If you want to vacation in a tropical paradise, then Hawaii is the destination for you. This chain of islands is home to stunning beaches, breathtaking views, and historical locations that are filled with culture.
Oahu is one of the largest islands in the chain, so there is plenty to see and do, making it a fun trip for the whole family.
If you choose to spend your next vacation in Oahu, you are in for a real treat. Not only does the island have breathtaking scenery, but its seas are also incredibly clear and blue.
The waterfalls of Oahu are what this island is most well known for though, as they cover the island, so there is plenty to explore. The number of waterfalls on the island changes throughout the year due to the changes in rainfall.
If you want to go on a waterfall tour of Oahu, then this is the list for you! We have rounded up the top 15 of the most stunning waterfalls that this island has to offer.
Keep reading to plan your dream vacation!
1. Aihualama Falls
Aihualama Falls is located directly within the Lyon Arboretum, and the walk that leads there and back has a total distance of four miles.
Aside from the lovely scenery that surrounds the route, there are also numerous signs along the way that give information to tourists about the varied flora and plants that can be found in Hawaii.
This not only makes for an enjoyable trip, but you also learn something on the way!
When it has recently rained, this waterfall will be at its most impressive, making it the ideal time to pay it a visit.
While this is one of the smaller waterfalls that can be found on the island, it is still a must-see site. It’s a magnificent adventure for individuals of all fitness levels, and it is one of the best and simplest waterfall hikes in Oahu.
2. Jackass Ginger Pool
While it may have a funny name, this waterfall is an attraction that you should make every effort to see. This is not because of the waterfall itself though, it’s because of the swimming hole underneath it.
This waterfall is rather little, reaching a maximum height of just around 10 feet, and it is recommended that people go there after it has recently rained because that is when they will be able to enjoy the full extent of the waterfall’s attractiveness.
The swimming hole at this waterfall is by far the most popular feature, and you’ll be able to get to it via the Pali Highway.
You may also travel to the pool along the Judd Trail or the Nuuanu Trail and refresh in the lovely waters there.
3. Koloa Gulch
This waterfall is a bit of a tricky one because this site is situated on private land. This means you will either need to fill out a waiver or obtain an invitation before you are allowed to visit.
Koloa Gulch is particularly well-known for the breathtaking beauty of its surroundings.
Koloa Gulch is home to a number of waterfalls and is an especially beautiful place to visit in September when most of the shrubs in the area are covered with blossoms.
When it starts to drop into the gulch, you need to exercise some caution since the track can become quite slippery if it has been raining recently.
Because your feet may likely become wet, you should bring along an additional pair of shoes and socks just in case.
The journey is around four hours long, and at the end, you’ll reach a beautiful pair of waterfalls that are ideal for relaxing after a hard day.
4. Waimano Falls
An entrancing waterfall, Waimano Falls may be found in the southern part of the island of Oahu.
Even though it’s widely considered to be one of the most beautiful waterfalls in the region, visitors to Oahu often don’t even know that it exists.
Waimano Falls is an excellent choice if you want to see a waterfall that isn’t overcrowded with tourists.
If you want to make visiting this waterfall the main point of your trip, then there is a convenient Pacific Marina Inn that is situated in close proximity to the waterfalls.
Cliff jumping and swimming are both enjoyable activities to try at Waimano.
The route that goes to Waimano Falls begins at the Manana trail and extends for one and a half miles through a very thick, green forest before reaching the flowing waterfalls in the south of Oahu.
When trekking the path, caution is suggested because there are sections that might get steep.
However, the adrenaline rush from the challenging hike will make the water feel so much better when you finally take the plunge into it.
The waterfall itself consists of two distinct falls that are joined together. The second pool, which is deeper, is only one level above the first pool, so you can easily get to the deeper pool by going up further.
After making the climb, you are rewarded not just with a pool that is deeper for you to swim in, but also with a beautiful vista that is perfect for taking photographs.
5. Laie Falls
Make it a point to stop at Laie Falls on your way back from your hike if you want to take a minute to relax and take in the experience of being surrounded by nature.
Due to the length of the path, which is around 7 miles, the journey to the waterfall might take anything from 4-5 hours. You have to go north on H-1 from Waikiki in order to arrive at Laie Falls.
