to ensure a pleasant and incident-free hiking experience. Here are some essential hiking safety tips to keep in mind:

  1. Stay on the designated trail: To protect the fragile ecosystem and avoid potential hazards, it is important to stick to the marked trail at all times. Straying from the trail can lead to damage to vegetation and increase your chances of encountering dangerous terrain or wildlife.
  2. Wear appropriate footwear: Choose sturdy and supportive shoes with good traction to navigate the uneven terrain and slippery sections of the trail. Avoid wearing sandals or flip-flops, as they can increase the risk of slipping or injuring your feet.
  3. Come prepared: Pack essential items such as water, snacks, sunscreen, insect repellent, a hat, and a first aid kit. The trail can be strenuous at times, and staying hydrated and protected from the elements is vital.
  4. Check weather conditions: Before heading out, check the weather forecast for the area. Hiking during heavy rain or storms can lead to unsafe conditions, such as slippery trails, flash floods, or falling tree branches. Consider rescheduling your hike if inclement weather is expected.
  5. Hike with a buddy: It is always advisable to hike with a companion, especially if you are unfamiliar with the trail. Having a companion can provide assistance in case of an emergency and add an extra layer of safety.
  6. Stay hydrated and take breaks: Drink plenty of water to stay hydrated during your hike, especially in the tropical climate of Hawaii. Take regular breaks to rest and replenish your energy levels.
  7. Respect wildlife and flora: While exploring the trail, appreciate the native plants and wildlife but do not disturb or harm them. Keep a safe distance from any animals you encounter and avoid feeding or approaching them.
  8. Leave no trace: Help preserve the natural beauty of the trail by leaving no trace behind. Pack out any trash and dispose of it properly. Minimize your impact on the environment by following the principles of Leave No Trace.
  9. Inform someone about your plans: Before starting your hike, let a family member or friend know about your plans, including the estimated duration of your hike. This way, someone will be aware of your whereabouts in case of any unforeseen circumstances.

By following these safety tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable hiking experience on the Manoa Falls Trail. Remember, the key to a successful hike is preparation, caution, and being mindful of the surrounding environment. Stay safe, have fun, and create lasting memories on this incredible trail.


Trail Highlights

The Manoa Falls Trail offers a plethora of captivating highlights that make it one of the most popular hiking destinations in Oahu, Hawaii. From the moment you set foot on the trail, you’ll be surrounded by natural wonders and breathtaking sights. Here are some of the trail’s highlights to look forward to:

  1. Manoa Falls: The star attraction of the trail, Manoa Falls, is a stunning 150-foot (46-meter) waterfall cascading into a crystal-clear pool. As you approach the falls, you’ll be awed by its sheer power and beauty. Take a moment to appreciate the magnificence of this natural spectacle.
  2. Lush Rainforest: The trail takes you through a lush tropical rainforest, enveloping you in a canopy of vibrant green foliage. As you walk amidst towering trees and dense vegetation, you’ll feel a sense of serenity and awe at the untouched natural beauty surrounding you.
  3. Scenic Views: Along the trail, you’ll encounter breathtaking views of the surrounding Ko’olau Mountains and the picturesque Manoa Valley. Stop at the designated viewpoints to soak in the panoramic vistas and capture some memorable photographs.
  4. Wildlife Encounters: Keep your eyes peeled for the native wildlife that inhabits the area. From colorful birds fluttering between the trees to unique insects buzzing around, the Manoa Falls Trail is a haven for nature enthusiasts and wildlife photographers.
  5. Cultural Significance: The trail carries significant cultural importance for the native Hawaiians. You may come across ancient stone structures and terraces that were once part of the agricultural practices of the indigenous people. Take a moment to appreciate and respect the cultural heritage of the area.
  6. Bamboo Groves: Experience the magic of walking through enchanting bamboo groves as they sway gently in the breeze. The towering bamboo stalks create an otherworldly atmosphere, transporting you to a serene and peaceful realm.
  7. Flora and Fauna: The Manoa Falls Trail is home to a wide variety of plant species, including tropical flowers, ferns, and moss-covered trees. Take in the delightful aromas and brilliant colors of the diverse flora that flourish along the trail.
  8. Rest Areas and Benches: The trail is dotted with benches and rest areas, providing you with the perfect opportunity to take a break and savor the tranquility of the surroundings. Sit back, relax, and enjoy the sights and sounds of nature.

