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Manoa Falls

Information about the Manoa Waterfall in Honolulu, including a description of the falls, where it is located, how to drive there, the trail to the falls, and potential dangers in that area.

About the Manoa Falls
The Manoa Falls are located in the Manoa Valley at the base of the Koolau Mountains on the Honolulu side. The waterfall has two water drops, and different reports say it is anywhere from 90 to 150 feet tall.

About the Trail ot the Manoa Falls
The Manoa Falls trail is less then a mile in length and the hike typically takes about two hours round trip. It is a point to point trail so after you reach the falls you will turn around and hike back on the same way. The trail to the falls winds through a tropical rainforest full of giant ferns, wild ginger, guava trees, and bamboo groves. This hike is often muddy and slippery because the Manoa Valley gets a lot of rain. It is not a difficult hike, but on some parts of the trail you will be walking on boulders and tree roots, so wear shoes with firm soles and take care not to slip in those areas. Much of the trail is uphill when you are hiking toward the falls. The trail runs along a stream the entire time, so keep that in mind if you are not sure in which direction to walk. The stream will always be on your right. The Manoa Falls are are the end of the trail. The size and power of the flow varies depending on the rain conditions.

How to Get There
From Waikiki, take Ala Wai Boulevard to McCully, to Metcalf Street, to University Avenue. Turn left onto University Avenue. Drive past the University of Hawaii. (somehow from here you want to get to Manoa Road). Walk to the end of the road and follow the path to the right that leads over a small footbridge. This area is the trailhead for three different trails The Manoa Falls Trail, the Luaalaea Trail, and the Aihualama Trail.

Where to Park
You can usually park on the street at the end of Manoa Valley Drive but some people don't recommend it, because while the Manoa Valley is a very safe area, any parking lot frequented by tourists is a target for people looking for cars to break into. If you don't want to park at the dead end area, you can pay a small amount to park in the Lyon Aboretum lot (ask at their gift shop), or you can park farther away in the neighborhood and walk to the trail. You use to be able to park in the lot for the now closed Paradise Park, but I don't think that is an option any more.

What to Bring
Bug repellant, sunscreen lotion, drinking water, and shoes with firm, non-slippery soles that are suitable for hiking. Also bring a light rain pancho if you are concerned about getting wet if it rains (it rains frequently in the Manoa Valley).

When you are viewing the falls, be on the lookout for rocks and boulders falling from above, especially after a heavy rain. It's best to avoid hiking this trail immediately after a hard rain, because of falling rocks and because the trail footing can be muddy and slippery when wet and the stream can get very full after a hard rain. On the other hand, the waterfall is most impressive after a hard rain. Get advice from local experts before you decide to hike to the Manoa Falls when it's raining or after a hard rain. The area can be hot and humid so bring plenty of water.

Can You Swim Under the Falls?
Some travel guides recommend swimming in the cold and refreshing pool at the bottom of the the falls but some say the water in the stream and in the pool under the waterfall is infected with the leptospirosis bacteria. Again, ask the local experts if it is OK to swim under the falls. If you do decide to swim, keep a lookout for boulders falling from above.

The Trail Was in a Jurrasic Park Movie
The Manoa Valley Trail was featured in the Steven Spielberg movie, The Lost World: Jurrasic Park".

The Stream Along the Trail
Some articles about this trail refer to it as the Manoa Stream, some call it the Waihi Stream, and some call it the Aihualama Stream, so I am not sure which name is the most correct.

From Other Web Sites
- Article About the Manoa Falls - by Jenny Lee
- Tour Firm Faces Fine for Manoa Falls Hike
- Hawaii Web - Manoa Falls
- Local Hikes - Manoa Falls
- Backyard Oahu - Manoa Falls Trail

See also:
- The Manoa Valley

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