Hoping to see some of the most beautiful views on Oahu? Find out the best Oahu waterfall hikes for every hiking level. Scroll down to read about them all!!
This Oahu waterfall hikes post contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.
One of the best places to go on vacation with the whole family is definitely Hawaii.
Take the family on trails for a hike and be amazed by the beautiful tropical landscapes is something you must do while there.
If everything is planned correctly, you and the family will also get to experience the picturesque waterfalls.
Are you wondering where to go for a hike and to enjoy the magnificent view of the surreal waterfalls?
Read on and check out the best Oahu waterfall hikes.
You’ll get to experience a wide variety of waterfalls and nature, from plunging pools to cascades, to tall grass and bamboo forest.
It’s a must-do vacation, and it will certainly be a highlight your kids will surely remembered for years to come.
12 Breathtaking Oahu Waterfall Hikes
1. MANOA FALLS
Manoa Falls is located at the back of Manoa Valley, which is quite close to Waikiki.
The rich greenery experiences morning drizzles, which keeps the valley fresh and favorable.
The waterfall is reliant on rainfall during the month, as most of the ones on the island.
You’ll enjoy the smell of the earth and the flowing waterfalls, thanks to the drizzles.
The hike is actually quite short, taking 20 to 30 minutes to get to the waterfalls.
On the trail you’ll see bamboo forest, rooted trees and different colors and kinds of flowers.
The waterfall is 150 feet tall and will definitely impress the kids.
Parking isn’t a problem as there’s more than enough, and it costs $5 to park your car.
2. WAIMANO FALLS
The hike to Waimano Falls is probably the best hike you can do in Oahu.
It’s become very popular over the years and many crowds of people come to hike the trail.
From the Manana Trail, you’ll get access to the Waimano Falls.
The Manana trail is found on the Koma Mai Drive in Aiea, which is at the end of the residential area.
The trail hike will take about 1 or 2 hours to reach the waterfall.
The valley is picturesque and you’ll get to experience the beauty of the nature on your way to the falls.
Going to the Waimono Falls is a downhill way, so getting back from there would be an uphill- which is called “cardiac hill” due to this.
There’s a swinging rope by the pool and you can hear the rushing sounds of the water.
The bottom pool is quite deep so you can jump right in, however it is quite cold.
There are actually multiple water pools- the highest part of the waterfall has moss which covers its rock walls and create magnificent scenery.
Find out what to wear hiking in Hawaii.
3. WAIMEA FALLS
Waimea Falls, otherwise known as Waihi Waterfall which is found in Waimea Valley which is know to the Hawaiians as “The Valley of the Priests.”
The valley has been sacred for over 700 years to the Hawaiians and the area has cultural significance with 79 archeological sites.
The area is actually a preservation of the Hawaiian people’s culture.
There is a ticket booth which is about three quarters of a mile from the trail, and it’s found on a paved path.
The prices of the tickets vary depending on your age, or if you’re a student.
At the Falls you’ll find a changing room with lockers where you can keep your things safely. While at the valley, you would be required to wear a life jacket.
The waterfall is 45 feet tall and has cascades of water flowing down and into the pool, which is covered in fauna and flora.
The stairs are covered in moss and there are lifeguards on duty to ensure your safety.
The water is cold but it’s great to swim in and cool off. Your kids would surely enjoy learning about the rich culture of Hawaii.
4. MAUNAWILI FALLS
Maunawili Falls is found in Kailua and is a top Oahu destination.
This is the perfect spot for adventurous hikers to experience an adrenaline rush.
You access the falls by parking in a residential area. Please be respectful in the way you park, as to not block the residents driveways.
The fall is 20 feet tall and the trail to get there is rather muddy, so preparation is key.
The fall may be small, but there’s no denying its picturesque beauty.
The Maunawii Falls is considered one of the best Oahu waterfall hikes.
The trail as a round-trip would take about 2 to 3 hours. This would definitely be one for the books for your family and yourself.
5. LIKEKE FALLS
Likeke Falls, otherwise known as the Old Pali Highway Falls, is found below the Pali Lookout and is a mesmerizing two-tiered waterfall.
This is probably one of the most easiest waterfalls to access, however one can get lost if a map isn’t in hand.
There are two routes which can be used to hike the trail to the waterfall.
The first route is the Old Pali Highway from Pali Lookout. This trail would take an hour and a half.
The second route is a lot easier and significantly shorter. It would take about 15 minutes to get to the waterfall. The route starts at the bottom of the Ko’olau Golf Club.
So it all comes down to preference, in terms of which route you would like.
If you’re with really young kids, then perhaps the shorter route would do.
Otherwise, go for the longer hike with your spouse and the kids. Just be prepared for a strenuous workout.
The other great thing about Likeke is that you’ll find other interesting waterfalls on your way to Likeke Falls.
6. LAIE FALLS
This is the perfect hike for the adventurist and nature enthusiast.
The trail to Laie Falls is a rather long one, 7 miles to be exact. It would take about 4 hours to hike.
To go on the trail you need to get a permit from the Hawaii Reserves which are on the northeastern side at the Laie Shopping Center.
