Oahu Fun Family Waterfall Hikes | Manoa Falls

Oahu Hikes for Kids

I recently discovered Meetup and found lots of fun clubs and activities on the island from beer-swilling running clubs to business  mixers and board games. There’s a little something for everyone.  Oahu photography group combined my love of hiking with photography and I immediately signed up for a trip to Manoa Falls – a fun family waterfall hike. It’s been over a decade since i’ve made the short hike. In my mind it was a crowded, over-hyped trail due to its proximity to Waikiki and ease of access. Once they started charging $5 for parking, I never returned.

But that was a mistake. With children in tow, I experienced it with fresh eyes. It’s an exceptional hike for families with young kids. It’s short, easy to access, clearly marked, and ends with a waterfall. That alone makes it a unicorn among hikes; prefect for the reluctant adventurer. The trail itself packs an impressive amount of diversity. Roosters clamber for food scraps in the parking lot and their calls ring through the valley as you set off on the path. Everything is wet, lush, dripping. Street signs are overtaken by thick layers of moss. Impossibly large vines crawl over every surface while brightly colored blooms accent the scene.

The trail follows the burbling stream past towering albizia trees with cascading purple flowers. You pass a knotted hau tree that will beckon you climb its tangled branches. You pass through a bamboo grove where you can play hide and seek among the smooth, strong branches. Be on the lookout for tiny treasures. Fungi are hidden in plain sight. You only have to slow enough to see them.

It took us a full 3 hours to complete this hike. Instead of the typical hike, snap a photo and sprint ahead to re-join the group, we went slow. My oldest had taken a recent interest in photography so I gifted him an old DSLR. We fully geeked out with the other “hiking” photographers and explored the world with cameras in hand.

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Looking for more family fun on Oahu?

You can find another easy family waterfall hike here. And don’t forget to sign up for the Little Bird Post below to receive monthly updates on adventures on Oahu with kids!


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