Jackass Ginger Pool & the Judd Memorial Trail have natural water slides, rope swings, a bamboo forest and a woodland wonderland. It’s one of my favorite off the beaten path adventures on Oahu.
Oahu is covered with incredibly dangerous hikes, narrow ridge trails and hidden entrances. These can get overwhelming if you just want to enjoy some fresh air and get your fix of nature. If it is a simple hike you are looking for, I can recommend the Judd Memorial Trail and the Jackass Ginger Pool.
JUDD TRAIL DIFFICULTY & DISTANCE
This trail is a 1-mile loop with different surprises around every corner and is only slightly more challenging than the Manoa Falls Trail. You can expect to find a bamboo forest, imposing pine trees, a swinging rope, and rocky water slides flowing into a giant swimming hole. The trail is well worn in some paths but still provides enough to keep you on your toes with roots, branches, and rocks spread throughout the area. The total hike will take less than 1.5 hours including time chilling at the Jackass Ginger Pool.
JACKASS GINGER POOL & JUDD MEMORIAL TRAIL ON OAHU
To reach the hike you drive down the Pali and then turn right onto Nuuanu Pali Drive. I have included a map below with the pinned location for the trailhead.
Initially you must climb across the stream, bounding from rock to rock beneath a canopy of intertwined trees. We really didn’t know what to expect from this trail but from the first moment, we were blown away by the magical atmosphere of the hike and the fact that it was so quiet. We only saw one other group as we made our way along the loop.
After crossing the stream, a bamboo forest engulfs the trail for a few hundred yards. At times the diversity of this trail really has you questioning which part of America you in. We went from bamboo by the river to huge pine trees so tall our necks were hurting a moment later. It almost felt as though a deer was about to come around the corner.
The pine trees blew me away, I had never been on a hike with trees quite so large and uniform. Evenly spaced and growing straight up towards the sunlight, they really did create a woodland scene I never expected to come across in Hawaii.
THE JACKASS GINGER POOL
The Judd Memorial Trail continues to follow the Nu’uanu stream before leading you to Jackass Ginger Pool, a swimming hole, which is next to the backyard of some very lucky homeowners. If you have a natural swimming pool 30 yards from your doorstep kudos to you.
At the Jackass Ginger Pool, we met a father who was enjoying the small rock slides down the cascading falls with his two daughters. This is an awesome spot to come for some uncrowded fun in a little rock pool. Kids absolutely love these kinds of spots with creatures everywhere and endless spots to explore. We went for a dip in the icy water and had some fun on the rope swing.
From this point, the hike is pretty straight-forward winding back to the trailhead. We had a little fun on the way back as my hiking partner, Just Salvesen, decided to test the berries to see if they were poisonous and he also claimed to catch a fish with his bare hands straight out of the flowing stream. (Watch the video to see the validity of these claims)
JUDD MEMORIAL TRAIL MAP
What to pack for a trip to Hawaii
What to pack for Hawaii?: After multiple trips to Hawaii, there are some items you NEED to pack. I wrote a blog post with all of my suggestions about things you might not think about packing: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY
Where to stay on Oahu
Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach. Luxury rooms overlooking the beach, a private lagoon and a free fireworks and dance performance show. Hilton is easily the most recognizable hotel on the Island.
Why I recommend this hotel: It has its own private lagoon. While lots of people love the beach it is perfect for families. Kids can kayak, swim and snorkel with no worries. There are no currents, waves or sea creatures to worry about. The hotel is right on Waikiki Beach so don’t worry the beach is right there also.
Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach. The bar and nightclub at the Sheraton is a great place to relax after a long day of island adventures.
Why I recommend this hotel: The Sheraton is always exceptional no matter the location but imagine you are leaning over the edge of an infinity pool, the ocean is below you and you turn to your left and watch Diamond Head crater in the distance. That’s where you will be at the end of each day, having a Mai Tai cocktail in your infinity pool. Later on, in the evening Rumfire is a great bar venue, which is actually part of the Sheraton. It is open to the public and is one of the best high-end venues on Oahu. It has a small dance floor but is mostly standing and seating areas for drinks, chats and good times.
Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Hotels in Waikiki can be expensive. Deciding where to stay on Oahu can be difficult if you don’t have much cash. Luckily, there is an accommodation option on the edge of Waikiki that is excellent value.
Why do I recommend this hostel/hotel: This is the perfect hotel if you want location but are willing to sacrifice a pool and some luxury items to save up to $200 per night. All of the hotels in this area are minimum $300 per night and often much more. Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD. If you are like me, I never swim in the hotel pool anyway. Didn’t you come halfway across the world to swim in the beach!
Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location. Walking distance to Waikiki beach and a central location to base yourself for a week of adventures.
Why I recommend this hostel: Unfortunately Waikiki and Honolulu, in general, are not cheap. You can grab a dorm room for under $35 a night within walking distance to Waikiki surf beach. This location really is great. You are near a lot of attractions and can take public transport to a lot of great east coast beaches and hikes. It is the number one hostel in Waikiki and I’m sure you will meet other adventurers to go on hikes with!
Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like a theme park at times with just how many pools and activities are available. If you can afford it, this is the #1 place to stay for families on Oahu.
Why I recommend this hotel: Disney Aulani Resort combines luxury accommodation with family fun. A huge lazy river/tire tube lagoon is probably the highlight of the resort although the water slides and private beach aren’t too far behind. The kids club and massage center are just among a few of the many activities included in your stay. Attend ukelele lessons, free fire-pit story-telling at night and more and more! Your kids will never be bored and the quality of entertainment and facilities is just beyond amazing.
MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!
What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY
A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU: WHICH REGION IS BEST FOR YOU?
Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII: UPDATED 2018
The best Waterfalls: 11 AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU, HAWAII
Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU, HAWAII
The Best Hikes on Oahu: 10 BEST HIKES ON OAHU, HAWAII
My favorite experience on Oahu: AMAZING DOORS OFF HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU, HAWAII
The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 THINGS TO DO ON OAHU – THE BUCKET LIST