Home Destinations 13 Things to Know Before Hiking to Manoa Falls, Oahu
Manoa Falls Jurassic Park woman back

13 Things to Know Before Hiking to Manoa Falls, Oahu

by Family Globetrotters

No Trip to Oahu Would Be Complete With At Least One Hike. But as Always, Its Best to Be Prepared and Hence Here Are Things You Need to Know Before Hiking to Manoa Falls.

Apart from its pristine beaches and gorgeous coastline, Oahu is very well known for its hiking trails. From easy hikes to extreme trekking, there is a trail to suit everyone’s hiking capabilities. Although Hannah is not a big fan of hiking, she knew she wouldn’t get away with at least one small trek. So, we decided to check out the 150ft Manoa Falls. As always, we inevitably came back with some tips and things we wish we knew before heading out on our adventure.


Getting to Manoa Falls by Bus

Take the #5 Manoa Route Bus from the Ala Moana Shopping Center to the last bus stop up Manoa Road. When you get off the bus, head towards the mountains and you’ll see the start of the trail.

The regularity of the bus is every half hour before 8am and then approximately every hour after that. So, it is important to make sure you’re there ahead of time, so you don’t miss it.

Getting to Manoa Falls by Taxi/Uber

This was how we decided to go to Manoa Falls. It was about 20 minutes each from Waikiki and was by far the easiest option for us.

Getting to Manoa Falls by Car

It’s easy to find your way to Manoa Falls by car, regardless of which direction you’re coming from. If you’re in Waikiki, take H-1 West towards the Airport and take the Punahoe Exit. There is unattended parking at the base of the falls for USD$5.00. Hikers have known to park in the nearby residential areas to avoid the fee in exchange for an extra quarter of a mile walk.

We got there around 12.30pm and there were no parking spots left. But we left around 03.30pm, there was quite a few so perhaps go very early or wait until later in the afternoon.


This trail is open from sun-up to sun-down.

But before embarking on the hike, check that the trail is even open. Just recently it was closed for rock fall mitigation whilst another time, it was closed due a mudslide.

Looking for a family friendly hike when in Oahu? Manoa Falls is your best bet. Here are all the essential things you need to know! #oahuhiking #familytravel #hikingwithkids Click To Tweet


Entry to the hiking trail is free.


We went in the height of summer at noon, which is the hottest time of the day. The entire hike was pretty much sheltered from the scorching sun so from that perspective, it was fine.

The heat and humidity are of course still on the high, but I thought it was quite cool seeing the large trees blocked the sun. As with anything, hiking earlier in the day is the coolest time if heat is an issue for you.

From the perspective of crowds, I am of the understanding that when I went it was not busy, despite seeing people on the trail the whole time. It was by no means crowded and we didn’t have to stop because there was a hold up.

Manoa Falls Forest Father and daughter


At the base of Manoa Falls you’ll find the Rainbow Ends snack shop. It will meet your basic needs for snacks and water. Shaved ice is also available.


The old Paradise Park building is open with access to public restrooms.

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The length (one way) is approximately 0.8 mi / 1.29 km whilst the elevation change is 800 ft / 243.84 m. It is therefore a great hike for beginners and families with small children. It takes about 45 minutes each way if you do it slowly and steadily. Experience hikers can get this done in 25-30 minutes easily.

The start of the trail is flat and narrow as you follow the trail that leads to into an expansive lush forest. Now I know why some of the scenes of Jurassic Park was filmed here! I could just image that Triceratops charging through the thick forest. You’ll be taking some happy snaps in this space and rightly so!

The trail then starts to ascend without too much difficulty. The last 25% of the hike however got very slippery, narrow and a little steeper. The steepness and the lack of grip made it very hard on the calves and knees on the descend. A walking stick may be helpful if you feel you need support.

Otherwise its by no means a difficult hike. I saw kids as young as 2-3 running up and down the trail!

Manoa Falls Hike Mother Daughter


Due to the high rainfall in Oahu, the trail is slippery more often then it is not. Therefore, shoes with grip will be essential especially if you have weak knees like me. We had our hiking shoes on and even then, we slipped a few times here and there.

In saying that however, it is possible to hike without them if you don’t have any or have forgotten them. Plenty of hikers in basic runners and some people were even in flip flops or were bare feet. I don’t recommend flip flops at all as one went slipping and sliding all over the place! Nor would I recommend not wearing shoes either as part of the trail is filled with gravel and lined with plastic planks.


