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14 Epic Hikes to Waterfalls in Oahu

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Epic hikes to waterfalls in Oahu, by travel blogger What The Fab

One of the best ways to experience Hawaii’s natural beauty is by exploring outside, so save a spot on your travel itinerary for one of these epic hikes to waterfalls in Oahu. 

Who doesn’t love waterfalls? Something about the sights and sounds of water cascading over rocks and lush foliage is mesmerizing and calming—plus, waterfalls make the perfect backdrops for Insta photos.

If you’re planning a trip to Oahu, book the top activities below through GetYourGuide

If you’re a hiking fan, you know that tackling new trails while enjoying endless waterfall views makes for a fantastic experience. Some Hawaii waterfalls even have pools deep enough for a refreshing post-hike dip. 

There’s no shortage of hikes to waterfalls in Oahu that range from leisurely strolls to challenging adventures, and these 14 trails guarantee an unforgettable experience.

Click the images below to shop for all the essentials to tackle these hikes to waterfalls in Oahu

14 Epic Hikes to Waterfalls in Oahu

Epic hikes to waterfalls in Oahu, by travel blogger What The Fab
Image via @rebeckakarlssons

1. Waimano Falls

For those wanting a hike off the beaten path and requiring a keen sense of adventure, the Waimano Falls trail is one of the best hikes Oahu, Hawaii has to offer.

This hike is steep, and the terrain can be muddy, but once you see the spectacularly beautiful falls at the end of this two-hour, out-and-back trail, you’ll be so happy you pushed through.

Anyone with moderate fitness and balance will find the 650 feet of elevation gain the perfect challenge—just make sure to wear proper hiking boots

As you reach the final section of the hike, ropes will be available to help you over tricky spots. It’s important to stay safe and mindful of your surroundings and don’t be afraid to take breaks as needed.

Once you reach the falls, you can swim and enjoy stunning views of Waimano Pond, surrounded by lush jungle, making the entire effort worthwhile.

Remember to pack your swimsuit and sunscreen!

Epic hikes to waterfalls in Oahu, by travel blogger What The Fab

2. Manoa Falls Trail

For an easy hike with stunning views that won’t take more than a few hours to enjoy, look no further than Manoa Falls Trail.

You can reach the breathtaking 150-foot Manoa Falls after about 60 to 90 minutes of walking roundtrip, and you’ll also be rewarded with picturesque views of Manoa Valley.

Manoa Falls is an excellent option for the whole family since the path is easy to follow, and the waterfall is pretty as a postcard.

Although swimming isn’t allowed due to the risks of Leptospirosis (a flu-like disease), simply hiking to the falls and taking in the sights is a fantastic experience.

If the falls look strangely familiar, you may recognize them from movies and TV shows like Jurassic Park and Lost!

Ensure you get to the trailhead early, as Manoa Falls is one of the more popular Oahu waterfall hikes.

Epic hikes to waterfalls in Oahu, by travel blogger What The Fab
Image via @nowgoseeit

3. ‘Aihualama Falls Trail

‘Aihualama Falls Trail connects to the path for Manoa Falls, making it an easy addition for a more challenging hike. 

‘Aihualama Falls can be difficult to follow since the trail is an unmarked path, but the advantage is there will be far fewer crowds.

Taking this lowkey trail will allow you to fully experience Hawaii’s beauty in peace without battling hoards of tourists. 

After about 0.6 miles of hiking, you’ll reach ‘Aihualama Falls, a hidden gem that feels like a true tropical oasis.

Epic hikes to waterfalls in Oahu, by travel blogger What The Fab
Image via @ayylain

4. Likeke Falls Trail

One of the top can’t-miss hikes to waterfalls in Oahu is the breathtaking Likeke Falls Trail, sometimes called Old Pali Highway Falls. 

This hike is perfect for adventurers who are short on time or want a quick and easy adventure.

Park on the side of the road at the Pali Lookout along Route 61—from there, it’s a short but steep 0.8-mile round-trip hike that’ll take you to Likeke Falls.

This trail does contain some incline, so I recommend taking it at a slow and steady pace.

