There is no shortage of waterfalls on O’ahu, but Waimano Falls takes the cake for being the best waterfall on the island.
Waimano Falls Trail is short and sweet, lush and green, and packed with adventure. While the trail to the falls is nothing special, the two waterfalls marking the end of the trek are incredible.
The hike to the falls is primarily all downhill so prepare to slip and slide your way to the bottom. By the time you make it to the waterfalls, you’ll most likely be covered in mud with even more reason to jump in.
There are several other incredible falls around the island, such as Lulumahu Falls and Manoa Falls, but none are as fun as Waimano Falls.
In this guide, I cover what to expect hiking Waimano Falls Trail, getting to the trailhead, why it’s the best hike on O’ahu, and other great waterfalls to check out on the island.
Table of Contents
Guide to Hiking Waimano Falls Trail on O’ahu, Hawai’i
Waimano Falls Trails Stats
Distance: 3 miles
Elevation Gain: 810 feet
Time: 1-2 hours (not including time at the falls)
Know Before You Go
Waimano Falls Directions and Parking
Waimano Falls is located in Pearl City and is easy to locate.
From Pearl City, take Kuala Street to Waimano Home Road. From there, turn left on Komo Mai Drive and follow this road until it dead-ends at the trailhead.
There is no designated parking for Waimano Falls Trail. All hikers must find street parking along Komo Mai Drive. Please be cognizant of the fact that you are parking in a neighborhood, and be respectful of residents.
Do not block driveways or be disruptive when heading to the trailhead. As with all hikes in Hawai’i, do not leave any valuables in your car as theft is not unlikely.
How long does it take to hike to Waimano Falls?
The hike to Waimano Falls is relatively short. Hiking to the falls can take as little as 30 minutes and the trail is almost entirely downhill. While the downhill sounds nice, prepare for the trail to be both muddy and slippery, likely adding some time to the trek.
How much time you spend at the bottom is up to you. We like to enjoy the waterfall and therefore spend as much as an hour at the base.
As for the return hike, make sure to allot more time. With nearly every step being uphill, the climb out gets tiring regardless of its short distance.
All in all, expect to spend anywhere from 1.5-3 hours hiking and enjoying Waimano Falls.
Is Waimano Falls Trail Hard?
Again, the trail is short in distance and doesn’t involve any technical aspects to it. While AllTrails classifies Waimano Falls Trail as Hard, I personally do not think it warrants a difficult trail rating. Especially when hikes like Pu’u Konahuanui Peak Trail and Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Loop Trail receive the same rating, and rightfully so.
The trail is commonly wet making the trail slippery. Since the first half of the trail is primarily downhill, it can be awkward to navigate but it’s not hard.
The climb back to the car is what gives Waimano Falls Trail the Hard rating on AllTrails but don’t let this deter you. If you can walk uphill for a sustained period of time, even if you need to take several breaks, you can do this trail.
Just prepare to be out of breath.
Can You Cliff Jump at Waimano Falls?
Heck yes! You can cliff jump at Waimano Falls and it’s one of the primary reasons we love this waterfall so much and it’s at the top of our list for best waterfalls on O’ahu.
Hugging the left side of the lower waterfall is a small social trail. This trail leads you to the small platform where you can jump about __ feet into the fall.
Please understand that you are jumping at your own risk and should always check the depth of the water before jumping. We have hiked to Waimano Falls on several occasions when the water was not deep enough to jump.
If the waterfall is flowing and the pool is full, you’re in luck.
Is There a Rope Swing At Waimano Falls?
Just when you think Waimano Falls can’t get any better, it does. Not only are there spots to jump from at the falls there is also a rope swing.
it can be a little tricky getting the rope over to the rock ledge where you swing from, but once you figure out the process you’re in for a treat.
Again, make sure to always check the ropes before relying on them and the depth of the water before jumping.
When Is the Best Time to Visit Waimano Falls
While the wet season on Oahu can sometimes seem disheartening, it’s the best time of year to explore waterfall hikes. The rainy season on O’ahu occurs between November and March. During this time of year, rain is likely.
More rain means more water cascading down the waterfalls scattered around the island. These are not the only months you can complete this hike, but it’s likely that during this time Waimano Falls will be its most beautiful.
While rainy days may seem like a weird time to hit the trail, they are the perfect time to visit waterfalls — especially Waimano Falls. You want the water to be flowing and the pool to be deep so you can jump in and enjoy the waterfall.
With that being said, O’ahu has a tropical climate so it also rains even in the “dry” season. Check the weather and, if possible, choose a rainy day or rainy week to visit Waimano Falls.
