The Best Easy Hikes Oahu Offers: Makapu’u Point Manoa Falls

Hawaii Aloha Travel > Podcast > The Best Easy Hikes Oahu Offers: Makapu’u Point Manoa Falls

Hiking in Hawaii doesn’t always have to be for the outdoor enthusiast. If you’re not a hiking extraordinaire, don’t worry! There are plenty of easy hikes Oahu offers that still feature breathtaking scenery.

We understand that not everyone comes to Hawaii for the activities. Some of you might be allured simply by the sunshine and relaxing days of lounging and leisure. So, if you’re not an active type of vacationer but still want to enjoy some of Hawaii’s untouched beauty, then here are a couple mellow hikes for you to explore.

Manoa Falls Trail

The first easy Oahu Hike we’re highlighting is the Manoa Falls Trail. While the weekends have proved to be somewhat crowded here, during a weekday or off-times (early morning and late afternoon), this hike is very pleasant.

Manoa falls

Where to Find It

Located in the lush valley of Manoa, this hike is accessible if you’re staying in Honolulu or Waikiki. Just drive inland up Manoa Road, winding through neighborhoods of beautifully classic Hawaiian plantation homes and points of interest. There is a parking lot at the end of the road, where you’ll also find the Lyon Arboretum. 

You’ll need to pay a few dollars to park, which we prefer over difficult hikes with hard-to-find parking spots. 

What to Expect

The trail begins through dripping vines and large green elephant-eared palm fronds along a crumbled black asphalt and dirt road. It’ll then open up into a larger path, passing through tall coconut palm forests, canopies of trees and ferns, and arguably the lushest sights you’ll ever encounter. 

A bridge takes you over a small ravine, and then you’re in the real beginning of the trail. Manoa Falls hike is beautiful and easy, with some rocks, roots, and wood planks to walk over. 

We recommend wearing walking shoes on this hike, but have also seen it done easily in slippers (and we mean flip-flop rubbah slippahs, not your fuzzy house slippers). The walk takes less than an hour one-way, guiding you toward a tumbling waterfall glistening against a freshwater pool.

There are ropes and signs deterring folks from trekking outside of the intended path. This is for safety and to protect the plant life and landscape here. Falling rocks and landslides do occur at waterfall cliff sites. 

There are many break points along the trail where you can stop and rest, (or take in the beauty, however you prefer to label it!) Hang out in a bamboo forest, by the creek, amidst twisted tree branches, by the river crossings, or on large boulders. 

Manoa Falls is one of our favorite easy hikes on Oahu. It’s under 2 miles roundtrip, within shady canopies and great scenery. If it has been rainy, be prepared for mud. Bug spray and/or long pants are also advisable. 

During the summer months, the waterfall is just barely a trickle, since the water flow depends upon the rainfall. So don’t think you’re hiking into some spectacularly powerful waterfall! But it’s still a great place to see, so give this easy but gorgeous trail a chance! 

It is very worthwhile and takes you into the greenest, most tropical parts of the island. You haven’t explored Hawaii if you haven’t been to its rainforests. 

Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail

The second easy Oahu hike to highlight is the Makapu’u Point Lighthouse Trail. This trek is the opposite of Manoa Falls, since it offers spectacular views of the coastline rather than the rainforests. But it’s still equally stunning. 

Where to this Easy Hike in Oahu

Makapu’u Point is on Oahu’s southeastern side, just around the corner from Waikiki. You’ll be near Sea Life Park, Hawaii Kai Golf Course, and Makapu’u Beach Park.

There is an accessible parking area located off of the Kalanianaole Highway (Hwy. 72)

What to Expect

This scenic hike winds within the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline, offering great vantages for seeing wildlife, including humpback whales in the winter months.  

It’s about a mile from the parking lot to the lighthouse (so 2 miles round trip) and is suitable for almost any age and ability. However, we do recommend walking shoes for this hike, as it winds up and down slopes.

The panoramic views along this hike are absolutely fantastic. You’ll see sea cliffs, sandy shorelines, other islands (Molokai and Lanai, on clear days), and endless blue water.  

But, it is a hot and sunny hike. So we recommend wearing sunscreen and bringing a hat and sunglasses along. And, of course, plenty of water too. 

A leisurely walk to Makapu’u Lighthouse is a great way to spend an afternoon on Oahu, even if you’re not keen on being active during your vacation. Look at it more as a sightseeing adventure rather than a hike, because you’re sure to see a lot more along this terrain than sitting poolside at the resort! 

And it’s an easy trail that will satisfy both adventurers and less active travelers. 

Other Easy Hikes on Oahu

We didn’t want to overwhelm our less enthusiastic readers by detailing lots of multi-mile hikes that may not really be that easy for everyone. Instead, we wanted to highlight Manoa Falls and Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail because they are the two best, easy hikes that are actual hikes (as in, they’re not just paved strolls through gardens). 

But, there are other places where you can take a somewhat simple hike or just meander along a pathway. Here are a few different sites to check out if you find yourself eager for more adventures. 

  • Diamond Head Summit Trail. Though just a mile-and-a-half round trip, the Diamond Head Summit Trail is very steep and sunny. I’ve seen a lot of casual visitors surprised by its many steps and intense heat. So it’s still an easy Oahu hike, but maybe not as easy as you’d like. Be sure to make reservations if you want to take on this trek. 
  • Waimea Falls is almost too easy to even be considered a hike. This Waimea Valley adventure is more of a paved garden path. But this may make it perfect for your strut through nature. Plus, you can even ride a golf cart if you don’t want to hike at all. 
  • ​​Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden Trail is more of a nature trail, but it’s super photogenic and a great free activity on Oahu. You’ll walk about 2 miles through the park and can see a lot of tropical trees and plants. Read more about Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden here

Why We Recommend Everyone Hikes on Oahu

Exploring Oahu’s natural beauty is just as rewarding as soaking in its resort-esque beauty too, so don’t cut yourself short during your Hawaiian vacation. 

These two easy hikes on Oahu are perfect for getting out for a little bit and feeling like you really achieved something during your vacation. They’ll also get you back to the beach soon, where you can return to your mai tais and lounge chair. 

Happy trails and travels to you!