5 Makaua Falls Tips – Best Short Waterfall Hike on Oahu

The Makaua Falls hike is one of my favorites and, if the falls are flowing, is an incredible sight. This is only a one-mile out-and-back hike but you will be following the river and hopping rocks for a lot of it. Be very careful if it has been raining hard as the river can be intense and impassable.

Watch this video, it’s awesome:

1. Driving to Makaua Falls

Makaua Falls is in Ka’a’awa and you’ll turn onto Huamalani Rd, which is where the fire station is. This is a residential road so be very respectful of the residents. Park on the side of the road before the cul de sac at the end.

2. Finding the Trailhead

As you reach the end of the street just continue straight–there’s a house to the left and to the right and the trail is in between the two but closer to the left house. There is no trail marker so starting the hike can be confusing but if you continue through the tall grass you should see a trail.

3. When to Go

Definitely plan to go when there was been rain recently or the falls will not be flowing. On the flip side, if there has been a ton of rain the river will be dangerous and impassable, with flash flooding a possibility. the Makaua Falls trail is incredible because it’s short, beautiful, and the actual falls are super tall and in a very cool, peaceful alcove of sorts.

If you want to make sure the falls are flowing you can actually see the falls from Kamehameha Hwy (if it’s flowing).

4. Get Ready for Some Rock Climbing!

The best part is, right before the falls, there is a small pool, a small waterfall, and a steep incline that requires a rope to climb. This area is absolutely gorgeous and climbing the incline is very fun. After that there are a few other small climbs and then you will make it to a relatively small cove with walls hundreds of feet high. It does take a lot of rain but when there is a good amount of flow the falls are stunning. There’s not much of a pool at the bottom but the area is beautiful and worth relaxing in.

Makaua Falls Rope Section

5. Just Chill and Bring a Camera

I cannot overstate the grandeur of the Makaua Falls setting. This is not a very popular hike so it won’t be crowded. You’ll find yourself in a somewhat small alcove with walls stretching hundreds of feet high. You’re surrounded by jungle walls and when the falls are flowing they are absolutely magnificent.

For another similar hike with a rope swing, check out Maunawili Falls



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