These trail highlights add a touch of wonder and magic to your hiking experience on the Manoa Falls Trail. Immerse yourself in the beauty of nature, appreciate the cultural significance, and create unforgettable memories as you explore these remarkable attractions along the way.


Flora and Fauna

The Manoa Falls Trail is a haven for biodiversity, boasting a rich variety of flora and fauna that add to its allure. This enchanting trail will treat you to an array of unique plant species and the possibility of encountering fascinating wildlife. Here’s a glimpse of the flora and fauna you may encounter along the trail:




The trail meanders through a lush tropical rainforest, showcasing an impressive range of plant life. Look out for towering trees such as Kukui (candlenut), Ohia Lehua, and Bamboo, which create a majestic canopy overhead. The trail is also adorned with colorful flowers like Hibiscus, Plumeria, and Bird of Paradise, each adding a vibrant touch to the landscape. Ferns, mosses, and lichens blanket the forest floor, creating a magical and mysterious ambiance as you hike.




The Manoa Falls Trail is teeming with unique wildlife that calls the rainforest home. Keep your eyes and ears open for the melodious songs of native birds such as the ‘Amakihi, ‘Apapane, and Japanese White-eye. If you’re lucky, you may catch a glimpse of the striking red and green ‘I’iwi bird as it flits among the trees. In addition to birds, you might encounter exotic insects like colorful butterflies and dragonflies, showcasing the incredible diversity of life in this tropical paradise.


While hiking, it’s important to respect the natural habitat of the wildlife. Observe animals from a distance and avoid disturbing their natural behaviors. Remember to pack out any trash and avoid leaving any food behind, as it can attract pests and disrupt the ecosystem.


The Manoa Falls Trail provides a unique opportunity to immerse yourself in the wonders of nature. Take your time to appreciate the delicate balance between the flora and fauna, and embrace the peacefulness and harmony they create along the trail.


Photography Tips

The Manoa Falls Trail offers a plethora of breathtaking natural beauty and photo opportunities. Whether you’re an amateur photographer or a seasoned pro, this trail provides ample opportunities to capture stunning images. Here are some photography tips to help you make the most of your time on the Manoa Falls Trail:

  1. Timing is key: Consider visiting the trail during the early morning or late afternoon to take advantage of the soft, golden light that enhances the colors of the surroundings. Avoid midday when the sunlight can be harsh and create harsh shadows.
  2. Use a wide-angle lens: The rainforest canopy and the majestic waterfalls call for a wide-angle lens to capture the vastness and grandeur of the scenery. Wide-angle lenses are also ideal for capturing the intricate details of the foliage and the unique perspectives of the trail.
  3. Experiment with different angles: Don’t be afraid to get low or climb higher to explore different angles and perspectives. This can help you capture unique and creative shots that stand out from the typical photos. Look for interesting compositions and take your time to compose your shots thoughtfully.
  4. Capture the motion: To capture the dynamic nature of waterfalls or the swaying bamboo groves, experiment with long exposure techniques. Use a tripod to keep your camera steady and choose a slower shutter speed to create a smooth, silky effect with the flowing water or swaying trees.
  5. Focus on the details: The rainforest is a treasure trove of intricate details, from the delicate ferns to the vibrant flowers. Zoom in and capture the small details that make this ecosystem so unique. Macro lenses or close-up filters can help you capture the intricate textures and patterns of the plants.
  6. Include people for scale: To showcase the scale of the waterfalls or the towering trees, consider including people in your shots. This helps provide a sense of perspective and adds a human element to your photographs.
  7. Be respectful: Ensure that you are mindful of the environment and the wildlife while taking photographs. Stay on the designated trail, do not trample vegetation, and avoid disturbing the wildlife in their natural habitats.