Simple answer, yes! Hannah was bitten despite having applied thoroughly.


There is no need to dress for all day hiking. Everyday summer wear is fine. Some people were hiking in their bikinis as they came straight off the beach! I don’t recommend that though! I wore my long active wear pants, which definitely helped with the mosquito situation.

Don’t need sun hat or sunglasses as the whole trail is pretty much undercover due to the massive trees blocking the scorching sun.

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Absolutely! We had them all! Mirrorless, DLSR and our iPhones. It is so picturesque on the trail. Definitely many photo-taking moments.


Swimming in the pool below the waterfall is highly discouraged and prohibited because there is a threat of becoming infected with Leptospirosis. In saying that however there were people swimming in the pool below despite the area being roped off. However, there was no one to police it.

The water there is stagnant and prone to a collection of all sorts of bacterial diseases so please don’t swim in it. The other reason you shouldn’t swim there is that the area is prone to falling rocks. The only pool under a waterfall you can swim in is at Waimea Falls.

Manoa Falls girl rocks crowd


The winter sees the heaviest rainfall in Oahu. This then lends itself to a cascading waterfall. We went in the driest of all months and the waterfalls was reduce to a thin trickle. Still beautiful and worth the hike.

Manoa Falls man sitting on rock

And there you go! You’re all ready for your hike to these lovely waterfalls. Was it worth it? Yes! Was it family friendly? Totally! Have a great time hiking up Manoa Falls!


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Oceanfront Resort: Outrigger Waikiki Beach
Located directly on Waikiki Beach, this is one of Oahu’s favourite resort. It also features ocean front restaurants and pool which puts you and your family right in the midst of all the Waikiki action. Free child-friendly Hawaiian cultural activities are offered daily and may include fresh flower lei-making or ukulele lessons. Should you be renting a car the hotel offers valet parking whilst they can also arrange for your airport transfers. The Outrigger Waikiki Beach has so much to offer, you may not even need to leave but with so many things to do in Oahu with kids, we certainly hope you’ll explore the island!
Book Now Pay Later – Check Prices Here

Resort in the North Shore: Turtle Bay Resort
If you’re thinking of staying away from the hustle and bustle of Waikiki, you might like to consider staying in the North Shore. The Turtle Bay Resort is a world class golf resort suitable for families and is only a 5-minute walk from the beach. All their rooms offer ocean views and they have rooms with 2 queen beds so perfect for families of four. Guests are also privy to the resort’s private beach area which is perfect for those wanting a quieter space for the kids. They have a wellness center, access to a plethora of activities for kids including horse riding, wind surfing and fishing as well as ample parking for those renting a car. If you have enough time you might even want to split your holiday between the north and the south.
Book Now Pay Later – Check Prices Here

Apartment – Ilikai Condo Rental
Family Globetrotters recently stayed at the Ilikai and loved it! We stayed on the 19th floor and had beautiful views of the marina with the lagoon and Waikiki beach to the left. Waikiki Beach is only a couple of minutes’ walk from the apartment and literally half the price of the central beach front hotels on Waikiki. It is also close to the lagoon for those who have babies. Located next to the Hilton, we could see the Friday night fireworks whilst it is also of close proximity to the Ala Moana Shopping Centre. We always prefer to stay in apartments with a fully equipped kitchen and a lounge space for the family. The balcony is a good size from which we had breakfast every day.
Book Now Pay Later – Check Prices Here

Mid-Priced Hotel – Pagoda Hotel
Finding cheap accommodation in Honolulu is not an easy task. The Pagoda Hotel in downtown Honolulu is a 2-star property and does not have beach front. It is however comfortable and accessible Oahu’s premiere shopping and local dining district. The hotel offers rooms with 2 double beds so a good option for families without having to pay for a second room. They also have a renovated pool & sun deck for lounging.
Book Now Pay Later – Check Prices Here



13 Things To Know Before Hiking To Manoa Falls

Disclaimer: The Family Globetrotter’s website contains affiliate links which help us to maintain this blog and assists us with our travels, at no extra cost to you. Family Globetrotters have also posted articles based on sponsored products and/or services, but all opinions are our own, truthful and unbiased.


fleetconcepts.com February 15, 2020 - 1:34 pm

Amazing, keep it coming.

