Cascading 150 feet and surrounded by lush tropical greenery, Manoa Falls is one of Honolulu's most popular natural attractions. And for good reason - it's breathtaking!
While the majestic falls draw in myriad tourists year-round, the nearby Lyon Arboretum – which houses over 5000 plant species – helps make this attraction even more unique and worthy of a day trip adventure.
You will find below all you need to know about Manoa Waterfall, one of the most fascinating destinations for day trips from Oahu.
Less than six miles north of the Waikiki shoreline, the Manoa Waterfall is located in the Manoa Valley, within easy striking distance of all of the major Honolulu and Waikiki hotels and attractions.
The waterfall is accessed via a pleasant 2.5-mile (4-kilometer) hiking route that climbs gradually through a verdant rainforest full of bamboo, hanging vines, and plenty of flora and fauna.
If you're staying in the Honolulu/Waikiki area, the drive to the Manoa Waterfall trailhead is a relatively quick and easy one. Simply head north from the coastline and follow signs for Manoa Road. Once you're here, it's straight up until you reach the trailhead and Arboretum entrance – just past the Honolulu Pineapple Co. should you want a snack en route.
All up, the drive should take no longer than 25-30 minutes.
If you're staying anywhere else on the island, you'll need to drive down to Honolulu and then connect to Manoa Road, as the trailhead access is one-way.
Reaching the Manoa Waterfall by public transport is rather straightforward. Hop on the #5 bus, which departs from the Ala Moana Center, and ride it all the way until the last stop at Manoa Rd + Opp Kumuone St.
From here, it's about a 1.1-mile, 30-minute walk to the trailhead.
Oahu's award-winning bus system is reliable and frequent, with dozens of routes making their way to Honolulu and the Ala Moana Center from around the island.
The bus journey should take no more than 30 minutes, plus any additional time to get to Honolulu if you're staying outside of the main areas.
Certainly the most convenient option, there are a number of guided tours that make their way to the Manoa Waterfall each day, offering hassle-free pickup from Waikiki and Honolulu.
While you'll be sharing the experience with other tourists (unless you book a private tour), everything is taken care of for you – from air-conditioned transport (usually car or minivan) to lunch and your guide – so all you need to do is sit back and enjoy the adventure.
The tours pick up from Waikiki and Honolulu hotels, as well as the Ala Moana Center, typically at around 8 AM, allowing for maximum time at the hike itself.
The most basic guided tours are shuttle only, taking you to and from the falls. For those looking for something more extensive, you'll find a variety of multi-stop tour options that also include stops at other impressive natural landmarks along Oahu's Windward Coast.
There is no fee to hike to the falls. However, if you're driving your own car, expect to pay $7 ($4 for military) if you choose to park in the lot at the start of the trail.
If you pay to visit the Manoa Waterfall, you will be paying for your transport, guide, lunch, and/or additional activities, not the waterfall or hike itself.
A Manoa Waterfall day trip in Oahu typically starts with a convenient pickup from your hotel, presuming that you're staying in the main tourist zones of Honolulu or Waikiki.
From here, it's a short drive to the falls in the comfort of an air-conditioned jeep or minivan (depending on your chosen trip), with your guide pointing out key landmarks and sharing interesting facts and stories along the way.
Upon arrival at the trailhead, you'll start your hike through the verdant rainforest towards the falls themselves. The journey takes around an hour each way; if you choose a self-guided option, you can stop as many times as you like along the way, while guided hikes will have a more set pace.
After reaching the falls and taking some time to enjoy the environment, you'll begin your return journey back to the trailhead via the same path you arrived on.
If you're on a shuttle-only tour, you'll be dropped back off at your hotel after the hike. Multi-stop tours will often include lunch or a visit to another nearby attraction before returning you to your hotel in the late afternoon or early evening.
You have a variety of tour options available to you if you want to visit the Manoa Waterfall in Oahu, ranging from simple 2-hour guided hikes to all-day affairs that stop and a handful of other attractions in the area.
The most basic is a shuttle-only tour, which will take you from your hotel to the falls and back again. These tours are typically shorter and more affordable than others, and give you the opportunity for a self-guided hike.
