Aloha, intrepid explorers and waterfall enthusiasts! Prepare for a journey of epic proportions, as we dive into the enchanting world of Lulumahu Falls. Tucked away in the lush, emerald-green heart of Oahu, Hawaii, this hidden gem is more than just a cascade of water. It’s a symphony of nature, a testament to the island’s volcanic origins, and a must-visit for those yearning for a little slice of paradise. So, ready to get your feet wet? Let’s plunge right in!


  • Embark on a picturesque journey through the enchanting Hawaiian rainforest as you make your way to Lulumahu Falls.
  • If you crave a more intimate connection with nature, this secluded waterfall is the perfect destination.
  • Uncover the rich history of the area as you pass by the ancient Hawaiian archaeological site located along the trail.
  • At the end of your hike, you’ll be rewarded with the breathtaking sight of Lulumahu Falls cascading into a crystal-clear pool.
  • Capture the beauty of nature in its purest form and create lasting memories of your Hawaiian adventure.


Lulumahu Falls, a hidden gem in the lush embrace of the Koolau Mountains on Oahu, Hawaii, carries a rich history that intertwines both cultural significance and utilitarian development.

The falls held sacred value for the Native Hawaiians, who believed that ancestral spirits found their dwelling amidst the cascading waters. However, as the 1900s dawned, the landscape surrounding the falls underwent a transformation. The fertile land became a focal point for agriculture, and the waters of the stream were redirected to irrigate the burgeoning farms in the vicinity.

The turning point in Lulumahu Falls’ history came in the 1920s when the City of Honolulu took possession of the land. To address the growing need for drinking water in the city, a reservoir was constructed, fed by the stream originating from the falls. This reservoir, a testament to practical resource management, remains operational to this day, visible from the trail leading to the falls.

In the 1950s, a pivotal shift occurred as the area around Lulumahu Falls opened its arms to the public. What was once a sacred sanctuary and an agricultural hub transformed into a beloved destination for hikers and picnickers. Lulumahu Falls stands as a testament to the harmonious coexistence of cultural heritage, practical resource utilization, and the allure of untouched natural beauty. For those seeking respite from the urban clamor of Honolulu, this hidden gem is an invitation to uncover the layers of history and tranquility embedded in its cascading waters and verdant surroundings.

Today, the falls stand as one of Oahu’s most sought-after hiking spots, drawing enthusiasts from all walks of life.

Lulumahu Hiking Experience

One of the absolute crown jewels of Lulumahu Falls is its hiking path. Imagine the thrill of meandering through lush greenery, the chirping of birds serenading your journey, and the anticipation of the breathtaking spectacle that awaits at the end. It’s not just a walk in the park, it’s a grand communion with Mother Nature in all her glory!

Hike Specifications

The hike is approximately 1.5 miles round trip, and typically takes around 90 minutes to complete. In terms of elevation, you’ll be ascending to about 900 feet. The terrain is a diverse mix of jungle, stream, rocks, and mud, providing a challenging yet rewarding journey. Be prepared for a bit of mud, and remember to wear suitable footwear.

Difficulty Levels and Recommended Skill Levels

Lulumahu Falls is considered a moderate hike with rough, sometimes muddy terrain. It’s suitable for hikers of intermediate skill levels, though adventurous beginners might also find it rewarding. Prior hiking experience and a reasonable level of fitness are beneficial due to the occasional steep and slippery sections.

How to Get to the Waterfall

Hawaii Tree Forest Covering Nuuanu Pali Drive
© Shutterstock

Getting to Lulumahu Falls is a straightforward drive from downtown Honolulu. Head towards the Pali Highway (Hwy 61) and after passing through the Nu’uanu Pali Tunnels, make a left turn onto the Old Pali Road. Continue until you reach the trailhead parking area,y. From here, it’s a brief walk to the starting point of the Lulumahu Falls Trail.

As you traverse the winding paths of the Lulumahu trail, you’ll eventually encounter a narrowing of the trail leading to a staircase. Here, an intriguing path branches off to the left, inviting the curious hiker to a set of mysterious stone steps. As you navigate the ancient stone steps, they guide you to a historic reservoir, a testament to the island’s past. As you leave the reservoir behind, a dirt trail awaits, leading you onwards and upwards.

Once past the serene silence of the forest, you will encounter a graffitied wall, a striking contrast to the natural surroundings. The wall, though an unexpected sight, has become a landmark of sorts, guiding hikers along their journey.

A 15-minute hike upstream from the graffitied wall will finally bring you to the foot of the magnificent Lulumahu Falls. Maneuvering through the stream can be a bit challenging, owing to the slippery rocks, so tread carefully. As you hike, the sound of the waterfall grows louder, leading you further into this natural wonderland.

