MANOA FALLS TRAIL ON OAHU, HAWAII
Less than fifteen minutes from Waikiki, you will find Manoa Falls Trail. Here you can enjoy a short hike at the filming locations of Jurassic Park and the television show LOST that is highlighted by a massive waterfall.
Manoa Falls Trail is one of my most suggested hikes to visitors looking for a short adventure. The trail is defined for the entire route, which gives you plenty of freedom to take in the wondrous scenery. In this blog post, I will share with you information about the location of the hike, what to expect, the best-value tours and of course share with you my photos.
MANOA FALLS FILM LOCATION
If you feel yourself looking around wondering why everything looks so familiar, don’t worry you aren’t going crazy. Some of the scenes from the original “Jurassic Park” were filmed along the hike. More recently the TV series “Lost” filmed many of its scenes in the lush rainforest environment.
MANOA FALLS TRAIL OPENING HOURS
Manoa Falls trail officially opens at 8am and there is really no reason to arrive earlier. Sunrise won’t be of any interest this deep in the jungle. The trail closes at 7pm.
MANOA FALLS TRAIL TOUR GUIDE
The best way to experience Manoa Falls is with an experienced tour guide who can explain all of the local flora and fauna, most of which is unique to Oahu. You can book yourself onto a guided tour that includes pick/up and drop-off from your Waikiki hotel.
Book your tour: Manoa Falls Guided Tour (with hotel pick/up)
MANOA FALLS HIKING TRAIL LOCATION
The Manoa Falls trailhead is up in the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve. From Waikiki, it takes about 10-15 minutes to drive up here. You can also catch the public bus and it will drop you within walking distance of the trail. There is a parking lot at the base of Manoa Falls although I believe it costs a few dollars. The map below shows the pinned location of the Manoa Falls trailhead.
MANOA FALLS TRAIL
Manoa Falls is a relatively short hike of 1.6 miles return, taking about an hour out and back or two hours out and back if you stop to take in all of the plants and have a dip in the waterfall. It is moderately flat and although there is no paved path, the dirt path is quite well worn from the thousands of tourists visiting the waterfall every week.
The Manoa Falls Trail winds next to a small stream, passing many different species of plants and trees that will definitely have you stopping for a closer look.
The hiking trail leads up to a breathtaking waterfall cascading 150 feet down the mountainside. The water might not be as warm as the Pacific Ocean but it sure is refreshing to stand under the natural shower. The signs will say don’t enter the waterfall but that is brushed aside by most people who go for a dip in the waterfall. I often get a few weird looks when I go for a quick dip but I am soon joined by the next group of eager tourists.
The trail winds next to a small stream, passing many different species of plants and trees that will definitely have you stopping for a closer look.
This hike surprised me when I first arrived on Oahu because I didn’t expect the island to have such an array of flora. I was expecting palms and tropical plants but on this hike alone you will experience a small bamboo forest, giant tree trunks too big to hug, palms and intricate ferns.
Manoa Falls Trail is a perfect little hike to do in the morning, leaving the rest of your day free for more exploring or relaxing at the beach.
This tree arch is one of my favorite spots on the Manoa Falls Trail. It’s an incredible act of nature to form an arch over the pathway and is one of the top photo spots along the route.
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