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.
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.
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
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 takes you to a pathway to start your
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 a final 100 yard stair climb
up to the top,
and you’ll reach a plateau with nice views of the valley and
surrounding jungle. Take a moment and enjoy the scene before
starting your decent down to the Maunawili Falls.
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
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 not advised 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.
From Waikiki, take the H-1 Hwy north
Merge onto the Pali Hwy Hwy 61
Pali Hwy turns into the Kalanianaole Hwy
Follow it down and take the 2nd Auloa Rd entrance
Take Auloa road until it intersects with Kelwina St.
At this point you should see the Maunawili Falls Trail sign
Park legally above in the neighborhood
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
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.
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.
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…!