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Manoa Falls-Hiking Through a Hawaiian Rainforest

Updated on September 29, 2014

A Magical Hike in Paradise

Deep in the valley of Manoa lies Manoa Falls,an easy 30- minute hike through a lush rainforest filled with native flora and fauna. One of my favorite hikes on the island of Oahu, this is definitely one of the easiest, yet most beautiful hikes in Hawaii.

Located just a short 20-minute drive or a 30-minute bus ride from the Ala Moana Shopping Center, it's also one of the most accessible.

As weather plays an important function, it is crucial to know the forecast of your visit. Known for its frequent rain showers, the hike to the falls can get slippery and flash floods are not uncommon. So it's best to be prepared before a visit to the falls.

Fortunately for us, the weather was perfect. Or so it seemed.

*Photos taken by myself unless otherwise noted.

Hiking Oahu

The Hikers Guide to Oahu: Updated and Expanded (A Latitude 20 Book)
The Hikers Guide to Oahu: Updated and Expanded (A Latitude 20 Book)

The hikes on the rather small island of Oahu is varied and numerous. On my last trip, I went on three hikes, all different from one another. A collection of 52 trails that will take you through lush valleys, stunning waterfalls and remote seacoasts.

If you're an avid hiker, headed for the Hawaiian islands, this book will help you make the most of your trip.

 
Walking along the Ala Wai Canal in Waikiki
Walking along the Ala Wai Canal in Waikiki

Sunshine! We're Clear To Go!

We awoke to sunshine and were thrilled to see clear blue skies. After a quick smoothie breakfast, we boarded the bus that would take us directly to Manoa. Once we entered the valley, we started to take notice of the ominous clouds in he distance. About a minute later, it started to drizzle.

Thinking the clouds would dissipate soon, we continued onwards deeper into the valley. Upon arriving at our stop, it was starting to pour! Since we didn't really have a choice, we hopped off and stayed under the bus shelter to protect us from the rain.

For five minutes, the rain came down hard, making us wonder if we needed to postpone the hike. But it wasn't raining as hard now and thought we might as well try. Trying to focus on staying optimistic, we made our way through the drizzle to the entrance of the hiking trail.

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Entering Into Nature's Wonderland

Entrance to the Manoa Falls Hike
Entrance to the Manoa Falls Hike

After protecting ourselves with a good douse of insect repellant, we made our way through the nondescript entrance to the hike. After a few minutes of walking past beautiful flowers of Bird-of-Paradise and Ginger, we found ourselves in the midst of something out of a fairytale.

Possibly one of the most beautiful places I've seen, we were standing in the middle of an open field of huge trees, tropical flowers and singing birds all against a stunning backdrop of the mountains. I was in awe and wonder and could have stayed there all day long if not for the mosquitoes trying to find its way past my protective layer of insect repellant.

Staying Comfortable

Merrell Men's Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe,Walnut,11.5 M US
Merrell Men's Moab Ventilator Hiking Shoe,Walnut,11.5 M US

Choosing the proper shoes are essential for maximum comfort as well as safety.

The Merrell brand is known for their superior quality and craftsmanship when it comes to hiking shoes.

They are extremely comfortable and as I'm flat-footed, comfort is hard to come by. So far, nothing has surpassed the comfort I get from this pair.

 

Ready? Get set. Go!

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Graffiti and nature. What a combination.We encountered many strange and unique flowers on the hike.An expanse of lush green with the mountain in the background.The rainforest is unbelievably green and alive with life.Just follow the muddy dirt road.
Graffiti and nature. What a combination.
Graffiti and nature. What a combination.
We encountered many strange and unique flowers on the hike.
We encountered many strange and unique flowers on the hike.
An expanse of lush green with the mountain in the background.
An expanse of lush green with the mountain in the background.
The rainforest is unbelievably green and alive with life.
The rainforest is unbelievably green and alive with life.
Just follow the muddy dirt road.
Just follow the muddy dirt road.

