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the 17 Best Waterfalls in Oahu
Looking for the best waterfalls in Oahu? You’re in luck; that’s what we’re going to discuss today!
Oahu, the third largest island in Hawaii, is a true paradise for waterfall lovers. With lush rainforests, dramatic cliffs, and cascading falls, Oahu offers a unique natural beauty that is hard to find anywhere else.
Today we’ll take you on a journey to explore the 17 best waterfalls in Oahu, from the popular tourist spots to the hidden gems off the beaten path. Get ready to be mesmerized by the power and beauty of these natural wonders!
The best waterfalls in Oahu
Here are the best waterfalls in Oahu, listed in no particular order.
Please keep in mind that as a Hawaii Travel Agent, I am strongly against trespassing and irresponsible tourism. I try to keep this website as updated as possible, but please ensure that accessing a waterfall is both safe and legal before attempting to do so.
Property can be sold at any time, and sometimes weather conditions make visiting certain areas unsafe. Always do your own research and be mindful of weather conditions.
Now, let’s get to some of the favorite hikes on the beautiful island of Oahu.
You will find Waimea Falls on the north shore of Oahu. You may also hear this beautiful waterfall referred to as Waihi Falls.
While this is one of the more accessible waterfalls in Oahu, it is not the best for everyone. The paved trail is wide. Yet, it can be steep. Therefore, people in wheelchairs, or those with mobility concerns, may have an issue despite the paved road.
This waterfall in Oahu is 45 feet high. It is possible to jump down into the pool of water below. It is best to check the depth of the water, as well as the conditions, before jumping. If you arrive in Oahu during a dry season, the water may not be as deep.
Feel free to swim at the pool below Waimea Falls. Lifeguards are on duty at this pool. There is also a changing room if you don’t wear your bathing suit on the hike on the back trail.
There is so much more to do near this best waterfall in Oahu. Hike along the Waimea Valley Trail to see botanical gardens and historical sites.
There is a fee to enter Waimea Valley Park. The ticket prices are dependent on your age.
Waimea Bay Beach Park is nearby too. It is another wonderful place to swim if the waterfall is too busy. If you are looking for a great way to relax in Oahu, Waimea Falls may be the answer.
Likeke Falls is also called the Old Pali Highway Falls. This is one of the easily accessible waterfalls in Oahu.
You will want to park your car at the Pali Lookout parking lot. That will allow you to access the trailhead to Li’keke Falls quickly. Plus, there is no parking fee.
You can also choose to park at the Ko’olau Golf Club. It is only a short distance to the waterfall from the golf course. So, if you are looking for easy access, and a quick hike, choose to start here.
The water from the falls comes from the Ko’olau mountain range. That means the water is always flowing at this waterfall in Oahu.
The locals hike this trail all the time. They will always be prepared for the trail conditions if you aren’t. However, it is best to wear good hiking boots in case the trail gets slick from rain. You should also take bottles of water, a raincoat, and bug spray.
Yes, the mosquitos are that bad on this trail!
There are other trails nearby, too if you find you have extra time after seeing the waterfall. Those trails are Pali Notches and Pali Puka. Those hikes are best completed near sunset.
One of the amazing waterfalls off the Pali Highway is Lulumahu Falls. The short hike only takes approximately 30 minutes. It isn’t really that long to walk to see one of the most popular old Pali Highway waterfalls.
Since this waterfall is on land owned by the Hawaii Department of Forestry and Wildlife, you must obtain a permit.
The trailhead has 2 entrances. Neither one is clearly marked. Don’t plan on finding them easily. However, once you get on the trail, it is clearly marked until you reach the waterfall.
Many people choose to spend half of a day at this waterfall. They spend that time swimming in the pool below the waterfall.
La’ie Falls is one of the least visited waterfalls in Oahu. That may be because you must hike 6 miles to the waterfall and then 6 miles back again.
You must also obtain a permit from the Hawaii Reserves Inc. office to hike to this waterfall.
There is a small pool under Laie Falls. This is one of the best hikes when you want views of the Pacific Ocean too.
You may want to choose this off-the-beaten-path adventure, because it will take your Oahu vacation to the next level. But only if you are up for one of the best waterfall hikes in Oahu.
Waipuhia Falls are sometimes called the Upside Down Falls. When strong winds blow, the water actually looks like it is flowing upwards. This is one of the most popular hikes in Oahu for unique sights.
You will find this waterfall just off the Pali Highway. The easy trail is navigable for many people.
The best time to visit is on a windy day. That is the only time you will have the chance to see the water flowing in the wrong direction!
A visit to the Lyon Arboretum will also have you seeing Aihualama Falls. The trail to the waterfall is 2 miles round trip.
The entire trail leads you through a lush forest. Amongst the forest, you will find signs that share information about the plants you see along the way.
The rainy season is the best time to see the natural beauty of the area. Plus, that is when the waterfall flows the best.
This is one of the easiest waterfalls to see in Oahu. I recommend adding it to your list of things to do if you want to see quite a bit in a short amount of time.
Hamama Falls is a waterfall located in Waihee Valley. In order to see this waterfall in Oahu, you must walk on government property. Therefore, a permit is needed before even considering walking on the trail.
The trail to Hamama Falls is 4 miles round trip. It can take between 1 and 2 hours to do the hike. Your total time would be dependent on how long you are at the waterfall.
It is currently listed that the trail to Hamama Falls is closed. If this waterfall is really on your to-do list, you can always check with the Board of the Water Supply Land to see if they are giving out permits.
