Located in the back of Manoa Valley, the trailhead is actually at the Lyon Arboretum, which is a wonderful place to explore if you have the time. Although this trail isn't a far drive from the busy streets of Honolulu, you will be surrounded by complete peace and tranquility up here. The valley itself is a haven from the freeways and buildings of Waikiki, and it's home to mostly upscale residential homes.
Manoa Falls — Photo courtesy of Ken Lund
This hike is only one-mile long, but it traverses through so many different terrains and ecosystems that you might feel as though you're covering miles. Large elephant ear plants, fir trees, bamboo forests and intriguing Banyan trees are just some of the striking foliage you'll pass through.
The trail is often a bit muddy and slippery, thanks to the abundance rain in the lush valley. But it's quite level and doesn't offer much of an incline. At the end of the trek is the 150-foot falls, but the pool is better to put your feet in and cool down than swimming. Rocks have been known to occasionally fall from the cliff, and it's not safe to sit under the falls.
A highlight of the trail is the doorway and tunnel through the massive Banyan tree forest. These trees are fun to explore and take photos of because of their abundance of roots hanging from high up and re-rooting into the ground. At one point, you'll come across a boardwalk pathway, but that section isn't very long.
A Banyan tree tunnel — Photo courtesy of Poom!
Mosquito repellent is a good idea for this hike, and make sure to wear sneakers and bring water and lunch. Since it's a low-impact hike, it's suitable for families and children.
Not far from the trailhead is Andy's Sandwiches and Smoothies, a hole in the wall that's a favorite with locals. This small, family-run eatery has been around a long time. They're known for their affordable and healthy dishes.
For the smoothest transition in and out of the valley, try to visit the falls after 9 a.m. and be ready to leave before 3 p.m., when Honolulu's rush hour begins. To find the trailhead, go to 3998 Manoa Road at the back of Manoa Valley in Paradise Park. Take West Manoa Road to the end, park on the shoulder of the road and you'll see the signs.