Hawaii's little secrets: Maunawili Falls
Whether visitors to Maunawili Falls Trail seek an exciting cliff jump or simply a pleasant hike, this trail can satisfy everyone's desires.
Tuesday, March 30, 2010 - 06:24
DAREDEVILS: Visitors come to test their audacity and jump from the falls. (Photo by: Susan Gaze)
On the windward side of Oahu is a true natural treasure, Maunawili Falls Trail. This 1.5-mile out-and-back hike meanders through tropical rainforest leading up to a 30-foot waterfall that flows into a refreshing swimming hole.
Maunawili Falls Trail begins in a residential area on Kelewina Road. From here, the trail winds through a succession of large tree roots, fresh streams and muddy trails in the dense rainforest. Along the trail banana plants, ginger, heleconia and even some wild coffee trees can be identified.
During the four instances when the trail crosses the stream, some rock hopping is required and it is very likely that hikers will get muddy. Therefore, good hiking shoes are recommended. The trail can be taxing if it has recently rained.
About three-quarters of the way into the hike there are magnificent views of the Ko'olau Mountains and the town of Kailua below. This is an excellent opportunity to take pictures. After this viewing area, the trail forks and it is important to take the path on the left which descends down a set of stairs. The stairs lead to the last stream crossing and finally the waterfall.
At the end of the hike are the impressive Maunawili Falls and the alluring swimming hole that the falls spill into. Hikers can enjoy the sight of the beating water, swim in the chilly water, or some daredevils even attempt the daunting cliff jump into the water beneath the falls.
There are three places where those who are brave enough can jump into the water hole. The smallest jump is about a 10-foot jump from the bottom portion of the falls. The middle jump is located to the right of the waterfall and requires an unnerving climb along the side of the cliff to reach the small rock that protrudes far enough to stand comfortably on. From here it is about a 30-foot jump to the swimming hole below.
Only the most courageous attempt the highest jump from the left side of the waterfall. This jump requires a small hike of its own up to the jumping spot. Many who attempt this jump are stuck at the top looking down reconsidering their decision to take it on! The jump itself is about a 45-foot fall to the water underneath. It is an exciting aspect of the hike to attempt any of these jumps or to watch the practiced locals challenge themselves with different cliff jumping tricks.
An interesting fact about Maunawili Falls is that part of Jason Mraz's music video for his popular song "I'm Yours" was filmed at the waterfall, and many other scenes were filmed throughout Hawaii. In the video there are shots of people hiking on the trail and jumping from the waterfall.
Maunawili Falls is a trail that suits a variety of different hikers and skill levels. The trail itself is relatively easy and the challenges that await those who are willing to jump are a welcomed adrenaline rush for those who seek it.