A short summary: mud, huge trees, a waterfall and no dangerous animals combine to make for a great hike through the jungle.
Getting to the hiking path to Manoa Falls is just a short drive from the center of Honolulu: about 20 minutes. There’s a small parking area at the entrance where you leave your car for a few dollars.
First thing to remember: bring bug spray! As long as you sufficiently douse yourself, you won’t have to deal with flying creepy-crawleys that you’d expect to find in a jungle. Second thing: bring shoes that have good grip and can get muddy. The path is a bit slippery and there’s mud through parts of it, especially after the rain. Our shoes were definitely covered in mud by the time we made it back to the car. Third: bring a camera. The jungle there is very lush and beautiful. The huge trees make the setting feel like a scene out of the Jurassic Park movies (the original ones, not the new one which doesn’t seem to be all that good from the previews).
It took us between 1.5 to 2 hours to reach the waterfall and the same amount on the way back. If you’re extra adventurous, once you get near the waterfall, there’s a side path you can take that will take you to the top of the waterfall for an extra 2 hours of your time. (We weren’t that adventurous and the people who came down from that path were definitely much muddier than we wanted to be.) What we especially loved was that there weren’t dangerous creatures for us to worry about like big spiders or snakes (as far as we know, at least!). The hike was mostly straightforward with a slightly inclined path, followed by conveniently sized steps. However, toward the end, the steps were higher, sometimes broken, and a bit slippery. A few hikers had their children strapped to them, but I would not recommend bringing kids due to the more difficult and dangerous portion of the climb; the drop next to the path is quite steep.
It’s a great climb that’s suitable for most when the weather is good. When we went, there was a bit of mud but it wasn’t raining. I can imagine that rain would turn the hike into a much more dangerous feat.
Manoa Falls is very narrow, and about 150 feet high. I myself, don’t easily get impressed with waterfalls so my favorite parts were the beautiful trees. Some of the trees along the hike are just absolutely massive! My wife on the other hand really liked the waterfall. There is a no-trespassing in front of the pool at the bottom of the waterfall, but several people had jumped over the wires to hang out in the water.
If you have a few hours to spare, or enjoy hiking, Manoa Falls is worth visiting. Just make sure the weather is good, and bring bug spray!