Waterfall Hikes Oahu: Journey Into Paradise with These Amazing Adventures

Aquamarine waves that beckon surfers and swimmers aren’t the only thing that entice travelers to Oahu’s lush shores.

This veritable Eden is brimming with enough natural beauty to be considered a botanical garden. Immerse yourself in the flora and fauna of this tropical paradise when you explore all of the waterfall hikes Oahu. Read on to discover the very best waterfalls in Oahu.

From the magic of an ‘Upside Down Waterfall’ to channeling your inner Tarzan with the rope swings at Waimano Falls, there are countless ways to admire Oahu waterfalls.

Bring along a camera to document the arresting landscape of Koa Trees and blooming Plumeria, or pack up a swimsuit to refresh in a crystal clear lagoon.

Forget about the cares of the modern world as you traverse the Judd Trail, or hold your breath with anticipation as you soak in the sparkling scenery of the Koʻolau cliffs from the Pali Lookout.

Our Oahu team has done their due diligence to bring you all the dirty details on these top waterfall climbs. From easy hikes suitable for beginners to Waimea Falls vs Manoa Falls, we’ll cover it all.

Ready to dive into the ins and outs of all of the Oahu waterfall hikes? Let’s go!

man in blue shirt and shorts standing alongside water in a forest while hikingHiking in Oahu Waterfalls

Free-flowing falls, emerald green swaths of rainforest, and the crimson petals of hibiscus flowers will guide you on your journey of waterfall hikes in Oahu. Hikers of all skill levels will find a variety of cascades to conquer. Whether you opt for an easier or more advanced hiking trail, we recommend you bring along the following when hiking in Oahu:

  • Hiking Boots/proper footwear
  • Sunscreen
  • Bug spray
  • Sufficient water and snacks
  • Trail map
  • Fully charged cell phone
  • Camera
  • First aid kit
  • Extra socks
  • Swimsuit and/or change of clothes
  • Flashlight (for night hikes)

Please keep in mind that waterfalls in Oahu are majestic, natural attractions meant to be enjoyed by all. Treat them with respect, care, and kindness. Always adhere to the ‘leave no trace’ adage. This means packing up all trash, leftover food, and litter and leaving natural objects such as plants, rocks, and animals exactly as you found them. Take special care to avoid introducing or transporting non-native species into the environment.

Family hiking with a baby through palm trees on the Big Island, Hawaii, USABest Waterfall Hikes in Oahu

Pali Twin Falls

Solitude and a decent calf workout await adventurers looking to take on the Pali Twin Falls. This moderately challenging route works out to be a little over a mile in and out. Visitors can find parking at the Pali lookout and locals can park for free.

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While your calves might tense up, it’s well worth the climb to see the Twin Falls. Pay attention as you traverse the winding stretches as this is a popular trail for both trail runners and four-legged friends.

Laie Falls

A Cook Pine forest plus Ko Olau Mountain views make Laie Falls an epic waterfall reprieve. Savor a refreshing dip in a small swimming pool when you finally make it to the two-tiered fall. Your 7-mile trip should take about 3-4 hours depending on your pace and reach an elevation gain of 1400 feet. Be prepared for some scrambling, as the latter part of the hike will require a muddy descent aided by a rope lining.

Maunawili Falls

Pristine jungle vibes that seem like they’ve been lifted straight out of a storybook are what’s in store for hikers of Maunawili Falls*. of the most popular Oahu waterfall hikes, this beautiful waterfall excursion boasts emerald green waters, verdant vegetation, and multiple rope swings.

Take care of hiking after heavy rainfall as the 2.5-mile total trail can become quite muddy. Nevertheless, the trek is well worth the mess thanks to opportunities for cliff jumping and sighting the tumbling 20-foot falls. Plan for roughly two hours of hiking an elevation gain of 307 meters.

*Please note that the Maunawili Falls trail that goes over private land is closed, however, the portion that goes over the Forest Reserve is now open. Access to falls is expected to reopen during the Summer.

Small waterfall cascading over rocks into a pool surrounded by lush greenery

Manoa Falls

FernGully is that you? Prime yourself for jaw-dropping cascades of over 100 feet, when you complete the majestic Manoa Falls climb. An Oahu must-do, this ever-popular 1.7-mile roundtrip hike features an elevation gain of 600 feet. Thanks to a major renovation, visitors can now experience an easier trek due to added traction gravel and boulder rock removal.

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Marvel at the new rock wall surrounding the waterfall viewing area, and snap a selfie in front of the repurposed shipping container tunnel. Parking will run you $7, but it’s well worth it to revel in the Jurassic Park-worthy jungle. Some scenes from the famous flick were even shot there. After you spot winding vines and large patches of wild ginger, carry on till you reach the towering falls.

Waipuhia Falls

Just off Pali Highway lies a distinct natural phenomenon. Waipuhia Falls, also known as the Upside-Down Falls seem to defy the laws of nature. Visitors will be stunned as they complete the difficult under-a-mile trek to arrive at these seemingly inverted cataracts. Please note that the only trail for this hike goes through private property and is recommended for experienced hikers only due to overgrown vegetation, rocks, and mud.

