Hawaii is known for its beautiful waterfalls. In fact, Hawaii is home to hundreds of falls, many of which are breathtaking! If you ever have a chance to see them in person, you will surely be taken away by their beauty. One of the most beautiful waterfalls that Hawaii has to offer is located near Honolulu. Today, we are going to explore Lulumahu Falls and learn about the journey that it takes to get there.
Lulumahu Falls: A Real Hawaiian Treasure
Located at the back of Nu’uanu Valley sits an amazing waterfall that is truly worth seeing. Lulumahu Falls is one of the tallest waterfalls in the Honolulu area. At more than 50 feet tall, it is a real natural wonder! The land in which the falls are located on is considered private property and is owned by the Honolulu Board of Water Supply. This means that you will have to obtain a permit to visit the area. We will talk more about the permit later.
Getting To Lulumahu Falls Honolulu
Getting to the falls adds to the adventure! It is located in a remote area which keeps the falls a secret from many who don’t know how to get there. While the waterfall is difficult to get to, it is definitely worth the hike.
Start Your Journey On The Road
If you would like to visit the falls, you will have to take a drive down the Pali Hwy. The falls at located 5.2 miles from Honolulu and 7 miles from Waikiki. For those starting out in Waikiki, you need to take the highway and head towards Kailua.
Once on the road, you will need to take a right-hand turn onto Nu’uanu Pali Drive. Continue on this road which will take you to the end. At the end of the road, right before it rejoins the Pali Hwy, you will notice a parking area.
Park your car in the turnout and look for the hunter’s entrance. This will take you to the trailhead and your journey will begin! Remember, this is a serious hike so bring along the right shoes and be prepared to sweat.
Traversing The Lulumahu Falls Trail
The Lulumahu Falls Trail is a 2 mile out and back trail. You will experience an elevation gain of 879 feet, making it a moderately difficult trail to traverse depending on your fitness level. The trail is accessible year-round and provides a number of activities for you to enjoy. But before you plan a hike on the trail, make sure to check the local weather. Heavy rains could make the trail muddy and difficult to get down.
Once you have reached the head of the Lulumahu Falls Trail, which is part of the Oahu hiking trail system, your long hiking journey will begin. Although this trail is technically part of the trail system it is not sanctioned. This means that the trail and the land around it have restricted access and you are not allowed inside unless you have the proper paperwork.
Lulumahu Falls Hike Trail Map
Lulumahu Falls Hike Elevation Profile
Get A Permit
A Lulumahu Falls permit can be obtained by visiting the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife website. Those who do not have a permit could be fined if caught trespassing. Once you have the proper permit and you have reached the trailhead, you will need to be prepared for a major hike.
While you are on the hiking trail, you will pass through a beautiful bamboo forest. This part of the trail is an excellent place to take photos so make sure you bring your camera. You will also walk through old hunting grounds which has been used for many generations. This is a fascinating area of the state and you will surely enjoy all the views.
The Easy Part
While walking on the path, you will notice it starts to narrow and you will enter the dense bamboo forest. Some 100 yards down the path you will come across a path that branches off to the left. If you take this path, it will take you to a hill that has a mysterious stone staircase. As you crest the hill, you will have an amazing view of an old reserve which is another great place to take pictures! You will find tons of places to take cool pictures so make sure that you have enough memory on your phone or camera.
After you have taken in the view of the reserve, you will need to head down a dirt path. While walking down this path, you will come across a wall that is full of interesting graffiti. While some enjoy the graffiti, others feel it takes away from the natural beauty of the area. Once you have passed the wall, look for another set of stone stairs. Climb the stairs and look for a second trail. This trail will take you towards the falls where you will reach your final destination. Now the fun part really begins!
The Real Journey Begins!
The final leg of your journey is more difficult than the previous paths you have taken. This is what makes the journey so fun, but remember to be very careful. You should take a break before entering the final trail. Drink plenty of water and you may even want to stop and have something to eat. This is a great place to have a picnic which will give you plenty of energy to help you reach the top. Once you have rested, begin your final march to the falls.
On the last leg of the hike, you will have to continue traveling up the river. You will be crossing streams and hopping over rocks. Stay closer to the river and look for ribbons tied to trees. This will help guide you in the right direction. Avoid following any ribbons that take you away from the river. The trail will be difficult but well worth the view when you reach the top. You will get to the waterfall in about 15 minutes, depending on how fast you are moving. But remember to take your time getting there because the terrain can be difficult.
Before Going On A Lulumahu Falls Hike
Prepare Your Gear
Now that you know how to get to the waterfall, you will need to get prepared for your hike. You will need to put together a daypack for your journey. In your pack, you will need to bring water, some energy bars, a first aid kit, a towel, and don’t forget your bathing suit. Playing under the falls is super fun but you don’t want to do it in your hiking clothes.
Also, you may want to bring along a map of the area and a compass. Before you leave on your trip, go over the map and get familiar with the area. This will help you find your location much easier. A GPS unit will also come in handy if you happen to get lost on the trail.
In Case Of Emergency
In addition to these items, you should also carry some type of signaling device. An emergency whistle is a great signaling device that will help rescuers find you in case something goes wrong. You can carry your smartphone with you but keep in mind that you may not have great reception in some areas of the trail. Never depend on your phone when out in the wilderness.
Tell A Friend You Are Going On A Hike
While it is not advisable to hike the Lulumahu Falls alone, if you must, make sure you let someone know where you are going to be. Also, let them know when you are going to return. This will help keep you safe. If something does go wrong on the trail, help will be sent out to your location much quicker. On the other hand, if you go without letting anyone know about your plans, you might get stuck in the wilderness overnight or even longer. So always make sure that at least one person knows your plans.
Get A Lulumahu Falls Permit
As you have learned above, you will need to obtain a permit before you can hike to Lulumahu Falls. Those that fail to get a permit may find themselves in a whole lot of trouble. That’s why it is highly advisable that you get one.
A permit is needed to hike the Lulumahu Falls Trail because the area is an active hunting ground. This area of the island is one of the only boar hunting grounds available, making it very popular with hunters. In fact, it is the only legal public boar hunting area on Oahu. In order to balance the needs of hikers and hunters, permits are used to track foot traffic in and out of the area. Signage is posted at the trailhead which informs any hiker visiting the area that they need a permit before entering.
Respect Begets Respect
In the past, hikers without a proper permit have scared away wild boar which has greatly affected hunters. These boars are often driven out of the hunting area down into Nuuanu and Pauoa. The pigs often become a nuisance to the people who live in these areas. So if you are going to hike the Lulumahu Falls Trail, please do the right thing and get a permit before you go. Remember there are dozens of hiking trails in Oahu but only one public boar hunting zone. So, please respect others that use the area for the purpose of hunting.
To get a permit, you will need to go to the Hawaii Division of Forestry and Wildlife website. On the website, you will find a link that will take you to the permit page. There, you will be able to get a permit to access the trail. This permit is only good for one day and no overnight camping is allowed. The permit is free but you will need to pay a small processing fee that will cost you only $2.50. This will make your journey legal and you will not have to worry about getting caught in the area. Once you have your permit, your amazing journey can begin!
If you are the adventurous type, then you will really love Lulumahu Falls. This is one of the most beautiful spots in the state of Hawaii and hands down one of the top waterfalls. While the waterfall is amazing, the journey getting there is also something that you will always remember. So if you are looking for something to do in Hawaii, why not check out this impressive waterfall? You will be glad that you did!