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About Hawaii: Manoa Falls trail review

While staying in Waikiki, Honolulu, a popular day trip is to go up to the Manoa valley and walk up to see the waterfall there. It wasn’t the highlight of my Hawaii trip, but it was enjoyable.

Getting there/away:

By public transport, the way to get there is from a bus number 5 departing from Ala Moana shopping centre, the buses leave on the side away from the beach/away from the food court on the other side of the car park. Allow about four hours for this walk, including time to/from Ala Moana shopping centre. There are quite a few buses that go from Waikiki to Ala Moana – 19,20 and 8 are quite regular (every 10 or so minutes).

For departure times of bus 5  to Manoa valley see this link (they are not too frequent):

Currently (as at August 2011), single fares are $2.50, cash only accepted. You can only buy single fares, unless you do the 4 day unlimited transport for $25. In the USA, most buses have machines by the driver where you slot your notes or drop your coins into. Request a transfer ticket and check the time the driver has given you, you should get about a 2 hour transfer period. You can use this as your return ticket if you manage to time it well with the next return buses (they go every 40 or so minutes, check the link above).

Take the bus all the way to the last stop. It’s not too well signed, but follow the small street to the left as you get off the bus, in the same direction of travel as the bus. It’ll curve around and after 5 minutes you will reach the base car park of the waterfalls where there is cafe/restaurant if you’re hungry before or after.

Manoa valley, view from the street after you get off the bus and walk up the small curved street


There is a hose in the car park on one side to clean off your shoes and legs after the muddy walk!

Manoa falls trail

The walk itself is about 40 mins one way at a moderate pace. There isn’t much space to rest or hang around the waterfalls when you reach it, so most people turn around after taking a few snaps as there’s usually more people coming up the trail.

The trail starts a few minutes walk away from the car park, not well signed if you go left at this point you head up to the Lyon Aboretum, otherwise follow the small sign to the right through the wired fence to start the trail to the falls.


Shortly after the entrance, there are some eco-friendly toilets. You enter/exit the same way so if you need to go later on, this is the only toilet stop on the trail – so you’ll have to wait until your return.

Toilet stop

Manoa valley and the Manoa falls trail is in a very lush green setting. The vibrancy of the greeness is just amazing and so enjoyable.

Part of the trail

The beginning of the trail is quite flat and smooth. The trail is a natural path and is very jungle like. As it rains quite often in Hawaii, there are always mosquitoes about.

Also due to the rain, the trail can be quite slippery and muddy after the smooth start.

The trail walk is quite enjoyable, but you must be prepared for the natural path and muddiness! Good sturdy shoes and a good sense of balance is required! I did it in my thongs/flip fops/sandals, but I’m used to hiking in them.

Most people were quite muddy by the time they reached the falls!

The steps here were steel, and covered in mud it became quite slippery – although the roots themselves are quite spectacular! This is about the mid-3/4 point in the hike, you’re almost there!

the falls

I found the falls themselves, not the highlight. The trail/hike was very enjoyable, but I wouldn’t say that the falls themselves were worth the hike. The journey itself was worth it!

Also, please respect the signs and stay behind the fence! I don’t know why so many tourists chose to ignore the safety signs.

Enjoy the falls, recommended to get out of Waikiki for a few hours, it’s not far away! Worth the trip if you can combine it with Lyon Aboretum.

Cost: Free (except the bus fare)!


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