Everything you need to know before hiking Lulumahu Falls

Lulumahu Falls is a 50-foot waterfall in Honolulu.
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Over the weekend, my friends and I hiked to Lulumahu Falls, a 50-foot waterfall in Honolulu. About a 2.5-mile round trip, it was the perfect hike to do on a Sunday morning.

I had never heard of this popular hike before a few weeks ago, so this was my first time on this trail. Even though I had done some research online, I still wasn’t sure what to expect. It was moderately difficult, with a few stream crossings and beautiful views during the entire way.

Waterfall hikes are some of my favorite hikes to do. They are usually gorgeous throughout the whole hike, with small waterfalls along the way.  Plus, I love the reward of a waterfall at the end. I usually bring a snack or a sandwich to eat while I sit on the rocks and enjoy the waterfall.

So today, I thought I would share some pictures from our hike and some tips that I learned along the way.

Lulumahu Falls vs Manoa Falls

Many first-time visitors to Hawaii hike to Manoa Falls. So, which one should you do?

Lulumahu Falls and Manoa Falls are close to each other and similar in length. The main difference between the two hikes is that Manoa Falls is a maintained hike, with restrooms, a small store, and a snack shop. Manoa Falls is also 150 feet tall.

Lulumahu Falls is an unsanctioned trail with no restrooms, no water fountains, and no other amenities. The trail to Lulumahu Falls also has stream crossings, which Manoa Falls doesn’t have. Both are beautiful hikes.

Finding Lulumahu Falls

It is easy to find this trail. If you are coming from Honolulu, take the Pali Highway (Hwy 61). There’s a parking area off of Old Pali Road, right before you get to the Pali Lookout. If you get to the Pali Lookout, you have gone too far. Luckily, you can turn around at the Pali Lookout if you do go too far.


There is a dirt parking lot right off of the highway where you can park. The parking area is on a steep incline, but I was able to get on it with my little sedan. There are usually a good amount of cars there, so it’s not hard to find.

Where to start

The start of the trail is marked with an old hunting station. There will probably be lots of other people around to help you if you have trouble finding it. We went on a Sunday, and while we met many other people hiking, it didn’t feel too crowded.

What you will see along the way

The trail brings you through a bamboo forest, the Honolulu Water Board Supply, and the Nu’uanu Reservoir. You will go up cement stairs and climb over rocks. At one point, you will have incredible views of the Koʻolau mountain range. I loved the variety in this trail and that there were so many different things to look at. Be sure to take your time on this trail to soak in the views.

Difficulty level

This hike is rated as moderate.  There is a slight incline as you get to the waterfall.  The trail gets its moderate rating because you have to cross a few slippery streams, which can be tricky. You also have to climb over rocks at a few points.

The trail can get very slippery when it’s rainy, especially at the stream crossings. Be sure to wear shoes with good traction, not flip-flops. I wore my hiking boots, and they helped me a lot. If you have waterproof shoes, I would recommend wearing them.

Pink ribbons mark the trail. This trail can be a bit confusing at times, and you might not know which way to go. If you are unsure if you are going the right way, look for the pink ribbons. Ribbons are used as trail markers on almost all of the trails in Hawaii.

What to bring

There are tons of bugs on this trail. Bug spray is a must. Also, bring sunscreen and water. Because the trail is mainly shaded, and because it is usually cloudy in this area, you might not think that you need sunscreen and water. But the sun is harsh in Hawaii, even when it’s cloudy. And hiking even 2.5 miles will make you thirsty! I brought a granola bar to eat at the falls.

What else to expect

Be prepared to get muddy. We left the trail wet and muddy, but it was such a fun hike that we didn’t mind! I brought a towel and a change of shoes so that I didn’t have to get my car muddy.

Although the waterfall is tempting, especially on a hot, day, don’t go in.  A bacterial disease called leptospirosis lives in freshwater in Hawaii and can make you sick.

I can’t believe it took me so long to find Lulumahu Falls, but it was worth the wait. I love short hikes like this because they don’t take up your whole day. When you are on vacation in Hawaii, every day is precious, and you might not want to spend a whole day hiking. Just a few hours on this trail will enable you to get some exercise, see a waterfall, and get a feel for the nature of Hawaii.

I can’t wait to go back and to bring my friends and family who come to visit. If you enjoy hiking and love chasing waterfalls, I encourage you to do this hike. For more information about different trails in Hawaii, keep checking back to this blog, and to book your Hawaiian trip give us a call or use our Trip Planner.

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