Vine-encrusted trees, wild ginger, and huge ferns populate lush rain forest in the mountains just beyond bustling Honolulu. Rain forest tours—on foot or by vehicle—help visitors navigate this natural landscape in search of waterfalls, epic valley views, and even hidden templates. Here are your options for Oahu rain forest excursions.
Waterfall Hiking Tours
Join a group trek departing Waikiki for the ridge trails of Oahu’s Ko’olau Mountains set alongside streams, swimmable natural pools, and ancient Hawaiian rock terraces. You’ll learn about jungle herbs, fruits, and plants important to Hawaiian culture on your guided, round-trip journey. If you’re looking for waterfalls, take a guided trek through Manoa Valley to its impressive 150-foot (46-meter) waterfall, or head to the Waimea Falls’ landscaped gardens and rain forest paths on the North Shore.
Set out by jeep or 4x4 to head deep into the rain forest and down rugged roads off limits to most rental cars. Choose a circle island tour to hit a mix of rain forest hikes and sightseeing highlights (such as Hanauma Bay, Diamond Head, and the tucked-away Byodo-In Temple), or select a custom itinerary to lesser-visited sites like the North Shore wilds seen in the six-season TV show Lost. On Kualoa Ranch tours, safari-style vehicles traverse jungle landscapes so gnarly that it doesn’t take much imagination to imagine the area as a refuge for dinosaurs; in fact, the setting was a filming location for Jurassic World.
Things to Know
- Though Oahu’s weather is generally sunny and hovers around 80°F (26°C) year-round, it’s best to come prepared for rain with a light jacket or poncho.
- Regular rain (especially during the winter rainy season) can muddy hiking paths and trails, making them slippery. Sturdy, closed-toed shoes (avoid flip-flops!) are a must.
- Some tour guides carry and offer mosquito repellant.
- Rest assured that Hawaii’s tropical rain forests are free of snakes.
- Prolonged, heavy rains can wash out trails and cause dangerous flash flood conditions. Listen to your tour guide to avoid dangerous situations.