Hiking path to Lulumahu Falls
© Shutterstock

As the trail reaches its culmination, it brings you to a section of the antiquated water supply system. Here, a convergence of nature’s marvels unfolds. The stream, a constant companion throughout your journey, now merges with the structure, creating a spectacular 50-foot waterfall that cascades into a serene pool. The sight of water tumbling from such a height into the inviting pool below offers a stunning spectacle that marks the perfect end to a thrilling trek.

Pro-Tip: Keep your eyes peeled for ribbons tied to trees, placed by fellow hikers. These markers serve as subtle guides, indicating which side of the river offers the easiest passage and leading you steadily toward your destination. Beware of ribbons that veer high into the hillside, as they could potentially lead you astray. Instead, aim to stay closer to the stream, as it serves as the most direct and safest route to the magnificent Lulumahu Falls.

The Glory that is Lulumahu Falls

Lulumahu falls on Oahu
© Shutterstock

At the culmination of your hike, the stunning Lulumahu Falls presents itself in all its glory. Located in a narrow canyon, this majestic waterfall plunges over 50 feet, creating a truly awe-inspiring spectacle. The walls of the canyon, draped in lush vines, further amplify the waterfall’s mystical charm.

As if painting a scene from a fairy tale, narrow beams of sunlight pierce through the canopy above, casting a soft luminescence on the misty waterfall, making the whole scene ethereal.

Despite its endless supply of water cascading down the cliff, Lulumahu Falls leaves only a small pool of water behind. This is one of the falls’ intriguing features; its waters pour from the heights with profound force, yet the pool at its base remains relatively shallow. The sight of Lulumahu Falls, with its cascading waters and immersive natural surroundings, is a testament to the unspoiled beauty that the island of Oahu has to offer.

Lulumahu Falls
© Shutterstock

Photo Alert: The best time to photograph Lulumahu Falls is early in the morning or late in the afternoon, as these periods offer soft, diffused light that illuminates the falls and surrounding landscape. Capturing the beauty of the falls and surrounding scenery can be done using a wide-angle lens, a tripod, and different perspectives. Instagram-worthy spots include the bamboo forest and old reservoir, with towering bamboo stalks and moss-covered ruins.

Safety Precautions 

During the Hike

Particularly in the case of Lulumahu Falls, adverse weather conditions can rapidly transform the serene stream into a perilous, rushing river. Therefore, it is strongly advised not to undertake this hike during periods of rain or heavy rainfall. The trails can become slick and treacherous, and the river’s current may increase in intensity, making it hazardous to travel through or alongside. Be sure to check the weather forecast in advance of your hike and plan your adventure on a clear, dry day to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience.

Upon Reaching the Waterfalls

While the allure of the falls may tempt some to explore further, it’s crucial to exercise caution and respect the boundaries set by nature. Scaling the walls or attempting to climb to the top of the falls is not only dangerous but could result in serious injury or other unfavorable consequences. The surrounding moss-covered rocks are slippery and unstable, making any such venture extremely risky. Always prioritize safety and adhere to the established trails to enjoy the beauty of Lulumahu Falls without compromising your well-being. Remember, the goal of your adventure is not just to reach the destination, but also to return safely.

Essential Gear

Essential gear includes sturdy, waterproof hiking boots, water, snacks, a map or guidebook, and a first-aid kit. Be sure to bring a rain jacket or poncho, as the weather in the area can change quickly.

Responsible Behavior Toward the Ecosystem

As visitors, it’s imperative to respect and protect the environment. Practice ‘leave no trace’ principles, which include staying on the trail to prevent erosion, disposing of waste properly, and not disturbing the plants and wildlife. Avoid feeding any animals you might encounter, as this can disrupt their natural behaviors and diet. Lastly, remember to respect the sacred and cultural sites scattered along the trail, as these are integral to the history and identity of the region.

Nearby Attractions

Nu'uanu Pali is a section of the windward cliff of the Ko?olau mountain located at the head of Nu'uanu Valley on the island of Oahu. It has a panoramic view of the windward coast of Oahu
© Shutterstock

While Lulumahu Falls is a captivating destination in its own right, the surrounding area is equally rich in attractions that shouldn’t be missed. After a rewarding hike to the falls, you can visit The Nuʻuanu Pali Lookout, a stunning viewpoint offering panoramic views of Oʻahu’s lush windward coast.

