Maunawili Falls

near Pali Lookout (Oahu Island), Hawaii, USA

Rating: 1.5     Difficulty: 3
Maunawili Falls
Maunawili Falls is a small but picturesque and popular 15-30ft. We figure it's popular because it's publicly accessible and because it has a nice swimming hole that's deep enough even for some daredevils to do a dangerous cliff dive into the pool.

But its popularity belies the fact that we did have to do a bit of a hike involving several stream crossings and one head-scratching moment at the last stream crossing. And fortunately for us, there were enough people on the trail that we were able to get around some of the confusing parts just by following some locals who knew where they were going.

The hike started in a residential area in the town of Maunawili. From there, we hiked about two miles to the falls crossing over four streams en route. We were wearing Keens so the stream crossings weren't really a problem (though we were mindful that open cuts and wounds did have the potential for introducing the leptospirosis bacteria; good thing we didn't have any on this excursion).

We want to point out a couple of key points in the otherwise straightforward hike.

At about a half-mile beyond the third stream crossing, the trail climbed up some steps eventually reaching a bench at an unsigned fork in the trail. We had to turn left at this fork to descend the short (maybe about 100ft) steep series of steps back down to the Maunawili Stream.

There was actually another unnamed stream joining the main stream, and it was here that we had to make the fourth and longest stream crossing. Here, we made the mistake of taking the faint trail on the right and eventually ended up in a muddy bog. When we figured out that we should've crossed the stream and head towards the right bank (left fork), that was when we started to pick up the last 0.1-mile of the trail to its end at the Maunawili Falls.

All told, it took us about an hour of hiking in each direction.

Upon doing some post-trip reading, I learned that "Maunawili" means "twisted mountain." I'm only speculating here, but perhaps it's because the falls was mostly hidden as it twisted and tumbled its way down a rocky slope before making its final drop, which was the lone visible drop from what we could tell. There were also scenic fluted cliffs (part of the Ko'olau Range) providing a good scenic backdrop for photographs when we reached the apex of the hike, but I'm not sure if the twisted mountain had anything to do with these pali (cliffs).

Directions: From the Honolulu/Waikiki area, head west on the H-1 Freeway to the Pali Highway (Hwy 61). Take the Pali Highway north. Go beyond Pali Lookout and through the Pali Tunnels to the second A'uloa Road intersection/exit.

Once off the highway, keep left at the fork to get onto the Maunawili Road. Then, follow the road for about 1.5 miles south into a residential area. Once Maunawili Road junctions with Kelewina Street, that's where you can start looking for street parking beyond all the "No Parking" signs (please tread lightly as you're now surrounded by private residences).




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PHOTO JOURNAL
Some daredevil made a big splash after jumping off a cliff into the deep pool
In case you're wondering why I'm using the Pali Lookout as a landmark for this excursion, here's why.  It's practically mandatory that you stop here when in Oahu
Further east of Maunawili, we found the attractive Byodo-in Temple, which was definitely a peaceful and worthwhile stop
Another worthwhile stop further south of Byodo-in Temple and off the east side of Diamond Head was the Halona Blowhole
We made a brief stop at the Pali Lookout before proceeding to look for the fallsWe made a brief stop at the Pali Lookout before proceeding to look for the falls

Scenery around the residential area at the start of the trailScenery around the residential area at the start of the trail

The trail is behind that gateThe trail is behind that gate

The trail left the pavement hereThe trail left the pavement here

Julie crossing one of the streamsJulie crossing one of the streams

Julie climbing up some steps after the third stream crossingJulie climbing up some steps after the third stream crossing

Trail providing a view of the Ko'olau Range and some of its fluted cliffsTrail providing a view of the Ko'olau Range and some of its fluted cliffs

We turned left at this unsigned forkWe turned left at this unsigned fork (one "key" spot in the hike we noted earlier)

We finally made it to Maunawili FallsWe finally made it to Maunawili Falls


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VIDEOS OF THE FALLS



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MAP OF THE FALLS

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TRIP REPORTS
For more information about our experiences with this waterfall, check out the following travel stories.




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TRIP PLANNING RESOURCES




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NEARBY WATERFALLS


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Very fun hike and a great swimming hole to cliff jump into! 
Very easy and enjoyable hike to and from the waterfall at the end. Be advised it is extremely dangerous hike if it has rained the same day. I've been a …

A very long walk from the main highway. (Maunawili Falls) 
I constantly see people hiking/walking into Maunawili from the main highway(Pali Highway). This is a really long walk before you even get close to the …

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