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11 AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII

11 AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII

Looking for the best waterfalls on Oahu, Hawaii? This list covers all of the top waterfalls, best waterfalls to swim in and best waterfalls for cliff jumping. There are actually hundreds of waterfalls on Oahu but most of them are deep in the forest or inaccessible amidst the steep ridges of the island. However, there are many beautiful waterfalls on the island within reach for tourists and hikers to explore and enjoy.

Waterfall after waterfall... | Photo by Kalen Emsley at Sacred Falls, Oahu https://t.co/a4n3ZqW4DK #istanbul #food #lezzet #mutfak #nefis …

BEST WATERFALL TOURS ON OAHU

There are a few popular waterfall tours on Oahu that will give you a guided experience to some of the most scenic waterfalls on the island. I’ve listed the three most popular waterfall tours below and you can click those links for more information but they are all well-reviewed and top-rated tours.

11 AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII

MANOA FALLS

  • Distance: 2.7km
  • Duration: 1-2 hours
  • Elevation: 210m

Manoa Falls is one of my most suggested hikes to visitors looking for a short and easy hike on Oahu. The trail is defined for the entire route, which gives you plenty of freedom to take in the wondrous scenery.

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.

The hike 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.

Read my full blog post: Manoa Falls Trail

If you prefer to join a guided tour to show you the way and share stories and history with you, I can recommend this top-rated tour. It includes hiking Diamond Head and Manoa Falls in one day.

Book your tour: Guided Tour Diamond Head Crater Hike (Morning)

Manoa Falls

WAIMEA FALLS

Waimea Falls, also known as Waihi Falls is on the north shore of Oahu. It’s one of the most accessible waterfalls on Oahu and is found in Waimea Valley. Within the valley, you can explore the botanic gardens and historic sites.

Waimea Falls is 45-foot high and you can jump into the water. Be sure to check the depth and conditions before doing so. I wrote a blog post about the 11 best cliff jumping spots on Oahu you might want to check out as well.

This is also a great waterfall for swimming as the pool at the bottom is a great place to relax and hang out with friends. Just across the road from Waimea Falls is Waimea Bay Beach Park, which is famous for its huge surf in the winter and beautiful swimming, snorkeling, and rock jump in the summer.

There’s a pretty cool tour that includes visiting this waterfall but also a full-island tour around Oahu. You can check it out here: Waimea Waterfall & Circle Island Adventure Tour

Waimea Falls
Waimea Falls, Oahu, Hawaii

THE FOUR MOST POPULAR OAHU TOURS

MAUNAWILI FALLS

A 2.5-mile roundtrip waterfall hike through beautiful, lush forest and at times muddy trails ends at Mauna Wili falls. It’s one of the most popular waterfalls on Oahu and can get quite busy on the weekends. The Oahu waterfall is found just off of the Pali Highway.

Cliff jumping is also possible at this location and there are a number of different heights to jump from. I personally know several people who have been injured jumping at this spot so check your depth and for debris if you plan to jump.

The waterfall is 20ft and has a great jungle vibe to the spot with thick foliage and vines surrounding the falls.

 WAIMANO FALLS

Waimano Falls involves a 3-mile round trip hike. At the end of the trail is the free-flowing falls and two pools to swim in. The route begins at the Manana trail and will take about an hour. The trek to Waimano falls is through the canopy of the forest and is a great build-up to the waterfalls, where you will need a refreshing dip in one of the less popular waterfalls on Oahu.

The other awesome part about Waimano Falls is that it is one of the waterfalls on Oahu that is a great place for cliff jumping. The jump is about 15-20 feet. As always check for debris first and check the landing area. Just because your friend did it safely last week doesn’t mean a rock hasn’t moved since or a log is wedged beneath the surface.

Waimano Falls is the perfect spot for a short trail hike and hangout area for a day trip with friends.

DSC_6754

What are my favorite pieces of gear for waterfall adventures?

There are four pieces of gear that I simply never forget when I go on a waterfall adventure. These are four items that I using right now and this list gets updated every year! Here are my waterfall adventure essentials.

  • Arcteryx BETA AR Rain Jacket: This is my go-to rain jacket. It’s super light, folds down into a tiny ball, and protects brilliantly in a storm. This one never leaves my backpack.
  • Osprey Ultralight Dry Sack: Waterfalls get wet and wild so having this ultralight dry sack for cameras, phones and valuables means you don’t have to hold back!
  • PackTowl Quick-Dry Towel: A quick-dry towel is a must for travelers. It hardly takes up any room and dries in seconds.
  • GoPro Hero 10: The best and easiest way to capture your underwater and snorkeling adventures.

SACRED FALLS (Closed)

**Anyone caught hiking sacred falls must appear in court and will face significant files and possible jail time according to the Department of Land & Natural Resources.

