Waimano Waterfalls Trail

Manana Trailhead

Manana trailhead

There’s been a lot written on the Waimano Waterfalls and pools, but I’d like to add a couple of things that were never mentioned. The first point is that while it’s true that it’s only three miles to the falls and back from the trail head, it can be about four miles (according to my “mapmyrun” app) round trip from where you park your car. On a Saturday, it could be a half mile away. The trail head is easy to find: Just locate Komo Mai Drive in Pearl City and make your way to the very end of the street. This is where your adventure begins.

It was the first time for me and my two friends on this hike. We started up the trail, which is actually paved for a stretch. The path is worn and well maintained. There is a lush forest canopy of Iron Woods, Koa and Eucalyptus trees along the way. I was immediately struck by the singing of the wind rushing through the Iron Wood trees. LOVE this sound. IMG_8536As we trekked along, we stopped to enjoy the spectacular views of the valley. As Suzanne put it, “There are so many vibrant colors and layers of depth in the landscape.” We were hiking along for quite some time and realized we were going up, not down, towards any stream. Yep, we missed the fork that leads to the falls and went two miles out of our way.

Look for this tree

Look for this tree

This is my second point that was not mentioned in other articles: There is a tree that is actually quite obvious, that has the letters “WF” (for waterfall) and an arrow spray painted on it. The large tree also had a pink ribbon around it. In retrospect, we couldn’t believe we missed this obvious signal, but we were on the far left side and we just kept walking along the Manana Trail which goes six miles up to the Ko’olau summit.

Once on the correct trail it immediately started going down, and we knew we were on the right track. There were many other people, as well, of all ages, some with small children walking or riding piggyback. Personally I wouldn’t recommend bringing small children unless you are a well-experienced hiking family or group, as going down can be quite precarious. IMG_8544The trail, at times, is simply large rocks to maneuver through, and it’s steep with loose dirt and very slippery if it’s wet. There are roots and trees with branches to grab as you make your way down. Finally, we hear the happy screams of thrill seeking jumpers and the sound of bodies hitting the water in the distance. Yay! We made it.

First pool

First pool

Once at the three pools you are on a ledge looking down. The first pool can be accessed by using a small rope with knots to climb down. The pool is about waist-deep and you can wade in the cool water. This is also the way to reach the smaller but deeper second pool.

2nd & 3rd pools

Second & third pools, looking downstream

The third pool is accessible by going around and climbing down to the beach-like area where you can relax and watch the others jump from the 20-foot ledge. I heard one person say they felt the bottom when they took the leap, and they recommended tucking your legs in on entry. There was also a rope to swing out on and fly into the pool.

jumping off the rope

Jumping off the rope

As always, when fresh-water swimming in Hawaii, make sure to check yourself for any open cuts because of the possible presence of Leptospirosis. (Even some rare cases of flesh-eating bacteria have been reportedly linked to ponds and streams.)

What comes down must go up. Time for the haul back up what is appropriately dubbed “Cardiac Hill.”

Cardiac Hill

Cardiac Hill

But for me, because of my bad knees, going up was much more comfortable than going down. I have no problems with stopping, taking a gulp of water and catching my breath. And by the way, I brought 22 oz of water…not enough. I recommend at least 32 oz or more and a couple of Power Bars for the trip. It took us one hour for the two-mile hike back to our car. I can’t accurately say how long it took going in because of our little two-mile detour.

I hope you will give this hike a try. It’s a great workout with the prize of a fun fresh water swim at the end. Happy hiking!

Suzanne takes the plunge!

Suzanne takes the plunge!


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