Contrary to the advice of TLC, our family spends a lot of time chasing waterfalls. Okay I know that was a hella corny joke, but this is a post about waterfalls. I kind of had to. Regardless, if you are anything like us, you probably want to see at least one good waterfall on your trip to O’ahu. To take out the guesswork for you I’m going to lay out the top 5 kid friendly waterfall hikes on O’ahu. Let’s dive in!
#1: Likeke Falls
Likeke Falls is an easy out and back hike located on the eastern side of the island. This hike will easily land itself among your favorite kid friendly waterfall hikes on O’ahu. There are a few ways to navigate to the falls and not all of them are easy. Check out my previous article for directions to the kid friendly entrance.
The hike to Likeke Falls is packed with a lush landscape and killer views of the Ko’olau mountain range. The trail is short and easy enough to keep even the smallest hikers engaged. You won’t have to worry about stepping aside for other hikers too often because this trail is mostly quiet in terms of traffic. The actual falls are breathtaking and can easily suck you in for hours.
The only downside of this hike is the amount of mud you will encounter. Where there is mud, there are tons of mosquitoes. Make sure to pack bug spray or in the words of Thumper the ski instructor, “You’re gonna have a baaaad time!” Also, if you like to keep the car mud free, an extra pair of shoes and baby wipes will do the trick. Just make sure to bring plastic bags to put your muddy shoes in.
#2: Manoa Falls
Manoa Falls is another easy out and back trail located on the southeast side of the island. This is a relatively short trail with a ton of beautiful things to see along the way. Between bamboo forests and walking through a tree, your kids are sure to be entertained the whole route.
Manoa Falls is a highly trafficked trail. You may have to step to the side frequently to let other hikers pass if you have younger kids tackling this on their own. There is also a bit of a steep incline and narrower path toward the end. Be sure to take your time in this area because it can get very slippery.
Much like Likeke, this trail has a tendency to get extremely muddy so follow the same packing guidelines. You will have to pay $5 for parking so be sure to have cash on hand. If your group still has energy after the trail, follow the road by the trailhead up to the right to go to the Lyon Arboretum. There is a wonderful garden to explore and a few extra trails.
#3: Waimea Valley
If going out on a muddy trail isn’t your cup of tea or you just want to put the kids in a stroller and walk to a waterfall, Waimea Valley is going to be your favorite of the kid friendly waterfall hikes on O’ahu. Located on the North Shore of the island, this paved 1.5 mile trail is easy for all skill levels.
Unlike the other trails, you will have to pay for each member of your party to enter. This trail is not just home to a waterfall though. You will walk through beautiful gardens, learn history about Hawaiian culture, and maybe even run into a peacock all before you reach the falls. The center offers complimentary walking tours so be sure to ask at the gate about times and availability.
As an added bonus you are allowed to go swimming in the falls which is a pretty cool experience. Be sure to pack a bathing suit, sunscreen, and towels if you plan on swimming. There is a lifeguard on duty and safety vests so you don’t have to worry about packing floaties. I would highly recommend taking the time to go for a swim because how often do you get that kind of opportunity, you know?!
#4: Jackass Ginger Pool/Judd Trail
Let’s get this out of the way first. Yes, it’s actually called Jackass Ginger…google it. Silly name aside, this mile long loop located just off the Pali Highway is another trail that will land itself among your families favorites.
Judd trail is relatively flat and easy to navigate which makes it perfect for younger kids. There is an adorable little waterfall at the beginning of the trail and another one when you get the pool. Even though you will have to climb down a bit of a hill to get the Jackass Ginger pool, it’s worth the stop. It is a great swimming hole, but try to keep the noise down for the neighboring houses.
If you are just headed in for the pools, return the way you came. If you want to complete Judd trail, hang a right back on the trail and walk around. The views here will not disappoint. We like to pack a picnic with us and have a nice lunch among the trees. If you choose to do the same, please be respectful and leave no garbage behind.
#5: Lulumahu Falls
If you still have energy after you complete the Judd trail or are looking for more of a challenge, drive about a mile up the road and head to Lulumahu Falls. This lightly trafficked 2 mile trail is the most challenging on this list of kid friendly waterfall hikes on O’ahu. I would recommend hikers under 5 years old be in a hiking carrier like this for the steeper and more difficult parts of the trail.
In addition to being the more challenging, Lulumahu Falls is also the least intuitive trail on the list. Be sure to either print a map from alltrails.com or follow a group of seasoned hikers. Keep in mind you will have to cross over the stream a few times so water resistant shoes like this option from KEEN will be helpful. Also, you will have to get a free permit to complete this hike which you can download here.
All of the difficult points aside, this hike is absolutely stunning. Along the way you will see some really awesome graffiti and countless picture perfect views. Take some time to let the kids splash around in the streams while you’re crossing for an added fun factor. This is the largest waterfall on the list so I personally think it’s the most stunning (even if it’s a bit more difficult to climb and navigate).
What Do You Think?
And that, my friends, is the list of the top 5 kid friendly waterfall hikes on O’ahu. Be sure to comment below and let me know if you have ever been to these trails and which was your favorite. Don’t forget to follow me on social media (seriously, my Pinterest be bumpin with kid friendly traveling info) and share my posts! If you love what you’ve read, subscribe to my email list to stay up to date on my latest posts. As always, thank you SOO much for reading about our family’s adventure out in Our Happy Place!