In the lush landscapes of the Manoa Valley in Honolulu, Hawaii, Manoa Falls is a spectacular natural wonder that attracts thousands of visitors each year. This majestic 150-foot waterfall, cascading down a vertical drop into a serene pool below, is the centerpiece of a vibrant tropical rainforest teeming with unique flora and fauna. This article will explore the captivating beauty of Manoa Falls, offering insights into its geological importance, rich biodiversity, and the unforgettable adventure it offers to its visitors.


  • Embark on a picturesque 1.6-mile hike to reach the falls. The trail takes you through a tropical rainforest, offering glimpses of exotic flora and fauna.
  • Movie enthusiasts will be delighted to discover that Manoa Falls served as a filming location for the iconic Jurassic Park.
  • This 1.6-mile hike holds cultural significance as it is believed to be the home of the goddess Hi’aka.
  • The rainforest surrounding Manoa Falls is home to a variety of bird species. Bring your binoculars to spot colorful tropical birds and listen to the soothing sounds of nature.
  • There are several natural pools along the trail where you can cool off and enjoy the refreshing mountain water.
  • The play of light and shadow in this tropical paradise provides endless opportunities for photography enthusiasts.


Manoa Falls waterfall emptying into a tiny pond.
© Shutterstock

Evolution through the 19th Century

For centuries, Manoa Falls served as a sacred haven for Native Hawaiians, who believed the gods resided in the valley. The waterfall, known as Waihii Nui in traditional Hawaiian, held spiritual significance and served as a gateway to the divine realm. As Western settlers developed the Manoa Valley in the 19th century, the waterfall transitioned from a sacred site to a popular tourist destination. The early 20th century saw the creation of a trail leading to the base of the falls, enhancing accessibility for visitors. Despite its transformation, the valley retained remnants of its royal past, with ancient heiau sites and gardens still echoing the footsteps of Hawaiian royalty.

Legends Woven in Nature's Tapestry

Manoa Falls Trail weaves through captivating legends like the Night Marchers. The Night Marchers, also known as the Phantom Marchers, are believed to be the spirits of ancient Hawaiian warriors haunting the Manoa Falls area after dark. Visitors, often unaware, may encounter them signaled by the distant cry of a conch shell and rhythmic drumbeats. The marchers carry torches and wear heavy armor, with a kingly figure leading them. Locals advise lying low, playing dead, and avoiding eye contact to peacefully evade the spirits, who are said to guard the ghosts of Hawaiian royalty or island gods. The Night Marchers leave behind only footprints as they pass, enveloped in the eerie echoes of drums and conch shells. These stories add a layer of mystique to the already enchanting surroundings, captivating the imagination of those who venture along the trail.

At Present

Manoa Falls Trail beckons adventurers to explore its verdant wonders. A 1.6-mile trek through dense foliage, bamboo groves, and babbling streams culminates in the awe-inspiring sight of the 150-foot waterfall. Despite its popularity among tourists, efforts persist to preserve the waterfall’s natural beauty and protect the surrounding ecosystem. If the scenery feels oddly familiar, it’s because Manoa Falls Trail served as a filming location for both the classic “Jurassic Park” and the more recent TV series “Lost.” Wander through the captivating rainforest environment that once graced the silver screen.

The Manoa Falls Trail

Manoa Falls Trail Hike Oahu Hawaii
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Trail Details

Embark on a 2.7km (1.7 miles) round trip, immersing yourself in the lush surroundings of Manoa Falls Trail. The well-defined path provides a sense of freedom as you absorb the breathtaking scenery, making it an ideal choice for a short outdoor escapade. With a manageable incline of 633ft (193 meters), this trail caters to all fitness levels and is particularly family-friendly.

Hiking Trail Location

Situated in the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve, the Manoa Falls trailhead is a convenient 10-15 minute drive from Waikiki. For those relying on public transportation, the public bus conveniently drops you within walking distance of the trail. A dedicated parking lot at the base of Manoa Falls ensures easy access for those with their vehicles.

The Hiking Experience

Hiking through the greenery at Manoa Falls in Honolulu Hawaii
© Shutterstock

The Manoa Falls Trail unfolds as a moderately flat 1.6-mile return hike, demanding about 1-2 hours for the round trip. The well-worn dirt path, occasionally muddy after rain, guides you through a captivating landscape. As you cross a small bridge, the trail opens into a wild expanse where vines drape trees, and the forest embraces its untamed beauty.

The Majestic Manoa Falls

Manoa Falls Trail, Waterfall, Hawaii
© Shutterstock

The climax of the journey is the awe-inspiring 150-foot waterfall cascading down the mountainside. While signs advise against entering the waterfall, the temptation often gets the better of visitors, offering a refreshing natural shower. The hike surprises with a diverse array of flora, from bamboo forests and giant tree trunks to intricate ferns, exceeding expectations of typical tropical landscapes.

Highlights Along the Trail

Forest path on the Manoa Falls Trail on the island of Oahu
© Shutterstock
  • Tree Arch Wonder: A remarkable tree arch forms a natural canopy over the pathway, presenting an exquisite photo opportunity.
  • Seasonal Flow: Standing at an impressive 150 feet, Manoa Falls may not flow consistently throughout the year. In summer, inquire about its current status, while winter guarantees a constant flow during the rainy season.