What to Expect Hiking to Waimano Falls
If you’re looking for the ultimate waterfall adventure while visiting O’ahu, look no further than Waimano Falls Trail. The trail is suitable for most hikers, fun, and filled with adventure.
The trail rewards hikers with, not just one but two, gorgeous waterfalls in which you can jump, swing, and swim. Allot at least one to two hours for the adventure.
There is no designated parking for Waimano Falls. Look for parking along Komo Mai Drive and, as I mentioned earlier, make sure to be respectful of residents when doing so.
Waimano Falls is a popular hike and is likely to be busy. Plan to arrive early to avoid a busy trail and limited parking.
Once you park, head to the end of Komo Mai Drive. At the dead end, you will see a trail gate and trail sign indicating the start of the Waimano Falls Trail.
The trail begins mellow and remains relatively flat for the first half mile or so. While the trail gradually rolls and gains slightly in elevation it’s nothing too taxing.
Around the one-mile mark, however, you hit the downhill section. For the remainder of the trail to the waterfalls you are maneuvering down steep, muddy, and slippery terrain.
Again, the terrain isn’t technical just awkward. Most of the trail is a mix of pavement, gravel, mud, and exposed roots. Mix in wet conditions and the descent becomes comical.
Make sure to remain on the designated trail at all times. While it can be tempting to divert off-trail to avoid puddles, doing so is harmful to the area and creates erosion. Getting covered in mud is half the fun of hiking on O’ahu, embrace it.
After about half a mile of fumbling your way downhill, you’ll get your first glimpse of the falls. Continue following the trail down and you will eventually come upon the lower falls pool.
The lower waterfall is our favorite part of Waimano Falls Trail because of the view of the upper waterfall, the swimming hole, the cliff jumping access, and the rope swing.
Again, make sure to check the water levels and conditions of the ropes before sending it. Also, expect the water to be freezing — but go in anyway.
Don’t forget to pack your suit and towel for this adventure.
From the lower waterfall, you can see the upper waterfall. To access the second waterfall, follow a social trail to the left. This path will lead you to a small cliff where you’ll find a rope attached. Carefully use this rope to repel down into the base of the waterfall.
The upper fall is beautiful and much larger. There isn’t much of a swimming hole but on a good day, you can get about waist-deep if you wade all the way under the waterfall.
Make sure to be aware of falling rocks and debris falling from the top if venturing under the falls.
We’ve only experienced both waterfalls completely alone once. Waimano Falls Trail is popular and for good reason. Expect there to be others enjoying the views and water as well.
Be respectful of other hikers, share the water, and spread aloha, always.
Other Amazing Waterfalls to Check Out on Oahu
O’ahu has over 10 waterfall hikes around the island, all worth visiting. Below are four of my favorite waterfall adventures around the island.
If I had to choose another waterfall on O’ahu that always takes my breath away it would be Lulumahu Falls. The trail is a short two miles but absolutely filled with beauty. On a good day, the roar of the waterfall is powerful and invigorating. Even from several feet back, you can feel the mist of the falls.
Vibrant green plants and mosses surround the falls as a result of the constant mist. While Lulumahu Falls doesn’t have a swimming hole, it’s a beautiful sight to just stand in silence and soak in.
Unfortunately, Maunawili Falls is currently closed for restoration and is slated to remain closed until 2024.
With that being said, when the trail does finally open again it would be our second pick for the most fun waterfall on O’ahu, second only to Waimano Falls. Maunawili Falls isn’t necessarily a large waterfall but it has a big swimming hole with several cliff-jumping opportunities.
The trail itself while only three miles is also lush and beautiful, with vining greens around every bend. The only downfall to Maunawili Falls is the overcrowdedness of the trail — hence the restoration project.
Waipuilani Falls is one of the lesser-known falls on the island. The trail is overgrown and hard to follow at times, but the uniqueness of the two waterfalls awaiting hikers at the end of the trail is worth the adventure.
The trail is short like the others at two miles. This hike is best to do on a wet and rainy day to ensure there is water flowing. What makes this waterfall stand out is the cave situated between the two cascading falls.
Manoa Falls is the classic, OG waterfall on O’ahu. The waterfall is undeniably gorgeous and can be accessed by hikers of all ages and experience levels. The trail is a short 1.7 miles but is breathtaking.
The scenery that comes to mind when you think “Hawai’i jungle,” Manoa Falls Trail delivers. The trail is mellow and green and ends at a 150 feet cascading waterfall.
Are you planning a trip to O’ahu? If you have any questions about hiking Waimano Falls Trails or any other hikes around the island, leave me a comment in the section below. Also, make sure to check out my other O’ahu adventure guides when planning your trip.
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