The hike is an adventure on its own, you’ll get to experience pine, bamboo, strawberry guava trees and exposed ridges.
The quiet trail with a countryside atmosphere leads you to the 15 foot waterfall which is two-tiered.
There is a swimmable pool and there are food trucks and restaurants nearby that you, your spouse and your kids will enjoy to indulge in once you’re done exploring.
7. KOLOA GULCH
The Koloa Gulch trail is a long one which requires hikers to preserve their energy.
It’s an 8 mile trail and it begins at the open ridge at the Koolau Range.
The trail includes rock hopping over 20 times through the Koloa Stream, fruit trees, small waterfalls, water pool and native plants before reaching the fork, to the left you’ll find a pool and small waterfall, to the right you’ll find smaller pools before reaching the big, 100 foot waterfall.
It’s a really hard trail, but it’s so worth it.
The entire hike could take about 8 hours, but it comes down to the pace you take along the trail and what the weather is like.
To do the trail hike you would need to get a permit at the Laie Shopping Center.
It is advised to do this trail hike if you are a more experienced hiker and fit. Do the trail with your spouse and maybe with the kids, depending on their age.
8. KAIPAPAU FALLS
The Kaipapau Falls is also an 8 mile trail, however it is trickier than the Koloa Gulch trail.
With the former, you would need to rock hop across the stream about 40 times.
Again, the trail is very much weather dependent.
The trail takes you through a beautiful and lush forest, and past bunkers that have been abandoned.
Once you’ve managed to cross the stream you will come to a magnificent 90 foot waterfall, that you and the kids will be at awe with.
This is a trail which is highly recommended to have experienced hikers come along with you while you’re hiking.
It’s a great hike to do with the family, as long as you’re experienced, fit and the kids are of appropriate age.
9. KAPENA FALLS
For a refreshing change of pace, but with nothing short of beautiful, go and see the Kapena Falls.
The trail is way shorter than the Koloa Gulch and Kaipapau Falls, but is suitable if you have really young children that don’t like hiking for so long.
The trail is a 0.5 mile roundtrip and is perfect for a short hike with the family one morning or afternoon.
The trail is heavily wooded and the forest is enchanting, the waterfall is also smaller but doesn’t fail to impress in terms of its beauty, standing at just 15 feet tall.
The pool beneath the waterfall is perfect to jump into and have a swim to cool off.
You’ll also find petroglyphs which are ancient to Hawaii and are found inside a small cage.
The petroglyphs are of men and dogs and they relate to the myth of Kaupe- which is a half man and half dog type of creature, who, according to legend, lives in the area.
The Kapena Falls is a sacred area, so being respectful at all times needs to be taken into consideration while being there.
10. WAIPUHIA FALLS
Waipuhia Falls is another shorter trail to hike, which takes about 0.6 miles.
You’ll find Waipuhia Falls off the Pali Highway, which is recommended to be hiked on a windy day.
The reason for this is because another name for Waipuhia Falls is the Upside Down Falls.
The name came along because of the illusion created by the force of the wind against the water, making it appear that the water is flowing upwards instead of downwards, defying gravity.
The trail is easier than most because it requires you to walk up a paved road.
The hike is gorgeous, you’ll see various kinds of flowers and plants as the state park preserves the endangered types.
11. JACKASS GINGER POOL
The trail that leads you to Jackass Ginger Pool is called the Judd Trail and it’s a 1 mile trail.
It’s a slightly more tedious trail than the Manoa Falls, but it’s no less exhilarating.
You’ll find pine trees, rocky water slides which lead to the swimming hole, bamboo forest and a swinging rope.
The path is tedious in the sense that there’s many rocks, roots and branches in the area- the trail is also quite worn.
The trail hike would take about an hour and a half, which would include some time spent at the Jackass Ginger Pool.
12. LANIKAI PILLBOX TRAIL
The Lanikai Pillbox Trail, otherwise known as the Kaiwa Ridge Hiking Trail, takes about an hour to hike, and the trail is about 2 miles.
The trail is known for its spectacular views off the coast of Kailua of the “Twin Islands” or “The Mokes.”
The large island is called Moku Nui and the small island is called Moku Iki.
Lanikai is also awed for its stunning turquoise colored blue waters.
The Lanikai Pillbox trail is named so because of the mass produced pillboxes during the time-period of World War 2, they were used by the soldiers to fight their enemies and to stand guard.
Nowadays, they’re utilized as pit-stops during the hiking of the trail.
Some of the areas on the island that you will find these pit-stops in are Koko Head, Lanikai, Ehukai and Diamond Head.
The trail isn’t very challenging, however the beginning part of the trail is quite difficult due to the steepness and the fact that it’s rather slippery.
Thankfully, the rest of the hike is relatively easy.
On Lanikai there are two pillboxes, so you can choose whether you would like to hike up to one or both, however the second pillbox involves more climbing.
So it depends on if you’re hiking with your spouse alone, or are the kids joining. If the kids are joining, rather consider hiking to only the first pillbox.
If you’re hiking with another adult, going to both wouldn’t be a problem.
And there you have it! Some of the most beautiful Oahu waterfall hikes. Have you tried any? Which ones are on your list?