Just a short drive away is For history and culture enthusiasts, another place of interest near Lulumahu Falls is the Queen Emma Summer Palace. This museum, managed by the Daughters of Hawaiʻi, showcases a splendid collection of the royal family’s artifacts, furnishings, and personal memorabilia. Nature lovers might enjoy heading over to Foster Botanical Garden, a living museum of tropical plants, some of which are rare and endangered. And of course, the vibrant city of Honolulu is not far away, offering a wide range of cultural and culinary delights. Each of these attractions adds a unique layer to the richness of your Hawaiian adventure.

Accommodation and Camping Options

For those who wish to extend their stay in the area, there are several comfortable lodging and camping options close to Lulumahu Falls. Several hotels and guest houses provide amenities ranging from basic to luxurious, catering to a variety of budget preferences. Options like the Manoa Valley Inn, Paradise Bay Resort, and the Royal Grove Waikiki offer stunning views and comfortable accommodations.

For outdoor enthusiasts who appreciate beachfront camping, the Waimanalo Bay Beach Park Campground offers an unforgettable experience. Campers can enjoy the pristine white sandy beach, clear blue waters, and the backdrop of lush green mountains. For those seeking a more rustic experience, the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden offers camping options, where visitors can immerse themselves in the natural beauty of the region. You can set up a tent amidst the lush greenery, making it an ideal spot for nature lovers. Do remember to check in advance for any permits or regulations related to overnight stays in the park.

Tips for Visiting

  • Arrive Early: The trail can get quite busy, so it’s best to start early in the day to avoid crowds and enjoy a peaceful hike.
  • Dress Appropriately: The trail can be muddy and slippery, so sturdy, waterproof footwear is a must. Dressing in layers is recommended, as temperatures can fluctuate.
  • Stay Hydrated: Remember to carry enough water for the hike, as there are no water facilities along the trail.
  • Respect the Environment: Stick to the marked trails and avoid disturbing the plant and animal life. Ensure to pack out all trash to help preserve the beauty of the area.
  • Be Prepared for Rain: The weather can change rapidly, so carry a rain jacket or poncho.
  • Take Your Time: The trail, while shorter, offers a variety of sights to enjoy, so don’t rush. Take time to appreciate the scenic beauty, the sounds of nature, and the mystical ruins.
  • Enjoy Responsibly: As always, remember that safety is paramount. Stay on the trail, heed any posted signs, and be aware of your surroundings.

Best Time to Visit

Lulumahu Falls is a year-round destination, but the best time to visit is during the dry season, from May to October. During these months, the weather is mostly clear and the trail is less muddy, making the hike more manageable and enjoyable. It’s also recommended to start the hike early in the morning when the trail is less crowded and the light filtering through the forest is particularly enchanting.

Frequently Asked Questions

Yes, Lulumahu Falls is open to the public, but hikers are advised to respect the land as it is considered sacred by the local community.

Yes, a permit is required to hike to Lulumahu Falls. It can be obtained at the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife office.

There are no facilities near Lulumahu Falls, so it’s advised to bring necessary items like water, snacks, and the right footwear for the hike.

The tiny pool at the foot of the falls is the ideal place to take a quick dip to get away from the hot, muggy weather within the forest.

While the hike to Lulumahu Falls is not illegal, it’s important to note that the trail crosses private land. Therefore, proper respect and adherence to the rules, including obtaining a permit, is vital. Always make sure to leave no trace and do not trespass on areas marked as private property.

The Honolulu Board of Water Supply owns the private government land where this route is situated.

How to Get There

By Car

From Honolulu, take the H1 Freeway west towards ‘Aiea. Then take exit 21A to merge onto the Pali Highway (HI-61) in the direction of Kailua. Continue on Pali Highway until you see the junction with the Nu’uanu Pali Drive. Make a right onto Nu’uanu Pali Drive. Continue driving for a few minutes until you see the parking area for the Lulumahu Falls trailhead on your right.

By Bus

If you don’t have access to a car, getting to the trailhead is still possible via public transit. From Ala Moana Center, take bus number 13 towards Liliha – via Waikiki – Tantalus. Get off at Vineyard Blvd + Nuuanu Ave. Then, transfer to bus number 4 (Nuuanu – Dowsett) and get off at Nuuanu Pali Dr + Puiwa Rd. From there, it is a short walk to the trailhead. Please note that bus schedules may vary, so plan accordingly.

Embark on the Lulumahu Falls Journey Today!

From the first step on the trail to the final awe-inspiring view of the waterfall, every moment is imbued with discovery and admiration for this Hawaiian jewel. Each element weaves together to create a memorable adventure. Whether you’re a seasoned hiker or a first-timer seeking a day amidst nature, Lulumahu Falls promises an enriching journey that echoes long after the hike is completed.