Good Hiking Shoes for Women

Teva Women's Sky Lake Waterproof Hiking Shoe
Teva Women's Sky Lake Waterproof Hiking Shoe

An avid hiker friend of mine swears by these and she should know as I don't hike as much as she does.

Some of the features include a waterproof membrane and is crafted of a combination of leather and fabric. I think the pink trimmings on the shoe make it stylish as well as functional.

 

Be Careful Not To Slip

For the next 30 minutes, we took it at a slow pace. Although the hike is an easy one, the dirt roads are slippery and wet, filled with water puddles to hop over as well as numerous natural obstacles such as rocks, fallen tree branches and extremely uneven terrain. One slip can ruin that Hawaiian t-shirt you just bought!

Keeping Your Hands Free For Safety

SNOWHALE Cycling Hiking Backpack Water-resistant Daypack FKC0618 (Pink)
SNOWHALE Cycling Hiking Backpack Water-resistant Daypack FKC0618 (Pink)

A backpack is a must-have, especially on a hike that can be muddy and slippery like Manoa Falls. I always make sure to bring one that has enough room for essentials like water, insect repellant and snacks.

 

Mushrooms and Graffiti in the Forest

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Wild mushrooms growing on the tree trunks.The leaves of the rainforest are wet and dewy after the rain.Sunlight trying to peek through the dense jungle.Natural gate built by Mother Nature.More graffiti can be found along the walk.
Wild mushrooms growing on the tree trunks.
Wild mushrooms growing on the tree trunks.
The leaves of the rainforest are wet and dewy after the rain.
The leaves of the rainforest are wet and dewy after the rain.
Sunlight trying to peek through the dense jungle.
Sunlight trying to peek through the dense jungle.
Natural gate built by Mother Nature.
Natural gate built by Mother Nature.
More graffiti can be found along the walk.
More graffiti can be found along the walk.

Mushroom Master Are You?

If you found mushrooms growing in the wild, would you know if they're poisonous or not?

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The Final Stretch

Click thumbnail to view full-size
Branches twist and turn growing into each other.A fallen tree trunk.A stream flows alongside the hiking trail.I think we're almost there.Alas. We have arrived!
Branches twist and turn growing into each other.
Branches twist and turn growing into each other.
A fallen tree trunk.
A fallen tree trunk.
A stream flows alongside the hiking trail.
A stream flows alongside the hiking trail.
I think we're almost there.
I think we're almost there.
Alas. We have arrived!
Alas. We have arrived!

Behold! The Spectacular Manoa Falls!

manoa falls
manoa falls

Taking shorts rests at regular intervals allowed us to take in the lushness of this Hawaiian rainforest. As we passed streams, guava trees and the tangled branches of ancient trees, we finally arrived at our final destination.

There in front of us stood Manoa Falls and it was a sight to see. The morning rain made the water flow stronger than I'd ever seen it and although this wasn't my first visit to the falls, I'd never seen it flowing this intense.

Now That You Know About Manoa Falls...

Is this something you'd like to do on your holiday in Honolulu?

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Just a Hop, Skip and a Jump Away from the City

manoa falls foliage
manoa falls foliage

Located just a stone's throw away from hustle and bustle of the city, standing in the lush rainforest of Manoa Valley is mind-blowing to say the least. The air is wetter and the temperature is cooler compared to the city. The intense green that surrounds you as the cool wind blows through your hair, it's hard to imagine a bustling city exists just 20 minutes away.

If you enjoyed this article, please leave me a comment below. Thanks for reading!

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    • smine27 profile image
      Author

      Shinichi Mine 2 years ago from Tokyo, Japan

      Thanks so much!

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 2 years ago from Chicago Area

      Beautiful photos! Thanks for sharing this spot with us!

    • MelRootsNWrites profile image

      Melody Lassalle 2 years ago from California

      This is absolutely beautiful. In my pre-arthritis days, I would have taken up the challenge for a hike like this. I love waterfalls and your photos are inviting.