Judd Trail

Fancy a rock jump? Get the adrenaline pumping when you plunge feet-first into a serene rock pool. This little over one-mile hike is open year-round and considered moderately challenging. Begin the scenic Judd Trail loop and spot bamboo, tropical flora, and even some wild chickens!

Due to its short nature and swimming pool conclusion, this is a perfect beginner hike for children. Bring along that swimsuit as you’ll want to take full advantage of the natural rock-slide plunge into the water.

Large rooted tree with moss growing in a green lush forestKapena Falls

On the hunt for an easy Oahu hike? Take on Kapena Falls in just a swimsuit and sandals. For an easy breezy jungle stroll opt for the .5 mile hike and arrive directly at the falls in less than 15 minutes. Take caution with the cliff jump as the water is relatively shallow. For a more involved trek opt to go to the right of the metal building and hike upstream to these small Honolulu falls. This route will require a rope down to the creek.

Waiakeakua Falls

Dreaming of dense forests, vast wilderness, and valleys? Lace-up those boots for a grimy, muddy, but thoroughly fantastic hike when you trek to Waiakeakua Falls. An ideal adventure post heavy rainfall, hikers will be met by thick rainforests, crossing streams, and a series of waterfalls when they complete the 3-mile journey.

This intermediate-level hike should take around 2-3 hours and allows leashed dogs. Keep your eyes peeled for fungi and slithering snails as you approach the trickling falls and the crystal-clear waters below.

Waimea Falls Oahu

An ancient historical site and a blooming botanical garden come together to make Waimea Falls a can’t miss Oahu attraction. Pay for a full-day admission and get ready to witness the staggering falls and rejuvenating swim firsthand. This laidback hike is perfect for all activity levels as it features a casual paved walk of 1.5 miles roundtrip.

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Those who require further assistance can even purchase one-way or roundtrip transportation on our electric shuttles. The lifeguard on duty will make the call if swimming is permissible in the waterfall pools. Regardless, of whether you splash or not, take a minute to explore the botanical gardens overflowing with native species such as the enchanting Hibiscus and the versatile Taro plant.

close up ground view of Waimea Falls | Waihi Falls in Kauai, Hawaii, USA

Ka’au Crater Hike

Prepare to lose your breath as you summit one of the best waterfall hikes in Oahu. The Ka’au Crater is both a local and tourist favorite, boasting unforgettable scenery and a steep elevation gain. Well worth the effort, trailblazers will be struck by the rich hues of the jungle forest and the misty lookouts.

Pack extra snacks and water as this 5-mile hike is mainly upstream and could take up to 6 hours to complete. Your efforts will be rewarded with sights of three large waterfalls and a view of the infamous Ka’au Crater.

Waimano Falls

An ethereal escape into Oahu’s wild side, Waimano Falls promises a sweet nearly 3-mile trek with 235 feet in elevation gain. A relatively steep climb, visit after a rainfall to appreciate the full breadth of the gorgeous falls and natural pool area. Bring along that camera as the gushing waters and big ropes make for incredible photo ops.

Oahu Hotels

Who says there’s only one type of Oahu vacation? While some people land firmly in the camp of relaxing poolside, Mai Tai in hand, others are keen to eke out every ounce of excitement. From the best Oahu waterfall climbs to surfing and jet skiing, there’s no reason not to make your Oahu getaway an equal balance of vigorous and restorative activities.

Pamper yourself post waterfall hike Oahu with a luxurious stay at any of our premier Oahu Hotels and Resorts. Revel in spellbinding sunsets from your private lanai or enjoy a soothing massage treatment at the on-site spa.

Set up kiddies for days of fun and sun at Camp Penguin, or splash around in a spacious outdoor pool. From private beaches to 24-hour fitness centers, our hotels offer something for every type of traveler.

Aerial view of downtown Honolulu on a sunny in with mountains in the background on Oahu, Hawaii, USA

Whether you were a huge fan of LOST, or are simply fantasizing about a digital detox, there’s no better way to embrace Mother Nature than an Oahu hike.

Get even more titillation from your sun-soaked sojourn when you combine your muddied trekking with waterfall chasing.

From hidden craters to thick forests of Coconut Palms and Noni trees, every Oahu waterfall hike is a hidden gem of adventure.

Watch a gravity-defying upside fall flow in reverse, or scramble down glistening rocks to cool off in a cerulean-colored natural pool.

From the calls of the Red-whiskered bulbul to the intoxicating scent of gardenia flowers every inch of Oahu delights the senses.

Can’t Wait to Make the Plunge?

Don’t wait; start planning your own Oahu waterfall hike today!


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Written by Isis Maya Nissman

A New York native, Isis-Maya spent most of her professional life working in TV production until a vacation whisked her away to Central...


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