Sacred Falls is a bit of a mysterious place. To reach the falls you have to walk through a narrow gorge. Unstable cliffs frequently drop rocks and even helicopters overhead can generate enough wind to dislodge instead boulders and rocks sending them hurtling down into the ridge. Several fatalities have occurred in the gorge of Sacred Falls when huge boulders fell from above. 8 people were killed and over 50 people were injured in 1999. It has been closed to the public ever since. Many places on Oahu are closed to the public and people still visit them. I’ll be the first to say that many of the ‘illegal’ places aren’t very dangerous but this is one place that is closed for a very good reason.

Plenty of people still defy the law and risk huge consequences to see one of the most impressive waterfalls on Oahu.  It’s a 2-3 hour round trip of 4.5 miles.

Despite the hike being illegal and dangerous, there is still a great way you can see one of the biggest waterfalls on Oahu, which is on a helicopter tour. There’s one great tour that will fly above Sacred Falls, which is actually the best view of the waterfall anyway. I have linked it here so you can check out the tour prices and availability: North Shore & Sacred Falls Waterfall Helicopter Tour

Waterfall after waterfall... | Photo by Kalen Emsley at Sacred Falls, Oahu https://t.co/a4n3ZqW4DK #istanbul #food #lezzet #mutfak #nefis …

LULUMAHU FALLS

Lulumahu Falls is just off the Pali and a great half-day adventure. The 2-mile trail is relatively flat and only takes about 30 minutes before you reach the stunning, tiered waterfall. There is a small pool at the bottom of the waterfall you can swim in.

Lulumahu Falls

LI’KEKE FALLS

Li’keke Falls is one of the lesser-known waterfalls on Oahu but has an impressive tiered flow. The largest level of the cascade is well over 15 feet. The 3.5-mile roundtrip hike to the waterfall begins at the Pali Lookout parking lot. Other hikes nearby include the Pali Notches and the Pali Puka hikes, which are both great for sunset.

Likeke Falls

KAPENA FALLS

This is one of the coolest waterfall hikes on Oahu, with a Jurassic Park vibe throughout the hike. Vines, giant leaves, and huge boulders make you feel like you are deep in the jungle, far away from civilization. However, visiting this waterfall on Oahu is just a fun day trip.

The waterfall is a small but powerful 15-foot stream of water with a big pool for swimming. There are several spots to jump from and there even used to be a rope swing at Kapena Falls.

The hike is just off Nuuanu Avenue and is less than a mile so it’s a great way to start off your morning with a short trek through the jungle and a dip in some icy waterfall water.

Kapena Falls

LAIE FALLS

Laie Falls is one of the least trafficked waterfalls on Oahu. This is because it is a lengthy 6-mile trek out and back to reach the falls, which are beautiful but not huge in scale. This is an adventure for those seeking an off-the-beaten-path adventure rather than a huge, spectacular waterfall. The hike is in Laie, which is on the north shore of Oahu.

laie falls

KALIHI ICE PONDS (Closed)

Kalihi Ice Ponds is a short trek just under 2 miles out and back. A small waterfall flows into a large pool but you need to keep exploring. Climb the top up the falls and discover several other falls and pools beyond the first pool. This is an awesome adventure spot for a day out with friends that doesn’t involve too much hiking like some of the waterfalls on Oahu. The trail is closed therefore making it illegal but it is still commonly frequented, especially on weekends.

Kalihi Ice Ponds.

WAIPUHIA FALLS

Waipuhia Falls is a famous spot for a unique reason. This waterfall is also known as the ‘Upside-down falls’ because the strong winds blow the water with such force it gives the illusion the water is actually flowing up the falls. Just off the Pali Highway, this is one of the lesser hiked waterfalls but definitely worth checking out on a windy, stormy day!

Waipuhia Falls

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 with a private lagoon.
  • Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach.
  • Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD.
  • Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location.
  • Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like you are living in a theme park.

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!

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Brenda

Tuesday 1st of October 2019

First timer to Hawaii. Your article are a big help! Thanks

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James

Sunday 9th of June 2019

The biggest danger in hiking these trails is encountering a group of local native Hawaiians. The locals hate white people (hoales) and have no problem gang fighting whites. If you visit Hawaii stay within the tourist areas or risk getting jumped by a group of mokes. Outside the tourist areas the island is pretty much a shit hole.

dunc

Saturday 22nd of June 2019

PLEASE PLEASE PLEASE only stay within the boundaries of Waikiki. Outside of Waikiki roving gangs of mokes attack whites with clubs and sticks. You risk instant death if you venture beyond the ramparts of Waikiki. It is like Afghanistan or Chicago out there.

Cassie

Friday 29th of March 2019

Makaua Falls, some technical rope climbs up small waterfalls. Wear bottoms and shoes that can get wet. Short and beautiful hike! Go after some consistent rains to see the 200+ foot waterfall at the end!