Alina Barack August 6, 2019 - 8:51 pm

This is a very informative post with the gorgeous clicks and I love nature and hiking both. I am glad that I stumble upon this post I will surely plan a trip here with my friends or family.

Paul January 6, 2019 - 5:53 am

We love a good hike and this one looks so beautiful. Great to have all the information you need in one spot, thanks for sharing.

Family Globetrotters January 7, 2019 - 9:32 am

You welcome Paul! Hope it’ll come in handy should you ever need it one day.

Anna | theRunaway January 6, 2019 - 4:46 am

What a great and detailed guide. That’s very useful that you wrote this post as the answer to the most common questions one could ask about the place. I love hiking and Manoa Falls look like a great spot for photographers too 🙂

Family Globetrotters January 7, 2019 - 9:31 am

Thank you and yeah, it makes for some great photo taking. It is so abundant and lush!

anisha January 4, 2019 - 7:11 pm

I love hiking. Glad to know that the entry is free. Also, this is a very informative post where I found everything I needed to know in one place. Great tips especially taking insect repellant as I get bit by them so easily and I always forget to keep them with me 😉

Family Globetrotters January 5, 2019 - 1:35 pm

We are so prone to insect bites that insect repellent is the first thing I always pack. You can buy the patches too and just keep it in your bag wherever you go. Less cumbersome than carrying the whole bottle.

Marcia January 3, 2019 - 11:43 pm

Wow. Finally a hike that even I can do with my bad knees. I always worry about slippery descents, like you described so I will take your tips in mind. I’ve only visited Maui but this looks like a great option and the scenery sounds breathtaking!

Family Globetrotters January 5, 2019 - 1:34 pm

I worry about slipping down too. I have been known to just get on my bum sometimes and slide down because I worry that I would fall. But yes, this is a good gentle one and worth the hike!

Katie January 3, 2019 - 9:48 pm

Great info here! Hiking is one of my favourite activities so will definitely consider this if I’m at lucky enough to travel to this beautiful island!

Family Globetrotters January 5, 2019 - 1:23 pm

Thanks! It was a fun hike and we’d do it again:)

Zenja | Bearly Here January 3, 2019 - 2:27 pm

Thank you for sharing! It looks like there is quite a lot of people at the waterfalls, or at least at the same spot. You write that you didn’t have to stop during the hike and it wasn’t crowded, but how did you feel at the waterfalls? Beautiful photos, btw!

Laurence January 3, 2019 - 12:35 pm

These are really good tips for hiking! I always make sure have an insect repellent. Good thing there’s no entry fee and you can enjoy the hike all day. But not sure if I can do it though ahha.

Taryn January 3, 2019 - 5:48 am

I would love to go hiking in Oahu. It’s one gorgeous place, this being no exception. These are great things to know before going. Now I have another place to add to my trip wish list!

Family Globetrotters January 3, 2019 - 4:59 pm

Oahu has some of the most beautiful hikes in the world! Manoa Falls is a gentle one to get your hiking mojo on:)

Mel January 3, 2019 - 4:11 am

This looks beautiful – Hawaii has been high on the bucket list for a while. Thanks for such an informative post!

Family Globetrotters January 3, 2019 - 4:58 pm

You’re welcome and I hope you make it there one day!

Anna Schaeffer January 3, 2019 - 3:23 am

These are my FAVORITE types of posts – that answer every single question you could possible have! Soooo informative. Great post!

Family Globetrotters January 3, 2019 - 4:53 pm

Hahah! Thanks Anna! Glad you found it informative:)

Izzy January 3, 2019 - 1:54 am

Very informative post! Wish I could go some day, but it’s literally the other side of the world. I’ve done some hiking in England, and experienced the difference between hiking in regular shoes and hiking shoes, and hiking shoes were so much better! I have weak knees too, and there were areas I never would have managed in regular shoes, maybe on all fours, which I sometimes resort to. 😀

Family Globetrotters January 3, 2019 - 4:53 pm

I’ve done the bum shuffle down too if I had to when it was too steep or too slippery! For me, hiking shoes is a no brainer and I always have them on when I hike, even if its a beginner trail. Can’t be too careful I guess!

