Oahu’s Maunawili Falls: A short trip to the ‘Heart of Darkness’

Maunawili Falls Oahu Trailblazer Kailua adventure travel

The 3-mile round-trip (375 feet of elevation) to Maunawili Falls may spec out as a cakewalk, but it walks more like a jungle trek a la Conrad’s novel, upon which the movie Apocalypse Now was based. The trail starts in suburbia on the east side of the Ko’olau Range not far from Kailua on Windward Oahu. The neighborhood scene changes from the jump, as tropical flora swallows you up.
hiking Oahu Hawaii
Imbedded flat stones are a traditional Hawaiian method of improving footing.
Oahu Trailblazer hiking trails
Some short sections of the trail are a breeze.
hiking Maunawili Falls trail Hawaii Outside
File the “No Trespassing” warning under “not necessary.” King Kong would have trouble off trail.
Footwear is a personal choice. Whatever yours is, plan on getting them wet and muddy. As is the case for most jungle hikes in Hawaii, it’s easier to leave shoes on when crossing streams. Plan on washing them after the hike to avoid an unpleasant stink.
Maunawili Falls Oahu Trailblazer directions
Rain on this day turned the water brown. A second falls lies above, but it takes a four-point scramble.
Most visitors to populated Oahu will be surprised at the number of trailheads leading to waterfalls and ridges of the Ko’olaus and Waianae Mountains. Oahu Traiblazer guides you to all of them.

Oahu Trailblazer cover