Waikiki to Manoa Falls – the long route

It’s Sunday, and the bus schedule is set to sluggish. My phone informs me that it’s a one and a half hour walk to Manoa Falls from the outskirts of Waikiki.

“Pah”, I think. “It can’t possibly take that long”.

90 rather dreary minutes of tramping through residential areas later, I reach the trail head. A man does a double take as I pass his family  – they inform me that they’d seen me leaving Waikiki. While I’d been trudging up the hill, they’d gone to Walmart, had a leisurely shop, picked up their uncle, driven to the trail, paid $5 to park and started hiking. I was either a superhero, or insane for walking. Possibly both.

The walk to the Falls themselves takes all of about 10 minutes (15 if you include trying to pass tourists wearing kitten heels and leaving a vapour trail of Chanel behind them). It’s a pretty path though, if you can overlook the fact that invasive species have got the upper hand here. The slopes of the valley are decked in Australian Tree Ferns, African Tulips, Umbrella Trees and Bamboo.

The path ends in a sheer rock face, 150ft high.The falls cling to it, sliding down like an outsized water feature, and ending in a clear pool, where, despite the signs to keep out, two blond women are stripping down to their undies and getting in the way of everyone’s photos / making their day, depending on your point of view / gender.

There’s another trail , the Aihualama, leading off to the left of the falls. As I set off along it, a hardcore hiker passes me, looking cross. No, he says, it isn’t a loop. Nor does it have an end… it simply turns into other trails further along. And although it seems unlikely, he claims there are no good view points. I trundle through the dense bamboo anyway, but after 30 minutes of walking, all I’ve seen is more bamboo and a grove of spectacular banyan trees. If you’re not foolish enough to have already walked from Waikiki, you might want to fact check the huffiest hiker in Honolulu using this handy map from DLNR http://dlnr.hawaii.gov/recreation/files/2013/09/Oahu-Hiking-Map_HonoluluMaukaTrailsSystem.pdf

In summary:

  1. this is a great hike for families (and there were lots of children dangling off parents’ arms in states varying from childlike rapture to full on wailing). Mine will be joining them next time we’re here. The level of enthusiasm will probably depend upon the size of the sweet bag I have with me.
  2. your phone will guide you to the trail head if you type “Manoa Falls Trail” into maps.
  3. the bus gets very close and is worth catching, but beware the Sunday schedule
  4. The Lyon Arboretum is also up this way but is sadly shut on Sundays.
  5. Don’t walk from Waikiki.



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