Maunawili Falls is tucked away deep in the Maunawili Valley below the towering Pali Cliffs. A fun Oahu hiking trail will lead you up and back down the hillside to this local Oahu waterfall. The adventurous 2 mile Maunawili Falls Trail is marked and maintained by the city & county. But don’t kid yourself…you will still be walking over tree roots and hopping rocks to cross the streams. Reach the bottom of the trail and you’ll find a Hawaiian waterfall oasis playground, where some dare to swim and jump off steep rocks into the mountain pool!
The Mauanwili Falls Trail starts off in a quiet neighborhood surrounded by beautiful homes. There is a small descriptive sign at the bend in the road that takeyou to a pathway to start your journey.
The initial path takes you in about 100 yards before you need to turn up into the hillside. You’ll find a posted map and description of the trial at this juncture.
Be prepared to walk on eroded soil
tree roots and muddy areas,
as the case for most Oahu
waterfalls! The trail progressively
climbs upward, traveling across overgrown tree roots, up man made
hillside steeps, and a few rock boulders.
This Oahu hiking trail levels out a bit in a area where you begin to follow the stream. This is where the fun begins as the trail leads you through a couple stream crossings. Be prepared to get your shoes wet, or play a daring game of leap frog. Luckily for me, my hopping and balancing skills kept my feet dry!
Make sure to take the trail leading down verses continuing onward, as some hikers do. This is a distinctive area on the trail as you climb out of the jungle for the first time with the beautiful distant views.
There is a raise metal platform bar that stands out in this area that could be used for leaning or stretching on.
Take your time descending down to the bottom. Some of the steps are large and a little tricky to scale down.
Congratulations…you made it!
Reaching the Mauniwili Falls is quite rewarding! You’ll need to cross over a few boulders and the stream one more time to get to the waterfall pool area.
The waterfall is a 20 ft trail of water that runs down an angled rock before cascading into the mountainside pool.
Although it is unadvisable to swim or jump off the rocks into this pool, you’ll find lots of daring folks forgoing this warning and taking the plunge.
There are 2 ways to get to the top of the waterfall. You could either swim up to the falls, where I’ve watched folks climb up the side of the waterfall, or take the continuing trail that climbs around and put you on top of the Mauniwili waterfall.
For those seeking a larger thrill can climb even higher to a ledge on the side that sets up a good 30ft jump into the pool. The trail located across the stream leads up to this area, where you’ll also find a second waterfall as well.
Don’t start too late – this adventure can easily take you a few hours, as you’ll want to hang out once you reach the waterfall. The foliage is thick in some parts and gets dark quickly once the sun goes down.
Be safe – while swimming in the mountain pool and jumping off the rock into it can be a lot of fun, there are a few risks to consider. Running mountain water from the streams and rivers could be contaminated with leptospirosis bacterial disease that could be hazardous if swallowed or infect an open wound. Climbing and jumping off the rocks can also be hazardous and dangerous for many reasons, including slipping and falling onto the rocks, or creating injury by landing wrong into the water.
Water shoes – consider bringing a pair of water shoes to better navigate through the streams and pool area…if entering.
Parking – You can take advantage of street parking alongside the homes in the neighborhood. Make sure to park legal and be courteous to residents, by keeping the noise down and not littering.
Downtown Kailua: The downtown Kailua area is just a few miles down the road. Kailua is a cute small town with some great shops and restaurants worth visiting.
Kailua Restaurants: Fuel up right before you start your hike to the falls. Kailua particularly has some of the best breakfast spots on the Oahu, including Boots & Kimos, Cinnamons, and Moke’s Bread and Breakfast. All 3 places feature signature pancakes and other notable dishes!
Lanikai Juice: If you are thirsty and feel like living like a celebrity, than stop in at Lanikai Juice. You just might bump into a famous TV or movie star, like from the Lost or Hawaii 5-0 cast. Lanikai Juice is known for healthy juices and unique juice bowls with toppings.
Lanikai Beach & Kailua Beach: There is no better way to finish off your long hike, than with taking a dip in some of the most beautiful ocean waters on the island. Both Lanikai Beach and Kailua Beach Park are incredible Oahu beach choices worth visiting…and are only 10 minutes down the road.
Pali Lookout – You’ll need to travel across the Pali Hwy to get to Maunawili Falls. Take a moment to check out the iconic Pali Lookout. It’s a point of significance in the Hawaiian history, where King Kamehameha conquered his enemies. Not to mention the Windward side views are some of the best on the island…!