Remember, photography is about capturing the essence and beauty of the moment. Take your time, be patient, and allow yourself to connect with the surroundings. The Manoa Falls Trail offers a wealth of natural splendor, waiting to be captured through your lens.


Nearby Attractions

While the Manoa Falls Trail itself is a captivating destination, there is much more to explore in the surrounding area. From cultural landmarks to stunning beaches, here are some nearby attractions that you can visit after your hike:

  1. Waikiki Beach: Just a short drive from the Manoa Falls Trail, Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous and iconic beaches in Hawaii. Take a dip in the turquoise waters, relax on the pristine sands, or indulge in water sports like surfing and paddleboarding.
  2. Diamond Head State Monument: Located on the eastern edge of Waikiki, Diamond Head is a volcanic crater and a popular hiking spot. Hike to the summit for breathtaking panoramic views of Waikiki and the surrounding coastline.
  3. Honolulu Museum of Art: Immerse yourself in art and culture at the Honolulu Museum of Art. Explore the diverse collection of exhibits, ranging from traditional Hawaiian art to contemporary masterpieces from around the world.
  4. Iolani Palace: Step back in time and visit the only royal palace in the United States. Take a guided tour of the Iolani Palace, which was once the residence of the Hawaiian monarchs, and learn about the history and heritage of Hawaii.
  5. Pearl Harbor National Memorial: Pay tribute to the past at the Pearl Harbor National Memorial, a significant historical site that commemorates the events of December 7, 1941. Visit the USS Arizona Memorial and explore the interactive exhibits that provide insights into the attack on Pearl Harbor.
  6. Hanauma Bay Nature Preserve: Discover the vibrant underwater world of Hawaii at Hanauma Bay, a world-renowned snorkeling destination. Dip into the crystal-clear waters and marvel at the colorful coral reefs and tropical fish that inhabit this marine sanctuary.
  7. Lyon Arboretum: If you have an interest in tropical plants and conservation, a visit to the Lyon Arboretum is a must. Explore the extensive gardens, stroll along the nature trails, and learn about the diverse plant species that call this botanical haven home.
  8. Ala Moana Center: If shopping is on your agenda, head to the Ala Moana Center, one of the largest open-air shopping malls in the world. Browse through an array of high-end boutiques, department stores, and local shops, and indulge in delicious cuisine at the various restaurants.

These attractions offer a variety of experiences and allow you to delve deeper into the cultural, historical, and natural wonders of Oahu. Extend your adventures beyond the Manoa Falls Trail and explore the diverse offerings of this island paradise.



The Manoa Falls Trail on Oahu, Hawaii, is a captivating destination that offers a perfect blend of natural beauty, cultural significance, and outdoor adventure. From the moment you step onto the well-marked trail, you’ll be immersed in a world of lush rainforest, towering waterfalls, and stunning vistas.


As you hike through the enchanting landscape of the Manoa Valley, you’ll experience the magic of the tropical rainforest, encountering unique flora and fauna along the way. The highlight of the trail is undoubtedly the awe-inspiring Manoa Falls, a 150-foot cascade that will leave you speechless.


While hiking the Manoa Falls Trail, it’s important to be mindful of safety and follow responsible hiking practices. Stay on the designated trail, wear appropriate footwear, and be prepared with water, snacks, and sun protection. Respect the environment and the wildlife, leaving no trace of your visit.


After your adventure on the trail, take the opportunity to explore the nearby attractions. From iconic beaches and historic sites to cultural landmarks and shopping destinations, Oahu offers something for everyone.


Whether you’re seeking solitude in nature, eager to capture stunning photographs, or simply wanting to experience the beauty of Hawaii, the Manoa Falls Trail is sure to exceed your expectations. It’s an opportunity to connect with the natural world, immerse yourself in the rich Hawaiian culture, and create memories that will last a lifetime.


So, lace up your hiking boots, pack your camera and sense of adventure, and embark on an unforgettable journey through the Manoa Falls Trail in Oahu, Hawaii. Let the beauty and tranquility of this remarkable destination captivate your senses and awaken your spirit of adventure.