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Best Time to Hike Manoa Falls (and How)

Manoa Falls is one of the best waterfalls to explore when visiting Honolulu as it is a short drive outside of the city.

Quick links

  • Manoa Falls – The tropical waterfalls in Honolulu
  • What to expect along the Manoa Falls Trail

Hawaii is a volcanic landscape shaped by eruptions and volcanic activity over millions of years. Today its landscapes are dramatic (it was the location for jurassic park, finally) and the islands have dozens of dramatic waterfalls cascading over the lush landscapes. On the Hawaiian island of Kauai, you can even take a helicopter tour and land at the famous waterfall that starred in the film Jurassic Park.

Many of Hawaii’s stunning waterfalls are found on a few other islands outside of Oahu. One of the more dramatic waterfalls accessible from the capital Honolulu is Manoa Falls. Visiting Manoa Falls is arguably one of the best things to see and do on Oahu. Just a short drive from Honolulu, Manoa Falls offers a pristine respite from the concrete jungle of Hawaii’s largest city.

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Manoa Falls – The tropical waterfalls in Honolulu

Manoa Falls plunges about 150 feet and is great for Instagram photos. Some of the scenes for the TV show Lost and the movie Jurassic Park were shot right here. The waterfall is hidden in a stunning tropical rainforest. The intense rains and warm water result in a large plant life around the falls.

In fact, the trailhead is only about a 15-minute walk from the bustling city of Honolulu, and it sure is a contrast.

  • Location: Honolulu, Manoa Valley, Oahu
  • Height: 150 feet

While there is a stunning pool below that looks great for a swim, people are discouraged from swimming due to the risk of contracting leptospirosis. It is an illness that causes mild to moderate flu-like symptoms for a week or two.

See also: How to Plan a Historic Trip Through Hawaii’s Pearl Harbor

The Manoa Falls Trail

The hike to and from Manoa Falls takes about an hour (depending on how much mud there is and how fast the hikers are). This part of the island is very wet and it rains most days (so expect rain). The elevation of the trail is about 600 feet over a gradual incline and sometimes rocky and muddy terrain. Still, many would consider this trail more of a “trail” than a “trail.”

  • Length: 1.7 miles (2.7 kilometers) round trip
  • Duration: 60-90 minutes
  • Difficulty: Easy to Medium
  • Open: All the year long
  • Best time: June to November

Note that this trail is very popular and you can expect to see a lot of other people along the way. The trail is open all year round and is great anytime. However, the better travel time is from June to November – outside the rainy season. During this time it rains less and there is less risk of landslides.

The Manoa Falls Trail was closed for nearly two years from 2019-2021 for safety improvements. Thankfully, the trail is now open to the public again.

The vegetation varies from the eucalyptus trees of Australia to the ancient banyan trees and a bamboo grove.

There is metered parking in the Paradise Park lot at the trailhead – or you can park for free in the residential area and walk the route to the trailhead.

Also see: Hike in Hawaii’s KÄ«pukapuaulu, a forest that was once surrounded by lava

What to expect along the Manoa Falls Trail

Hawaii is known for its microclimate, and the Manoa Valley is an example of a microclimate. Although Waikiki (just a few miles away) is dry and sunny, it can drizzle or even rain in the valley. The result is that the waterfall doesn’t get a chance to run dry and there is often the odd rainbow to be seen there.

People should wear closed-toed shoes as the dirt trail is usually damp and muddy. Be prepared to have muddy shoes and maybe muddy legs by the end of the hike.

The ease of hiking the Manoa Falls Trail and the relatively short distance makes it a trail that many families can do with their kids (despite the mud and rain). Hikers are sheltered by the trees for almost the entire route.

About halfway up the trail is a detour that leads through a bamboo grove – don’t miss it! Another attraction along the way is the Lyon Arboretum. Here you can see many of the endangered native Hawaiian plant species.

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