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Best Waterfalls on Oahu, Hawaii

Updated on September 17, 2014

If you're visiting Hawaii during the winter, take advantage of the rain! Most places on Oahu average 4-6 inches of rain per month during the winter, making trails muddy and slippery. It’s a real pain in the ass to wash mud off your shoes (and your dog) after a hike, so it can be tempting to opt for something less dirty, like go cart racing, or museum visiting, but rain makes waterfalls, and Oahu has plenty that you don’t want to miss.

Waimano Falls
Waimano Falls

Waimano Falls

It seems like most of Oahu’s waterfalls are on the north or east shore, all a pretty good drive from where the majority of Oahu’s population lives. This gushing waterfall, complete with a rope swing, is nestled right behind Pearl City, on the south side of the island. Waimano Falls isn’t always flowing heavily, but if you go during the winter or after a few days of rain, you’ll be rewarded with one of the most easily accessible, big waterfalls on the island. The hike is three miles, round trip, and takes you through thick forest and over webbed roots. Unfortunately, the last half of this hike is all downhill, which means after you’ve exhausted yourself by backflipping off the rope swing, you have to climb up “cardiac hill.”

Kalihi Ice Ponds

There’s a serene waterfall past where Kalihi Road dead ends. The last of three cascades is a calm but treacherous, black rock falls, covered in invisible slime. It’s the perfect height for jumping, but dangerously slippery. Someone was kind enough to anchor a rope through the middle of the falls, so you don’t kill yourself trying to climb it. Behind it, two small cascades tumble through a tight valley. It’s dark and green back there, and if you hang out for a while, you’ll forget that over 950,000 people live on the island.

Kalihi Ice Ponds
Kalihi Ice Ponds

Maunawili Falls

People don’t go here just for the waterfall. People go here to jump off of a 45 foot cliff and land at the base of the falls. On the weekend, hoards of hikers sit stadium style on large rocks in the bed of the stream and watch the festivities. Be careful if you’re planning this hike on a cloudy day. Maunawili Falls is in a valley and is therefore prone to flash floods. Don’t get caught down there in a storm!

Waimea Falls

For those seeking a little less adventure, Waimea Falls has you covered. Waimea Falls is at the back of an organized botanical garden in Waimea Valley. There is an entrance fee, and if you’re really against hiking, you can even pay to take a golf cart down to the falls. This is a heavy tourist area, but the waterfall is almost always flowing nicely, and swimming is encouraged, as long as there hasn't been a huge storm.

Don't let Hawaii's winter weather get you down. Grab some old tenis shoes, a camera, and your sense of adventure and hunt down Hawaii's best waterfalls.


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