    • SandyMertens profile image

      Sandy Mertens 2 years ago from Frozen Tundra

      So beautiful. I would love to hike through there.

    • ecogranny profile image

      Kathryn Grace 2 years ago from San Francisco

      Thank you for all the photographs of your hike. The falls are gorgeous and appear to come straight down from a great height. Must be amazing to stand nearby and feel the mist.

      Incidentally, I have difficult-to-fit feet, and I always found Merrills the best hiking boots, when I could still hike up and down mountains like that.

    • Snakesmum profile image

      Jean DAndrea 2 years ago from Victoria, Australia

      It looks like a beautiful place to visit, but I have a question : Are there leeches? I hate leeches, and it IS rainforest. Guess I'd need leech repellent as well as insect repellent. Love your photos of the track to the falls, and the falls themselves.

    • stereomike83 profile image

      stereomike83 2 years ago from UK

      We only managed to have three nights in Honolulu when we visited Hawaii so didn't have the opportunity to do hikes like this. However, we keep saying one day we WILL return so will have to do this then as the falls look lovely!

    • CherylsArt profile image

      Cheryl Paton 3 years ago from West Virginia

      I enjoyed my picturesque travel through your pictures. Such a wonderful trip.

    • profile image

      RyanViola 3 years ago

      Pictures are astounding & beautiful!!!

    • profile image

      upsburienstore 3 years ago

      What a wonderful place, sorry I missed it on my last visit, I will now remember thanks to your great pictures.

    • DawnRae64 profile image

      Dawn 3 years ago from Maryland, USA

      Smine, Thank you so much! You take me places I would probably never have known about otherwise. Wonderful photos. I almost feel as though I've been there now.

    • Rhonda Lytle profile image

      Rhonda Lytle 3 years ago from Deep in the heart of Dixie

      The pictures are stunning. The tourist board should pay you. Beautiful!

    • Minoru10 profile image

      Michael Yoshinaka 3 years ago from Honolulu, Hawaii

      Hey, maybe next time I'll go with you. Got to get myself prepared though and get a new backpack

      and shoes.

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 3 years ago from New York City

      Another nice vicarious experience, a chance to get a feel for somewhere I may never travel. Thanks.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 3 years ago

      Wowzers, I need to go to Hawaii sometime. One of the top places on my list of places to visit that I've never been.

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 3 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Such a gorgeous hike! Thanks for sharing with us!

    • Brite-Ideas profile image

      Barbara Tremblay Cipak 3 years ago from Toronto, Canada

      absolutely beautiful! Would love to do this!

    • Diana Wenzel profile image

      Renaissance Woman 3 years ago from Colorado

      Thanks for giving me the gift of this virtual time in paradise. It means there is no risk of me ruining that new virtual t-shirt from Hawaii. :-)

    • Jerzimom profile image

      Cheryl Fay Mikesell 3 years ago from Ladysmith, WI

      Amazing tour hike. Thanks for share it. Beautiful!

    • Merrci profile image

      Merry Citarella 3 years ago from Oregon's Southern Coast

      You are back! The falls and the hike look so inviting, Smine27. Wonderful photos, from the green lushness to the towering trees. You always manage to make us feel we are there with you. Enjoyed the hike!

    • DreyaB profile image

      DreyaB 3 years ago from France

      I always love your trips and they're usually to places I will probably never get to in my life, so that makes them extra special. Your photos made me feel the atmosphere and lushness of the surroundings on your hike. I also have to agree that Merrell walking boots are particularly comfortable. I'm looking forward to owning another pair once I need to replace my existing boots. Thanks for sharing your hike with us. :0)

    • profile image

      ColettaTeske 3 years ago

      Thank you for the wonderful tour through Manoa Valley and up to Manoa Falls. I didn't do much sightseeing on Oahu when I lived on the Big Island but I did see some spectacular sights. The Islands, no matter which one you visit, are all beautiful. I miss Hawaii!