Have I ever mentioned that I do not love the outdoors? I am a eco-friendly, tree-hugging person, but I do not necessarily love the concept of being outdoors. Strange, but true. With all the beautiful sights to see in the world, particularly here in Hawaii, I have been forced to tolerate the outdoors in exchange for the experiences I gain by venturing into nature. There are so many hikes, trails, waterfalls, wildlife, exhibits, etc. to be found here, and I’m enjoying the experience even more than I thought I would.
My mom is an outdoor lover, and she wanted to hike as much as possible while she was here. I had read about Manoa Falls and the trail to the waterfall – not too long in distance or too high in elevation, lots of greenery and different trees, and a nice waterfall at the end. This trail is not as popular with tourists, which I prefer, and the stated distance of 0.8 miles each way seemed reasonable for the younger girls. Mom was on board, so off we went.
It was gorgeous! The trees and plants are so full and green, and there are eucalyptus, bamboo, hibiscus, and more. It was like walking through a smaller rainforest with plenty of shade for the hike. The trail gradually ascends 800 feet but is unpaved. You climb over rocks and around branches, and the steps can become a little steep. There are spots where the drop from the trail is rather high (which made me nervous with the kids), and there is not always a railing or barrier for safety. The rocks can also be slippery, even in dry conditions, and wet conditions only heighten this risk. There are posted signs for cation of trail conditions, flash flooding, and warnings to stay on the trail. Eek! I had my mom with me to watch the kids and had Leo in a hiking backpack, so my nerves were a little better. When you finally reach the waterfall, it can be barely a trickle or a heavier rush, depending on the weather conditions. The water is cold but shallow; Addie dipped her feet in, and we saw people with dogs swimming in the small pond. We sat here for awhile to take in the view, talk to fellow hikers, and just catch a breath.
My only complaint is one that I am slowly learning for all hikes – the posted distance is never accurate. Again, the shorter distance convinced me that I could easily carry Leo. As we climbed, several people were descending very sweaty and panting for breath. I had a few people tell me how strong I was to carry him on my back! Once it was clear that we were far from the top, I figured that it was a slightly longer distance than posted. According to my FitBit, our roundtrip distance was 5.33 kilometers. What??? No wonder I was drenched in sweat! I felt very accomplished and also wondered why people ever hike or run long distances with weight strapped to them; the 35 pounds of backpack and Leo were plenty for me.
Even though it was farther than anticipated, the incline and the hike are not too terrible. As with most hikes, you can take this at your own pace and enjoy your surroundings. I saw people of all ages hiking around us, and I think the unstable trail would be the only obstacle for tourists. This is also a free activity – always a plus for me. We paid $5 for an all-day parking pass in the closest parking lot, but that was the only cost. At the entrance, there are restrooms, a gift shop, a snack shop, and even a restaurant in a converted bird sanctuary. The hike took us about 1.5 hours, but you could spend all day listening to birds, studying plants, eating at the restaurant for lunch, and sitting in awe of a natural wonder. I highly recommend Manoa Falls for nearly everyone!
***For more information, see this website to learn more about Manoa Falls***