1 - 2
FATMAP difficulty grade
Many publications tout Waimano Falls as one of the best waterfall hikes on the Hawaiian island of Oahu.
While this trail doesn’t get quite as much traffic as some other hikes, the ample media coverage almost guarantees that you’ll see other hikers on this trail.
Despite the area's popularity, this hike is surprisingly difficult. The first stretch of the hike to the falls follows the Manana Ridge Trail.
After roughly a mile of easy ridgeline hiking, a sign marks the turn off to Waimano Falls.
From here, the trail drops steeply down into the gorge.
The singletrack quickly turns into an eroded, steep descent, with large root step downs, big boulders, and numerous muddy spots if wet.
On the way back up, full engagement of your hands is required almost the entire time, with some sections posing some tricky scrambling moves.
However, if you ask the locals, most will claim that Waimano Falls is one of the better hikes in the area, with some other trails renowned as being much more difficult. After descending the steep, eroded trail, you’ll reach Waimano’s famous pools and cascading waterfall.
While wet weather will make the descent to the pools even more treacherous, the waterfalls won’t be flowing unless there has been rain recently.
If the weather has been dry, the waterfall ceases to flow, and the pools grow stagnant.
When the water is flowing, the pools serve as a popular swimming hole.
If “swimming” sounds too passive, you can opt for the rope swings, or jump off the nearby cliffs.
If you choose to cliff jump, ensure that you evaluate the risk for yourself and are comfortable with the potentially deadly consequences.
People have been seriously injured in this area, and evacuation from Waimano is very involved, requiring a helicopter. After enjoying your time in the pools, the climb back up can feel like a smack in the face.
While strenuous and technical, thankfully the climb is relatively short.
Once back on the Manana Ridge trail, you can relax and stroll easily back to your car.