Traveler’s Note: Although the enchanting view of Manoa Falls is a sight to behold, visitors should note that swimming in the pool at the base is strongly discouraged. The pool appears serene and inviting, but it can contain harmful bacteria, including Leptospirosis. Additionally, falling rocks pose a safety risk. The beauty of the waterfall can be safely enjoyed from the designated viewing area, ensuring a memorable visit while preserving the ecosystem and respecting local regulations.

Manoa Falls Hiking Tours

One of the most popular ways to experience Manoa Falls is through guided hiking tours. These tours typically navigate through the Manoa Valley Rainforest, offering hikers a firsthand opportunity to appreciate the region’s lush greenery, diverse wildlife, and unique geological formations. Throughout the hike, professional guides share insightful knowledge about the ecosystem and cultural history of the area. The trail culminates in the awe-inspiring view of the cascading Manoa Falls. The tour caters to all fitness levels, ensuring a rewarding experience for both novice and seasoned hikers.

Manoa Falls

Hawaiian Beauty Hiking

From USD 74.57

Manoa Falls

Waterfall/Rainforest Hike

From USD 102.62

Manoa Falls

Waterfall Hike Adventure

From USD 60.00


Tips for Visiting

  • Arriving early helps avoid the crowd and gives you ample time to enjoy the natural beauty.
  • The trail can get slippery, especially after rains. Wear sturdy shoes with good grip for a safer and more comfortable hike.
  • Carry enough water and some energy-boosting snacks. The hike, while not strenuous, can be tiring.
  • As you’re in a rainforest, sudden showers are common. Pack a waterproof jacket or poncho.
  • Preserve the natural beauty by not littering and sticking to the marked trails.
  • Don’t forget your camera. The picturesque views are worth capturing.

Nearby Attractions

The Harold L Lyon Arboretum botanical gardens inland of Honolulu, Hawaii.
© Shutterstock

Close to Manoa Falls, visitors will find a variety of attractions that further enrich their Hawaiian adventure. The Manoa Heritage Center is a cultural hub showcasing ancient Hawaiian artifacts and an exquisite native garden. Lyon Arboretum, just a short hike away, is a tropical botanical garden spanning over 200 acres and housing over 5,000 types of tropical and subtropical plants. For those interested in astronomy, the Bishop Museum’s J. Watumull Planetarium offers intriguing insights into Polynesian navigation techniques and celestial lore. Furthermore, food enthusiasts should not miss out on paying a visit to the local Farmer’s market, which offers an array of Hawaiian culinary delights. Each of these attractions provides a unique perspective on Hawaii’s rich cultural and natural heritage, making them must-visit destinations for anyone exploring the area.

Best Time to Visit

Manoa Falls in Oahu, Hawaii
© Shutterstock

The best time to visit Manoa Falls is generally during the dry season, which runs from April to October. During this period, the weather is more predictable, with less rainfall, making the trail easier and safer to navigate. However, the waterfall itself is most impressive following periods of rain, when the water flow is at its peak. Regardless of the season, early morning visits are recommended to avoid crowds and to fully savor the tranquility and beauty of the falls. Please note that timing also depends on personal preferences and weather conditions, and it’s always essential to check local forecasts and advisories before planning a visit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

The duration of the Manoa Falls hike can vary depending on your pace and the trail conditions. On average, the round trip takes about 1.5 to 2 hours. However, it’s recommended to plan for additional time to enjoy the scenic surroundings and the waterfall itself.

The Manoa Falls Trail is considered a relatively easy hike, suitable for all skill levels. The well-maintained path is mostly flat, making it accessible to families and casual hikers. However, it’s important to wear appropriate footwear and be cautious of muddy sections, especially after rainfall.

No, swimming is not allowed in Manoa Falls. Due to safety and environmental reasons, visitors are prohibited from entering the pool at the base of the waterfall. Enjoy the breathtaking view from designated viewing areas while respecting the rules in place for the preservation of this natural beauty.

No, Manoa Falls is not near Diamond Head. Both are popular attractions in Oahu, Hawaii, but they are located in different areas. Manoa Falls is situated in the Manoa Valley, near Honolulu, while Diamond Head is a volcanic crater located near Waikiki, a few miles southeast of downtown Honolulu. Each site offers its own unique hiking experience and scenic views.

The well-maintained path offers a manageable challenge, making it accessible for families and casual hikers.

Admission is free, but utilizing the parking lot near the trailhead incurs a $5 parking charge.

How to Get There

By Car

If you’re driving from downtown Honolulu, take the H-1 East and exit onto University Avenue. Follow University Avenue as it turns into Oahu Avenue, then make a left turn onto Manoa Road. Continue for about 1.5 miles until you reach Paradise Park, where a parking lot is available for a small fee.

By Bus

Public transport is also an option. From the Ala Moana Shopping Center, take bus route 5 headed towards Manoa Valley. This bus will drop you off at the entrance to the Manoa Falls trailhead. Please note that bus schedules may vary, so it’s a good idea to check for the latest bus times in advance.

Witness a Testament to the Enchanting Beauty of Hawaii!

Now, with the allure of Manoa Falls beckoning, it’s time for you to turn inspiration into action. Plan your visit to this captivating destination, where the rhythmic whispers of the waterfall and the lush greenery create an immersive experience like no other.