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O’ahu: Rainforest trails and city life


O’ahu. That’s where we flew. That’s where Honolulu is. That where the action happens. O’ahu actually ended up being our favourite island of all we visited. That’s because it’s the perfect mix of city life and nature. We loved the cool restaurants of Honolulu, we did some snorkeling and beach life in Hanauma Bay and we saw the rainforest just outside the city of Honolulu at a few trails. Loved it! The different trails were the best thing for me in Hawaii. That was where we got the chance to see the amazing nature up and close. I get so excited when I enter any forest and seeing the rainforests was a lifetime dream of mine. I was mesmerized. In the following posts about Hawaii I will focus on the different nature trails in different islands. Just because I think those are the best reason to visit Hawaii and its various island.



This nature trail is so easy to achieve from Honolulu. A bus goes there from the Waikiki beach (take bus 5 or 2) or you can get a taxi or Über of Lyft to take you there. It’s just about 10 to 20 minutes drive depending on the traffic.

At the end of the road there’s car parking space and a little store and toilets. From there follow the road a bit further to start the trail. Manoa falls trail is the perfect trail to start your vacation. Because it’s quite easy if you have ever walked before! It’s very achievable with children and people with difficulties. But if it has been raining for a few days, it’s going to be a slippery and muddy trail.

We went there in the early morning and I think that was a right decision. The forest will be very hot by the noon and by that time there will also be a lot of tourist helicopter tours disturbing the tranquility of the rainforest with their noises.



Remember the scene from Jurassic park when the car gets stuck in the mud and the raptors are coming to get them… Does the above picture look familiar…?

This trail was totally amazing with its luscious green forests. I have never seen anything like this. The are no words for this. There’s so much green that you just cannot understand it. It’s going to be very moist, there’s going to be so many different plants. Some you might recognize and some you definitely won’t. And there’s going to be places that you might recognize from a movies. Yes, some of the Jurassic park scenes were filmed here.


At the end of the trail there’s the Manoa waterfall. This picture definitely isn’t doing any justice to its true glory. The whole hike to the waterfall will take about a half an hour. And the same back. So it’s very nice indeed and will not take the whole day, you’ll have time for the beach as well.

The saddest thing is that this rainforest is totally built by people. There was once a natural rainforest here but, as you might have noticed, we people are really good with destroying the beautiful things on planet Earth.


  • good shoes like training/running shoes (they will go muddy, I’ll promise)
  • lots of water
  • shorts and t-shirt or top; it will get more and more hot by every hour
  • camera




So you reached the Manoa waterfall and you’re amazed by it. Awesome! But did it feel a bit too easy? For us (Finns walk a a lot and we are used to walking in forest grounds) the trail to Manoa Falls felt a piece of cake and ended a too soon. So we went a bit adventurous…

When you turn to return from the waterfall, on your right side you’ll notice a little path going straight up with a sign “Aihualama trail”. It certainly feels a lot more difficult from the beginning because you have to literally climb a bit to get through the muddy rocks. We also hesitated a few seconds but then decided to try it out.



NOTE: This trail is a lot harder. So if you have problems with joints or you haven’t done a lot of nature walking, this might be difficult. We had no idea what was coming for us and after we did this I definitely felt it in my legs.

The first mile of this trail is so amazing! It takes you through magical bamboo forests, the biggest roots and tree I’ve ever seen, a root path and the greenest valleys you can imagine. It’s all breathtaking! The path varies a lot so there’s a little bit of climbing and then just nice flat surface.




After the first mile or so you’re starting to really go all the way up to the hill. Yes, this path will end with stunning views but you have to walk a serpentine-like path up. About 2 miles more. It’s not difficult but it will be boring (you start to question your mental health when you feel you just walk the same 10 meters and turn over and over again). As you go higher and higher you start to feel it in your legs. The whole journey up took us about 1 1/2 hours. So remember to have breaks and drink a lot of water and preferably have some snacks with you.

At some point (when you start to doubt the whole trail and if its ever going to end) you bump into a trail sign like this:


Here, take a turn to your right, walk about 10 minutes more and you get to the view point. And that view is so worth the trekking up. You can see Honololu and the Pacific ocean and a nice breeze will dry you quickly (because once you get here you will be wet with sweat). Take a little break here and just relax.

Because you have to go down, too. We decided to go down the same way we came up. A bit boring, yes, but we had no idea where the Pauoa Flats trail (which starts there where I just instructed you turn right for the view. Turn left for the Pauoa trail) was going to take us and we started to feel tired with the cardio training we did while trekking up to the hill. So down we went. It was, of course, quicker but definitely harder for your joints. So you’ll be getting a full legs workout with this trail.


  • good shoes like training/running shoes (they will go muddy, I’ll promise)
  • lots and lots and lots of water
  • snacks like banana and peanuts
  • longer pants and t-shirt or top; it’s going to get hot but when you’re climbing through stones rubble the longer pants give you a bit more cover
  • an extra shirt because you’re going to get sweat a lot
  • camera





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