2 Waterfall Hikes


Waimano Waterfall following Manana Trail

To get up close to the “real” Oahu, you have to leave Waikiki and the sandy beaches and go where the locals live. This trail begins at the end of a residential street. Those of us from places of “limited free parking” know that it can be dangerous to park in front of someone’s home. Here, though, if you carefully avoid driveways and fire hydrants, the parking is free and the hike is well worth the effort.
Tim and I, along with Glenn and Denise, were the resident adults for the hike and we had four enthusiastic teens making the trek along with us. I think the draw was to be able to jump into the pools at the bottom of a waterfall; I’m pretty certain the girls didn’t think it was going to be strenuous. Everyone wore tennis shoes and plenty of bug spray. In fact, our family packed a pair of old shoes to leave behind in Hawaii once the hiking was over. The trail generally is not steep–but be warned that Cardiac Hill is not for the faint of heart. We did have a few wrong turns as the trail is not well-marked but by the time we could hear the water below us we simply used our ears to follow the whoops and hollers of others who had already discovered the falls. There are a total of three falls in a series but the first falls offers the best launching point for jumping in. There’s even a rope swing if you dare use it. Our girls watched some boys taking turns and established that the rope would hold them. One by one, each girl took the leap and managed to come bubbling back up to the top.

Maunawili Falls

Several days later, after some success with Diamond Head and the Pali Lookout, we decided to do the Maunawili Falls Hike. It was rated a doable 3 Stars for difficulty so we added to our ranks and enlisted William to join with the girls and 4 adults on the adventure. This hike was radically different from the Waimano Falls. For one, the island had experienced a ton of rain the day before; even though it looked all clear when we began, it wasn’t long before we noticed random flip-flops tossed along the trail and everything seemed to be caked with mud. Soon, we were walking in 5-6 inches of the gooey, sticky mess, telling ourselves all along, “Boy! That waterfall is going to feel great!” A hike that should take about an hour took us double the time. With every step, we were losing balance, falling into trees, rocks and eventually into the mud. What was most disconcerting were the hikers that we passed as they were returning from the falls. Seemingly out of nowhere, they walked by clean and fresh-smelling, one group was even walking with a 3 year old. And here we were…raggedy, smelly and super dirty. Once we found the falls it was a bit of a let-down. The water was super cold and the rocks we had to navigate to get into the water were slippery. But, the jump off the ledge into the water was thrilling. The kids did the jump several times…I did it once to just to say I did it. The walk back was as difficult as the walk in but the evidence at the end of the hike…our mud-covered bodies and tennis shoes… gave us some awesome bragging points.