Is It Worth Doing the Manoa Falls Hike with Kids?

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Guest post by Becca Robins

Are you looking for a waterfall hike on Oahu that is perfect for kids?

If you are visiting Oahu with your family, there are many great things to do. One of the best hikes on Oahu is Manoa Falls. It’s an easy hike and it has beautiful scenery along the way.

I’ll share exactly what it was like to hike to Manoa Falls with 3 kids.

Plus, I’ll tell you what to wear, what to pack, and how to make the most memorable time exploring this Oahu waterfall with your family.

Keep scrolling to find out what you need to know before taking your kids to hike Manoa Falls on Oahu. 

Don’t have time to read a bunch of Hawaii blog posts and reviews? Here are some of our top picks for visiting Oahu with kids.

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Waterfalls in Oahu FAQs

What are the most popular waterfall hikes on Oahu?

Oahu is full of gorgeous waterfalls that are best seen by hiking. A few of the best waterfall hikes in Oahu include Manoa Falls, Waimea Falls, and Hamama Falls.

What are the best hikes in Oahu for kids?

There are several kid friendly hikes on Oahu worth adding to your Oahu itinerary. Manoa Falls in Honolulu is a great hike for families who don’t want to venture too far from Waikiki. There’s also the Waimea Falls hike in North Shore Oahu.

Are there any waterfalls in Honolulu?

Yes! Manoa Falls is the closest waterfall to Waikiki. It’s located about 20 minutes away and you can take a short hike to see it.

Where is Manoa Falls on Oahu?

Manoa Falls is located near Honolulu, about 30 minutes north of Waikiki, in the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve. 

The Manoa Falls Trail Head is next to the Lyon Arboretum, which is worth a visit after your hike.

The trail will take you into the Oahu rainforest, giving you a completely different experience than the miles of beach.

Why We Chose This Waterfall Hike on Oahu 

When choosing a hike to do with our kids on Oahu, we went back and forth between Diamond Head and Manoa Falls. 

Image of a family of five posing next to the Manoa Falls trail sign on Oahu.
Sign for Manoa Falls in Oahu. Photo credit: Becca Robins

We chose Manoa Falls Waterfall hike with our kids for several reasons. First, we wanted our kids to experience the dense rainforest. The greenery and beauty of this area is breathtaking.

Second, in debating between hiking Manoa Falls and Diamond Head with kids, we took into account the trail. While Manoa Falls is a 1.7 mile round trip hike, it is mostly a slow incline. Diamond Head boasted nearly 100 stairs to climb. I knew, even if the hike was easy, the stairs would come with a lot of whining. 

The proximity to our lodging on Waikiki was also a plus, meaning we would not have to take a long car ride.

What to Know about the Manoa Falls Hike Before You Go:

Before you hike Manoa Falls with kids, there are a few things you will want to be aware of to make the most of your visit. Here are some of the top things to be aware of.

Manoa Falls Parking

Parking at Manoa Falls is a fairly small lot, located down a paved incline from the trailhead. The parking fee was minimal, at $5 per car.

Be sure to lock your car while you are gone, and do not leave anything of value. The lot is not monitored.

Manoa Falls Hike Time

When hiking Manoa Falls with kids, your hiking time will vary based on your pace, experience, and if you end up extending your hike on the Aihualama Trail (which takes you to the Nu’uanu lookout) on to your hike.

Image of three boys sitting on a stump along the Manoa Falls hiking trail on Oahu.
My kids posing on the Manoa Falls hiking trail. Photo credit: Becca Robins

The hike to the base of Manoa Falls is 1.75 miles round trip, and with our young children took us approximately 90 minutes total. That is also with several downpours of rain that we waited out.

What to Wear

When hiking Manoa Falls, be sure to wear quality shoes. For kids, this can mean Keens, or hiking boots, even tennis shoes. One of our children wore slip-on, casual shoes, even though we had specifically stated to wear his keens. They were covered in mud and he ended up slipping during the hike.