One of the most popular waterfall hikes on Oahu is the one that leads to Kaipapau Falls. Yes, the trail is 8 miles round trip. And yes, you should be an experienced hiker to tackle this trail.
The trail will be rocky and slippery. You will need to cross a stream multiple times. Therefore, your socks and shoes will get wet. It is always best to be prepared when heading out to Kaipapau Falls.
Never attempt to tackle this hike to Kaipapau Falls during heavy rain. Flash flooding is always a concern.
All you need to do to reach Manoa Falls is hike along the Manoa Falls Trail. This is one of the 16 easy hikes in Oahu. It’s also a favorite for many visitors, perhaps because it leads to one of the best waterfalls on the island!
Or it could be due to the fact that a few scenes from Jurassic Park were filmed in areas around the Manoa Valley. Including throughout the bamboo forest and amongst the banyan trees.
The water from Manoa Falls cascades down 150 feet. The water is cold. However, it feels wonderful when you stand beneath it.
Most people will not swim in the pool underneath this waterfall. This is due to dangerous organisms that are usually present in the water.
The Maunawili Falls Trail will take you directly to this waterfall. The 2.5-mile hike will lead you through a tropical rainforest.
This is one of the busier Oahu waterfalls, especially on the weekends. It may even be busy during the week or on holidays since this is one of the most popular waterfalls on the island.
Cliff jumping is popular at Maunawili Falls. There are different heights for cliff jumping. I recommend checking to see how deep the water is before jumping. It is a good idea to check for any debris that could be in your way too.
This is a great place to visit when you only have time for a short drive from Waikiki. You get a beautiful hike on one of the Hawaiian Islands. A quick walk through a grove of fruit trees will be inspiring. Plus, you get gorgeous views of one of the best waterfalls in Oahu.
You must hike along the Waimano Falls Trail for 1.5 miles to reach Waimano Falls. That trail is also called the Manana Trail. The trailhead begins in a residential area. The hike usually takes about an hour each way.
This is an easy hike that will take you to a waterfall with two pools. Parts of the trail do have a steep climb. You will hear the waterfall before you actually see it from the trail.
You can swim in either of the pools before hiking back to your car and will also see a rope swing you can use to swing into the pool below.
Cliff jumping is an activity many people do at Waimano Falls. The distance for the jump is between 15 and 20 feet.
This may be one of the least popular waterfalls in Oahu. That doesn’t mean it is a waterfall that you should skip during your vacation in Oahu.
One of the most amazing waterfall hikes in Oahu is Kapena Falls. The Kapena Falls Trail begins right on Nuuanu Avenue. It is an easy stroll of less than a mile.
Kapena Falls is 15 feet high. The falls are powerful and drop down into a large swimming hole. This waterfall is surrounded by large tree roots, massive boulders, and hanging vines.
There used to be a rope swing at this best waterfall in Oahu. The rope swing is gone unless someone has found a way to replace it for people to use.
Jackass Ginger Pool
The Jackass Ginger Pool offers a small waterfall. This is another area that is best to visit during the rainy season. Heavy rainfall will ensure the waterfall is flowing and the pool is deep.
The deeper pool is a perfect spot for swimming, especially if you are with older children. If you have small children with you, take along life jackets to ensure they stay safe in the deeper water.
There are a few different ways to reach the Jackass Ginger Pool. You can easily access this swimming hole from the Pali Highway. You can also hike along the Nuuanu Trail or the Judd Trail.
Waikahalulu Falls can be found right in the heart of Downtown Honolulu. The gardens surrounding Waikahalulu Falls were named after Queen Lili’uokalan.
This waterfall is a perfect place for a picnic, especially since the area is not too far from the city.
There are so many great things to do near Waikahalulu Falls. Be prepared to stay for at least a couple of hours.
Koloa Gulch is located on private property. Therefore, you must receive permission and fill out a waiver before visiting.
There are multiple waterfalls located here. You will find them all at the end of the trail. It can get slippery as you walk down into the gulch. Wearing proper shoes will ensure you get to the bottom without any problems.
The best time to visit Koloa Gulch is during the month of September. This is when flowers cover all the bushes.
You must hike along the Ka’au Crater Trail to reach the First Waterfall. The hike will take you along Upper Palolo until you reach the waterfall.
You will cross a small stream a few times along the way. Most of the time, you will be sheltered from the sun. However, there are a few spots where you will be out in the open.
The First Waterfall is not a small waterfall. It is about 50 feet high. There is a good-sized pool underneath the falls.
I recommend taking a picnic lunch and enjoying it by the stream near the waterfall.
Sacred Falls used to be one of the hidden gems in Oahu. It is considered an impressive waterfall in Oahu.
The best way to see this waterfall is via helicopter. Hiking to the falls is way too dangerous. This is why it is currently illegal to hike to Sacred Falls.
The best waterfalls in Oahu
There you have it, the best waterfalls in Oahu. Did your favorite Oahu waterfall make the list? If not, share it in the comments below. Or, don’t, and keep it a secret. 🙂
More Oahu travel tips
Want even more ideas for things to do during your Oahu vacation? Check out:
- The 21 best beaches in Oahu
- 30 free things to do in Oahu
- 2-Day Oahu Itinerary
- The 30 best beaches in Hawaii
- What is the best luau in Oahu in 2023?
- The best Oahu snorkeling
Although I am a Hawaii Travel Agent, I am only taking on a few clients per month. You can contact me if you’d like more information. I recommend starting with my Hawaii travel guide if you plan to DIY your vacation!
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