Elizabeth January 2, 2019 - 11:26 pm

I hiked Manoa Falls a couple of times when I did a summer semester at the University of Hawaii Manoa and I’m finally taking my kids back to Oahu this summer so I can’t wait to take them! Bummed to hear it’s roped off from swimming though- we swam in it and I don’t recall it being roped off (I’m not a person to disobey so I never would have gone in if there were ropes!).

Family Globetrotters January 3, 2019 - 4:49 pm

How exciting that you’re taking your kids! Well, apart from the bacteria in the water, they have been having issues with falling boulders around the water area so that’s part of the precaution too. If you want to swim head to Waimea Falls instead?

Mario January 2, 2019 - 11:14 pm

Hawaii has been on my bucket list for quite a while… always adding spots to see to my Google maps.
I’m adding the hike to the Manoa Falls to my itinerary as this looks like a quite rewarding and relaxing hike

Family Globetrotters January 3, 2019 - 4:47 pm

Definitely a must do destination and it has something for everyone. Manoa Falls was a nice hike and glad it made it to your list!

Jackie December 21, 2018 - 12:54 pm

I hope to visit Hawaii (it’s on my bucket list!) and would love to hike to Manoa Falls. It looks like a great beginner hike with a spectacular reward at its end. You can bet I’d have my camera ready! I especially appreciate your suggestions of where to stay for various price-points and needs. This will come in very handy. I love the sound of Turtle Bay Resort, removed from the crowds with views of the ocean. Perfect for me!

Family Globetrotters December 27, 2018 - 10:47 am

Hope you get to Hawaii some time soon too! Such a wonderful place to visit and so many things to do across all the islands. The North Shore is beautiful and although not as busy as Waikiki, it does still get busy, especially in the winter during their massive surf season. But Turtle Bay Resort is enclosed so you’d get the peace and quiet you crave.

Juliette December 21, 2018 - 12:08 pm

What a great hike to do! It looks like it’s not too difficult and ideal for families. Which is probably just as well in the heat! A shame the water though isn’t swimmable though. I’d definitely plan to go first thing in the morning for this hike, before it gets too hot. The landscape looks stunning!

Family Globetrotters December 27, 2018 - 10:45 am

We went in the middle of the day and it was much cooler as it was covered in shade. But it was still very hot and humid once you acclimatize and then hiking. We should have gone first thing in the morning but just couldn’t get our act together!

Blair villanueva December 19, 2018 - 10:17 pm

Hiking is also a cool weekend activity especially for kids. This could help them to appreciate more the nature. How many falls have you visited in your overall travel experience?

Family Globetrotters December 21, 2018 - 10:20 am

Oh gosh I have no idea how many waterfalls I have seen in my lifetime. I have however never seen the really big and famous waterfalls like Niagara or Victoria. Those are truly high on my bucket list to see one day! What about you? Do you like waterfalls?

courtney hopkins December 18, 2018 - 2:24 pm

This looks like an absolutely gorgeous hike! I especially loved the waterfall. I do think its a little crazy there were people swimming in the pool, despite the risk of becoming infected with Leptospirosis.

Family Globetrotters December 19, 2018 - 9:30 am

I know, those people were crazy! When we went the waterfall was at a low level as it hadn’t rained for some time. Apparently after rain, the waterfall gushes!

Annick December 18, 2018 - 1:51 pm

Manoa Falls looks like a beautiful family friendly hike. Many must agree because your photos show it is crowded! Good reminders about shoes with good tread. I can’t believe people were swimming in the bacteria laden water! Sure it looks pretty but I’m not willing to risk an infection. Good that it’s easy to get to so I’m adding it to my Oahu to do list.

Family Globetrotters December 18, 2018 - 2:17 pm

Yeah, those people swimming in that water are so irresponsible. And there is a big sign that says no swimming and long ropes to stop people from walking trampling over the boulders. People like make me furious and people wonder why they hate tourists!

Lisa December 18, 2018 - 5:50 am

How beautiful is this hike, and area in general! I’m a newbie when it comes to hiking, so this sounds like a good one for me to try. I always get bit too, so thanks for the tip on taking insect repellent. Starting early would be a must for me, as I suffer in the humidity! Good to know the hike trail is free – the best things in life are!

Family Globetrotters December 18, 2018 - 2:13 pm

Manoa Falls is perfect for a beginner hiker. Good combination of an easier walking trail that’s not too long. And to have something to look forward to in the end of the of the hike is always a great incentive. We’re not great hikers either so these type of trails are perfect for us.


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