Manoa Falls Trail

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Whenever we have a long weekend, I always feel like I should use one of those days to get out in nature. I’m not sure what compels me, but it just seems right. Manoa Falls is beautiful, and it’s so easy to find.

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When people come to visit my island, Oahu, they usually only think about our beautiful beaches. A lot of people never even make it out of Waikiki. But if you just turn your back on the ocean for a moment (not while you’re standing too close, obviously) you can look up and see that we also have some pretty spectacular mountains. I never get tired of looking at them. Every day, it surprises me how beautiful they are.

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Pretty much straight up from Waikiki is the Manoa Valley, and a short hike that leads to a beautiful waterfall. Depending on conditions, this trail is quite easy. It’s not too steep, and it’s plenty wide. No scrambling over boulders or anything. Just a lovely walk through an amazing jungle. However, if it’s been raining, and up in the mountains, there’s a good chance that it has, the trail can become very slippery. This complicates things a bit. 

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I recommend wearing trainers or hiking shoes. This is not the time for sandals. Your shoes will get muddy. Also, probably not the best time to wear that pretty white linen skirt. I’d also probably not bring your baby. I’ve seen people do it, and I’m sure everything was fine. But I’ve also seen people slip and fall. It just makes me nervous. Use your brain. You know what to do.

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If you’re here on vacation, you’ll see people in Waikiki trying to sell you commercial tours to Manoa Falls. If you like throwing your money away, be my guest. But if you’ve rented a car, or moped, it’s very easy to drive to. If you park on the street just below the entrance, you don’t even have to pay the five dollars to park. If you don’t have your own wheels, just take the bus. It goes right up near the trail head, and a bus ride is $2.50. It’s much better than sitting on a stuffy tour bus.

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As for the experience itself, if you’ve never been in a proper jungle, you’re going to love this. There are the most wonderful plants and trees. You’ll want to stop and take photos about every thirty seconds. Or I did. Maybe I’m just weird. When you reach the falls at the end, you’ll see signs telling you not to climb out onto the rocks. I urge you to obey, even though you’ll likely see plenty of people who don’t. There have been rock falls in this area, and the more times people head off the trail, the more erosion is caused. Also, there is likely leptosperosis in the water. It can be nasty.

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If you’re an uberhiker, you can continue up another trail once you reach the falls. It keeps winding back into the mountains. I’m usually too hungry at this point to keep going, but I’ve always wanted to check it out. 

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One more tip. Remember those commercial tours I told you about? They’re only allowed on weekdays. It may sound counterintuitive, but it’s probably quieter on the weekends. Oh, and don’t forget your bug spray!

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Manoa Falls is the perfect opportunity to see the other side of Oahu. The beach is fun, but the mountains are just breathtaking. It’s a relatively simple hike that’s easily accessible. It’s a great place to start for exploring. Be respectful of the aina, or land, and enjoy it’s beauty.

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