Image of a family of five posing on a wooden bridge along the hike to Manoa Falls on Oahu.
Here’s what we wore to hike Manoa Falls. Photo credit: Becca Robins

The trail is covered with a lot of rocks in places, and the frequent rain can make it quite slippery. It can also get very muddy, so do not wear clothes that you would be upset about if they were stained.

Our family wore shorts and tee shirts, but if you are used to the weather, pants and a long sleeve shirt would be even better as there are lots of mosquitos. 

One big miss our family made when hiking Manoa Falls with our kids… we did not bring our rain jackets or ponchos. We had them at the hotel but did not bring them. Before this, all the rain we had experienced had been more of a light misting. 

Once we were in the rainforest, however, my kids learned why they call it a rainforest. 

What to Bring/What to Pack

While Manoa Falls is a pretty easy hike to do with kids on Oahu, you will want to be sure to pack a small bag with some essentials.

Image of a family of 5 posing at Manoa Falls in Honolulu Hawaii.
We made it to Manoa Falls! Photo credit: Becca Robins

Be sure to bring bug repellent as you will be in the thick of the rainforest. This was the only place we ended up with mosquito bites during our trip, even with using repellent. 

You will also want to bring, as I mentioned above, ponchos or a rain jacket. It rains almost daily on this part of the island, so don’t let the weather forecast for your beach location fool you.

Finally, bring snacks and some water so that you can refuel once you reach the falls. 

Our kids were definitely ready for a snack when we got there.

While not necessary, a walking/hiking stick might be nice as well.

Are There Nearby Food/Drink Options?

While Manoa Falls is a hike, you can reward yourself with a Dole Whip, Hawaiian Shave Ice, or a delicious Acai Bowl after your hike.

Image of a gorgeous fruit plate on top of a halved pineapple.
Doesn’t this look amazing? Photo credit: Becca Robins

Right by the pay station is a small restaurant that offers treats at this time. (Hopefully, it will fully open again soon.)

5 Tips for Hiking Manoa Falls on Oahu with Kids

1. Plan to visit Manoa Falls early in the morning to avoid crowds.

We didn’t see many people as we were heading to the falls, but as we went back, there were a TON of people. We arrived at the falls at 8 am and enjoyed fewer crowds.

2. Do not plan on swimming in the pool at the bottom of the falls.

There were a LOT of signs saying that you should not swim. This is due to the threat of Leptospirosis.

3. Plan on taking an hour or two for the hike, more with young kids.

Our kids took about 50 minutes to hike to the falls and about 30 minutes to get back. The extra time on the way there was due to the uphill climb, and stopping to seek cover from the rain.

4. You can rinse off your shoes

If your shoes get all muddy on the hike, head to that little restaurant I mentioned, and instead of going in, cross the pedestrian bridge. They have a hose where you can spray off your shoes.

5. Plan a stop at Lynn Arboretum

If you want to make a full day of it, I suggest visiting the Lyon Arboretum (a botanical garden). Reservations open a week in advance, and you will utilize the same parking lot.

Would We Recommend This Oahu Waterfall Hike to Families?

In the end, I would definitely recommend Manoa Falls as a family hike with kids. It was a great adventure and let us see a different part of Oahu.

While Oahu is not known for its waterfalls, the beauty of Manoa Falls and the surrounding area are worth a visit.

Image of a family of five posing with Manoa Falls in the background
The hike to Manoa Falls was totally worth it! Photo credit: Becca Robins


Becca Robins is a travel writer and owner of This Crazy Adventure Called Life where she helps families plan memorable vacations. She specializes in travel to Disneyland and the West Coast. She lives with her husband and three sons in Idaho, where they enjoy hiking, swimming, and playing board games. 

Find her @thebeccarobins on Instagram and Twitter

Looking for more things to do in Oahu with kids? Find out the best Oahu easy hikes, Kualoa Ranch ATV tour review, affordable Oahu photographers, and how to visit Secret Island.