As much of Oʻahu is heavily populated compared to the other Hawaiian Islands, you might have a harder time here to find peace and quiet at a waterfall in O’ahu. That said, there are still majestic misty green mountains, and lots of water coming down them often. If you don’t mind sharing with others, there are quite a few great O’ahu waterfalls to visit.
A very popular waterfall in O’ahu Hawaii with both locals and visitors alike is located in the back of Mānoa Valley, not far from downtown. It’s a 1.6-mile round trip trail to the falls, which is one of the island’s best. The trail is mostly flat but can be quite muddy; come prepared with proper hiking shoes and bug repellent. Some companies offer guided hiking tours here, if you don’t have your own transportation. The trailhead is located right next to the entrance to Lyon Arboretum, a rainforest botanical garden that is part of the University of Hawaiʻi, Mānoa. Visiting both the falls and the arboretum can make for a pleasant and cool afternoon in the back of Mānoa.
Liliʻuokalani Botanical Garden
Think there aren’t any O’ahu waterfalls in the heart of downtown Honolulu? Well, you’d be wrong. At Liliʻuokalani Botanical Garden, you can find a little bit of waterfall respite from the chaos of the urban jungle. This garden was formerly the Queen’s favorite picnic grounds, and now it’s free and open to the public for anyone to picnic and enjoy the stream and small O’ahu waterfalls here. Plantings are focused on native Hawaiian plants. Park and enter from Kuakini Street.
If you drive out to the North Shore, consider spending an afternoon at Waimea Valley, a cultural center and botanical garden owned by a nonprofit company. Walk through the botanical garden on a paved path for approximately 1 mile to reach the 50-foot falls, passing through different types of gardens and historic sites. Swimming at the falls is permitted, and there are changing facilities and a lifeguard posted for your safety. It’s a popular place with families. Make the day complete by walking across the street to Waimea Bay, famous site of big wave surfing contests. Please exercise caution when swimming here even if the surf is small; if it’s big, stay out!
There’s lots to do outdoors on Oʻahu, waterfalls can be a fun part of your adventures!