Thankfully, the path is easy to follow, so you can relax and enjoy the lush scenery.

Once you reach the end, prepare to be mesmerized by an exquisite two-tiered waterfall, complete with a tranquil pool.

Epic hikes to waterfalls in Oahu, by travel blogger What The Fab

5. Waimea Valley Trail

In the iconic North Shore, Oahu, you can find the Waimea Valley Trail, home to one of the island’s most beloved attractions, Waimea Falls. 

With its well-paved and straightforward route, the 1.9-mile-long Waimea Valley Trail is perfect for hikers of all ages and experience levels.

The beautiful path leads to one of the best Oahu waterfalls, and depending on weather conditions and bacterial levels, you may have the chance to plunge into the natural pool.

Life jackets are included in the entrance fee of $20 since swimming is at your own risk. 

This hike is situated in Waimea Valley and surrounded by a picturesque botanical garden—one of the coolest parts is the cultural and historical significance the falls hold.

Learn more about the area’s unique culture and rich history after exploring Waimea Falls by visiting the nearby Polynesian Cultural Center and Kualoa Ranch.

Epic hikes to waterfalls in Oahu, by travel blogger What The Fab
Image via @ellie_hutzler

6. Lulumahu Falls

Escape the chaos of Waikiki Beach by exploring the mesmerizing Lulumahu Falls, nestled just 25 minutes inland.

This 1.6-mile-long trail guides you through a charming bamboo forest filled with captivating greenery to a gorgeous hidden gem of a waterfall.

Pay special attention to the pink and yellow ribbons tied around various trees along the trail to ensure you stay on the path and don’t get lost.

To access Lulumahu Falls, you must purchase a day-use permit online for $2.50 (plus a processing fee) since the trail is on private property.

One pass will provide entry for up to five individuals—make sure to print two copies of your permit to display in your car and take in your backpack.

Epic hikes to waterfalls in Oahu, by travel blogger What The Fab
Image via @iazrael_

7. Waiakeaukua Falls

At the end of Pu’u’pia Trail lies Waiakeakau Falls, a stunning waterfall tucked among the lush greenery of Manoa Valley.

The hike is a 2.4-mile round-trip adventure with some steep climbs, making it a moderate challenge for the average hiker.

Waiakeakua Falls is a peaceful Hawaiian oasis that offers the perfect change of pace from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

For an unforgettable adventure, add the stunning Waiakeakua Falls to your list of must-visit hikes to waterfalls in Oahu.

Epic hikes to waterfalls in Oahu, by travel blogger What The Fab
Image via @seafaringali

8. Laie Falls Trail

Lying in the shadows of the majestic Ko’olau mountain range, Laie Falls Trail is a dazzling hike that offers views of a waterfall and the Pacific Ocean.

This trail typically takes 1.5 hours roundtrip, giving hikers the perfect opportunity to unwind and connect with nature. 

Laie Falls Trail is relatively easy until the last two miles, which require some rock scrambling—it’s nothing too crazy, but go into it knowing what to expect!

Since the Laie Falls hike is on private property, you can only access this trail if you secure an approved permit. 

Thankfully, this trail is rarely busy, so it’s perfect for escaping the tourist crowds and venturing into a wild Hawaiian landscape.

9. Jackass Ginger Pool

Despite the slightly comedic title, the falls at Jackass Ginger Pool are nothing short of breathtaking.

This natural waterfall makes for a fantastic family day out, though the trail can be tricky to navigate due to roots and rocks. Once you reach the falls, you won’t be disappointed!

The humorous name of this waterfall is said to come from an old tale about a brave fireman who brought his donkey to cool off in the falls, offering a brief escape from Hawaii’s scorching sun.

It’s undecided whether this origin story is true, but one thing you can be sure of is that the falls at Jackass Ginger Pool will leave you enchanted by their beauty.

The best part is the naturally formed rock slides where you can slip and slide into crystal clear waters below—trust me, it’s fun no matter how old you are.

If you come with little ones, keep a close eye on them, as there are no lifeguards in this waterfall area.