This is one of the least frequented waterfalls since the climb to get it is so difficult. This might be an extra benefit if you are looking for some peace and quiet to appreciate the water.
In addition to that, you’ll be able to take pleasure in the enticing aroma of pine trees and strawberry guava trees. The trees offer shelter from the heat of the sun, which makes the climb a lot less difficult than it could be.
After completing the trek, you could want to take some time to recover before heading to check out the water.
If this is the case, you may get some rest in the spa and in the outdoor pool at the Turtle Bay Resort before embarking on your journey to Laie Falls.
As well as taking a dip and swimming in the refreshing water, you can also explore the grounds on foot and locate several vantage spots from which to take in the sight of the waterfall, which is around 15 feet in length.
6. Waipuhia Falls
If you’re looking for something a bit different, then you should check out this optical illusion waterfall!
Given the nickname of the Upside-Down falls, the water seems to flow in the wrong direction during stormy or windy weather.
The waterfall is reachable by a route that is 0.6 miles long and is located off the Pali Highway.
However, even though it’s a short distance, inexperienced hikers are strongly discouraged to avoid this trail as the path is rather overgrown and is not maintained.
When you arrive, one of the first things you will notice is that the wind makes it appear as though the water never actually reaches the ground.
If trekking isn’t your thing, the waterfall is visible from the road even when it’s raining, so be sure to have your cameras ready.
7. Lulumahu Falls
The 2-mile trek to Lulumahu Falls takes 30-40 minutes to walk. It begins at the H-1 Highway, which is located to the west of Waikiki. In the Pali region, it has a nice position in the Nu’uanu Valley.
This is another waterfall where you need a permit to access it. The Honolulu Board of Water is the owner of Lulumahu Falls, so you have to ask permission to visit the site.
It’s possible that this is the reason why the region is often calm and quiet, which you will like.
The waterfall is a beauty that drops fifty feet and forms a lake as well as a tiny stream below it. The time of year determines whether or not you will be able to view the little brook.
Cliff-jumpers have access to a unique jumping place in the form of a colossal water tower, which can be seen over the course of the climb leading up to the falls.
If cliff jumping isn’t your thing, then you can take a dip in the pool below the waterfall instead.
8. Maunawili Falls
Currently, Mauanawili Falls is closed to the public because it is being realigned. The trail will be open in the summer of 2023 according to their website, so that gives you plenty of time to book your Oahu vacation!
It’s possible to see the waterfall without having to hike if you use the Pali Highway or the Waimanalo route to get there.
The waterfalls are located in the midst of a lush tropical jungle.
When you get to the waterfall, you’ll notice that there is a swimming hole there, as well as some towering cliffs that tourists who are feeling particularly daring can leap out of and swim beneath.
9. Kapena Falls
Kapena Falls is the ideal destination for those who wish to get away from the rush and bustle of their everyday lives and experience a trip to a magical wilderness instead.
People take pleasure in the wonderful opportunity to get away and explore the natural splendor of Hawaii, and this is a great place to start.
The Pali Highway is one of the routes that lead to Kapena Falls. Even though the path is located quite near Honolulu, you won’t get any sense at all of the city’s atmosphere here.
10. Waikahalulu Falls
Waikahalulu Falls offers a respite from the hustle and bustle of daily life despite its being in the heart of Honolulu’s bustling metropolitan core.
The surrounding gardens are said to have been named after Hawaiian Queen Lili’uokalan since it is said that this region was one of her favorite places to visit when on vacation.
Recent efforts have been launched to restore the region and reintroduce some of the native species, the populations of which had declined because of urbanization.
Those who are looking to unwind after a hard day will find the location to be ideal for either a picnic or simply some quiet time to themselves.
11. Kaipapau Falls
Another location that you shouldn’t pass up is Kaipapau Falls, particularly if you like to go on lengthy walks. The whole distance of the trail is 8 miles.
Novice hikers are strongly discouraged from attempting this trail though because the path is extremely rocky and has the potential to become icy in some spots.
You should definitely bring an additional pair of socks and shoes with you since your feet are going to get wet.
You will have to walk through streams around forty times in order to cross the rail, but when in doubt, you should go upstream.
