Manoa Falls

Honolulu / Waikiki, Hawaii, USA

About Manoa Falls

Hiking Distance: 1.6 miles round trip
Suggested Time: 1 hour

Date first visited: 2007-01-18
Date last visited: 2007-01-18

Waterfall Latitude: 21.34202
Waterfall Longitude: -157.79927

Waterfall Safety and Common Sense

Manoa Falls is perhaps O’ahu’s most popular waterfall (especially with the 1999 closure of Sacred Falls).

I think it’s very well known and popular because it’s literally a hop, skip, and a jump from Honolulu or Waikiki.

Manoa_Falls_012_01182007 - Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls

And from what we could tell, this thin 55ft waterfall is one of the island’s more impressive waterfalls.

I’ve seen some claim this waterfall could be even taller at 160ft in height, but maybe there were hidden upper tiers when you sum it all up.

Hiking to Manoa Falls

We experienced this pleasant 1.6-mile round trip hike, which was far enough to keep the casual visitors away while close enough to keep it from becoming an arduous trek amidst mosquitoes and humidity.

Who knew that such a pretty natural attraction could be so close to the urban jungle of Honolulu?

During the mostly flat hike, we walked through a lush rainforest with groves of bamboo sprouting up here and there.

I thought I overheard another tour guide in the area say they were invasive here due to their rapid ability to grow and spread (and hence elbow out and outcompete native species for real estate).

Manoa_Falls_034_01182007 - Sign explaining some of the changes around Manoa Falls
Sign explaining some of the changes around Manoa Falls

In any case, it seemed like the lushness of the trail helped provide some shade, but with the humidity, I’m not sure it made too much difference.

Apparently, Manoa Falls can go dry in Summer or during unusually dry Winters.

We noticed that the plunge pool beneath the falls was once a popular swimming hole.

However, upon further research, we learned that swimming was banned after a landslide at the base of the falls in 2001/2002 as well as the detection of the dangerous leptospirosis bacteria in the stream.


Manoa Falls resides in Honolulu on the island of Oahu, Hawaii. As far as I know, it is not administered by any official authority. For information or inquiries about the general area as well as current conditions, you may want to try visiting the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) website.

Manoa_Falls_001_01182007 - The trailhead
Manoa_Falls_004_01182007 - Hiking in lush jungle
Manoa_Falls_006_01182007 - Going up some stairs flanked by bamboo shoots
Manoa_Falls_040_01182007 - While on this Manoa Falls excursion, we noticed this tiny snail crawling on a porous rock
Manoa_Falls_031_01182007 - Julie checking out Manoa Falls
Manoa_Falls_001_jx_01182007 - Looking up towards the top of the falls
Manoa_Falls_004_jx_01182007 - A perfectly good reason not to go in the water
Manoa_Falls_037_01182007 - There was a trail that kept going beyond the Manoa Falls if you wanted to extend this excursion

From the Honolulu/Waikiki area, travel north on University Avenue beyond the campus of the University of Hawaii at Manoa. To reach University Avenue from the H-1 Freeway, exit onto University Avenue (exit 24B) or Punahou Avenue (exit 23).

North of the campus, University Avenue bends to the right and becomes O’ahu Avenue. From O’ahu Avenue, turn right onto Manoa Road at the five-way intersection. Continue on Manoa Road for about 1.5 miles to the supervised parking lot ($5 fee per vehicle in 2007 when we were there).

The old parking lot further down Manoa Road at the trailhead is now closed to vehicles. We noticed plenty of ominous signs warning of break-ins here as well as broken glass. So we had to walk up to the old parking lot to access the Manoa Falls trailhead. Just before the old parking lot is the Manoa Road turnoff for the University of Hawaii’s Harold L. Lyon Arboretum, which we didn’t visit so we can’t say more about it.

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Tagged with: waikiki, honolulu, hawaii, oahu, waterfall, university, city, bamboo, hike, popular, harold, lynn, arboretum

Visitor Comments:

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“Lost” October 8, 2008 4:28 am by Tammy - Nice, easy, pretty hike to Manoa Falls. Great for taking photos along the way. Falls was roped off due to rockfall danger, but still well worth the hike. Tallest falls I've seen on Oahu. The TV series "Lost" has been filmed along this trail. We came across a TV set, but it was being torn… ...Read More

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Great Sunday Hike March 9, 2009 9:18 pm by Nicole Grant - Went out to Manoa Falls after work yesterday for the first time since I moved to Oahu (3 years ago). This was a great beginner hike, and we completed the trail in about an hour and a half (including stopping and observing birds and plants and running water). It had been pouring rain all day… ...Read More

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Johnny Cheng

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Johnny Cheng is the founder of the World of Waterfalls and author of the award-winning A Guide to New Zealand Waterfalls. Over the last 2 decades, he has visited thousands of waterfalls in over 40 countries around the world and nearly 40 states in the USA.
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