Epic hikes to waterfalls in Oahu, by travel blogger What The Fab
Image via @808bec

10. Koloa Gulch Trail

Lace up your hiking boots and fill up your water bottles for this next hike to a waterfall in Oahu, Koloa Gulch Trail.

The Koloa Gulch Trail will test your mental strength and physical endurance since it stretches seven miles out and back.

Before hitting the trail, make sure to grab a permit which is required since this hike is located on private property.

The Koloa Gulch Trail is definitely an adventure, so be prepared for some challenging uphill climbs—I promise all the effort is worth it once you catch a glimpse of Koloa Falls.

Along this path, you can try rock hopping at Koloa Stream and naming as many lush fruit trees and native plants as you can remember.

Image via @griffinbrady87

11. Ka’au Crater

Take in the beautiful Hawaiian landscape with an unforgettable experience hiking through the jungle to reach Ka’au Crater in Oahu.

Soak up the gorgeous sights of Honolulu and its surrounding waters while winding through a trail to Ka’au Crater—along the way, you’ll pass by three stunning waterfalls. 

Tackling this 4.5-mile-long trek is not for the faint of heart, as you’ll encounter wet and slippery areas with steep hiking sections, though experienced hikers should have no trouble navigating them.

If you reach the top, you’ll be rewarded with a breathtaking view of lush forests and tumbling waterfalls.

Take regular breaks and bring plenty of snacks and water so you can enjoy this trail, and be respectful of the fact that Ka’au Crater is considered private property.

Image via @losacker

12. Kaipapau Falls

Set your sights on majestic Kaipapau Falls, and you’ll be treated to a picturesque eight-mile journey, though it’s important to monitor weather conditions if you want a successful hike.

To ensure an enjoyable trek, it’s best to set out early in the morning when temperatures are cooler, and you have ample time to take breaks.

You’ll hike through a thick forest with fascinating abandoned bunkers that will make you feel like you’ve been transported to an entirely different world.

Since the hike to Kaipapau Falls is lengthy, it’s essential to pack enough water and snacks to keep your energy up so you can enjoy the falls once you arrive. 

At the end of the hike, you’ll be rewarded with views of a gorgeous 100-foot waterfall cascading into a clear pool of water—don’t forget your camera!

Image via @hikingoahu

13. Waipuhia Falls (aka Upside-Down Waterfall)

Waipuhia Falls, also known as the Upside-Down Waterfall, is a local marvel that earned its unique name from a phenomenon that occurs on rainy and windy days.

Instead of cascading from top to bottom as most waterfalls do, strong gusts of wind force the stream of water backward on stormy days, giving this waterfall the unique appearance of flowing upside down.

Although the hike to Waipuhia Falls is short at less than a mile roundtrip, it can be tricky for young children and inexperienced hikers since the path is poorly marked.

Manage to make your way up the trail, and you’re guaranteed one-of-a-kind waterfall views—it’s best to visit after a day of heavy rain!

Image via @jonathanegreenwood

14. Kapena Falls

On days when you want to see a waterfall but can’t be bothered to go on a long hike, Kapena Falls is the perfect destination.

This 0.3-mile roundtrip hike in Oahu boasts less than 100 feet of elevation gain and is an effortless trek suitable for all ages.

Kapena Falls is the perfect hike for young ones or anyone who wants to witness a stunning Hawaii waterfall with minimal difficulty.

The views at the end of this short hike will blow you away, so keep this trail in your back pocket next time you need to kill a few hours in Oahu.

Make sure to save this guide to the best hikes to waterfalls in Oahu if you’re planning a Hawaii vacation!

Tag me on Insta (@wtfab) if you visit any of these gorgeous trails so I can see all your waterfall selfies.

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Can you hike to Maunawili Falls?

Unfortunately, Maunawili Falls is closed but should open later in 2023.

What are the best hikes to waterfalls in Oahu?

I recommend visiting Waimano Falls, Waimea Valley Trail, or Ka’au Crater.

What are the most accessible waterfall hikes in Oahu?

Manoa Falls Trail and Kapena Falls are family-friendly hikes to waterfalls in Oahu.

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