The middle-tier option is a guided hike of the Manoa Waterfall. Like the basic shuttle option, these tours include transport to and from the falls, but also come with a guide who will take you on a tour of the falls themselves. With the guide on hand, you'll have the chance to learn all about the falls and the history surrounding them as you hike.
An excellent option for those who prefer to ditch the tourist crowds and have a more intimate experience is a private tour. These can be customized to your own preferences, and can even include stops at other attractions in the area.
If you want to make a day of it, there are multi-stop private tour options too, which can be a combination of the other tour types mentioned.
You will have your own local and knowledgeable private guide that can share insights about the falls and teach you about the native wildlife throughout the region.
If you're looking for something more comprehensive, you can choose a multi-stop tour that includes other natural landmarks in the area, like the beaches of the eastern Windward Coast, for example.
These tours are typically longer, and will include lunch or another activity (like spending time at the beach or a stop to try some traditional Hawaiian shave ice dessert) before returning you to your hotel in the afternoon or evening.
A great opportunity to feel the wind in your hair as you zip through Oahu's lush landscapes, a day tour to the Manoa Waterfall with an e-bike ride is a fantastic way to see the island in two very different, complementary ways.
These adventures start with a brief riding walkthrough in Waikiki in the morning to ensure you're confident on two wheels before making the scenic drive to the mountains and the trailhead.
After tackling the trial and admiring the falls, you'll zoom past the University of Hawaii at Manoa Campus on the way back with a chance to pop into the UofH book store for souvenirs before tucking into a well-deserved feed at the Off the Hook Poke Market.
The meeting point is the Kuhio Village Tower in the center of Honolulu; hotel pickup is usually not included, however, you can contact the organizers in advance to make arrangements.
Prices for a tour to the Manoa Waterfall depend on a few factors, including the type of tour, number of people, and whether transportation is included.
A basic shuttle-only tour starts at around US$60 per person, which includes pick-up and drop-off from your Waikiki/Honolulu hotel.
A guided hike with a local guide starts at around US$40 per person without transport, or between US$80 and US$100 with transport included.
A private tour starts at around US$150, with prices increasing to more than US$400 depending on the number of stops and length of the tour – however, keep in mind that these are usually per vehicle, not per person, so if traveling as a group, this tour can work out to be very good value.
Finally, a day tour that includes the Manoa Waterfall plus another activity, like an e-bike ride or visit to the Windward Coast, starts at around US$150 per person.
The main attraction on a Manoa Waterfall day tour is, of course, the waterfall itself. The falls are located in the Manoa Valley on the island of Oahu, and can be reached via a short hike through the rainforest, around 45 minutes to 1 hour.
Regardless of which Manoa Waterfall day trip option you choose, you'll enjoy a hike to the falls, and have plenty of time to appreciate the pool at the base of the falls, take photos, and relax in this idyllic valley setting which appeared in movies like Jurassic Park.
If you choose a day tour that includes other activities, like an e-bike ride, lunch, or visit to the Windward Coast, you'll also get to see and do more of what Oahu has to offer.
For example, on a Manoa Waterfall day tour with an e-bike ride, you'll start your day with a brief walkthrough in Waikiki with a chance to soak up some of the local urban scenery before going to the trailhead.
If you choose an East Coast and Manoa Waterfall combo tour, you'll get to see the sun-kissed Windward Coast beaches, learn about the local flora and fauna from your knowledgeable guide, visit the Tantalus viewpoint with an excellent sunset spot, and admire Diamond Head. Depending on your tour, you might also have lunch at a local restaurant or cafe, and try some authentic Hawaiian Shave Ice.
Being a natural attraction, the Manoa Waterfall is open all year round. However, access to the falls may be closed temporarily after heavy rains or flooding – so always check conditions before you go.
If you're driving in your own vehicle, be aware that the parking lot is open from 8 AM to 6 PM daily.
The best time of year to visit the Manoa Waterfall, and Oahu in general, is between April and November when the weather is dry and sunny, and there's less chance of rain and therefore landslides. December to March is the wet season, and while you might still get lucky with some good weather, there's a greater chance of showers.