It is not a good idea to do this activity during periods of heavy rain because there is a risk of flash flooding.
12. Li’keke Falls
Everyone who has ever seen Li’keke Falls says that it’s one of the hidden jewels that can be found on Oahu.
Despite the fact that it is one of the less well-known waterfalls on Oahu, it has been highlighted as the “Oahu Hike of the Month” on many occasions.
The setting is peaceful and tranquil, and it features a tempting flowing waterfall that is around 15 feet high.
It should come as no surprise that the very first thing that guests want to do when they arrive there is to run straight for the lake and start swimming.
The Nuuanu Pali Lookout is the starting point for the 1.75-mile trek to reach Li’keke. To maintain your footing on the slick and muddy terrain, you’ll need hiking boots that are up to the task.
Other climbs in the vicinity of Li’keke Falls, such as Pali Notches and Pali Puka, are popular destinations for tourists because of the enchanting sunset views.
To get the most out of each of these sights, you will need more time than just a single day.
At Espacio, the crown gem of Waikiki, you may relax and take pleasure in exceptional lodging in addition to delectable dining options.
13. Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls is one of the waterfalls on Oahu that draws the most visitors. It was the setting for the blockbuster film “Jurassic Park” as well as the hit television series “Lost.”
Travelers may reach the waterfall in a short amount of time by either taking a quick drive from Honolulu or going on a mile-long stroll through trees and grasses that have been well maintained
A number of excellent eateries, such as La Crepe Cafe and Wailoi Kitchen and Bake Shop, can be found close to the waterfall. If you are in the mood for something luxurious, you should go to Wailoi Kitchen and Bake Shop.
This massive cascading waterfall, which is around 150 feet long and forms a large pool of water is, nevertheless, the primary draw for visitors. It becomes significantly deeper in the winter due to the rainfall as well.
If you want to get the most out of Manoa Falls, your best bet is to go there in the winter or when it has rained recently.
Even though the water appears inviting, swimming is not allowed due to the significant risk of contracting leptospirosis from the water (a nasty bacterial infection).
Hiking is recommended here, however, keep in mind that due to the location’s high level of traffic, it can get rather busy at times.
On the other hand, due to the trail’s sometimes wet and slick conditions, solo trekking or hiking without the company of an experienced hiker is strongly discouraged.
If you want to spend more than one day at the breathtaking Manoa Falls, you have the option of staying at one of the many popular hotels in the area, such as the Hotel Lacroix or the Holiday Inn Express Waikiki, where you will get exceptional service.
14. Waimea Falls
Waimea Falls, often referred to as Waihi Falls, is a waterfall that can be found in Waimea Valley on the north side of Oahu.
It has a height of 45 feet. It is located in close proximity to 79 archeological sites and the floral gardens of Honolulu.
This is a waterfall that you have to pay to see, unfortunately, with it typically costing around $20 per entry. This has a benefit though, as the price helps pay for the upkeep of the surrounding region.
For the money that you’re paying, you’ll have access to a broad variety of activities, such as swimming in the pool and climbing the Waimea path, among other things.
Cliff jumping and surfing at Waimea Bay Beach, which is one of the most well-known beaches on Oahu and is located quite near the waterfall, are two other great things to do in the area.
It is widely considered to be one of the greatest places on Oahu for cliff jumping.
Because it is one of the waterfalls on Oahu that is easiest to access, Waimea Falls is frequently visited by a large number of people.
The trail that goes to the waterfall is less than a mile long, so you won’t have to spend ages walking there.
The majority of the route to the waterfall, which is the Kamehameha Highway, consists of paved roads and signposts that describe the stunningly gorgeous and verdant environment that encompasses travelers.
In addition, event organizers provide guests with access to a shuttle service, which costs $10 for a one-way ride to the waterfall and $14 for a return trip to the starting point.
There are a number of lodges and hotels in the surrounding region, including the Hampton Inn & Suites and the Prince Waikiki, both of which provide overnight accommodations for travelers.
The many waterfalls of Oahu are what this Hawaiian island is famous for. With stunning hiking trails and crystal clear waterfalls and pools, the island of Oahu would be anyone’s dream destination.
If you are looking for a tropical paradise escape, then book your next vacation to Oahu!
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