…But we didn’t. And there’s a good reason for this, as much as that rope was calling for me to grab on, swing and yell from the top of my lungs.
On a sunny day in late April, E and I drove a half hour from Honolulu to Pearl City, Oahu. We were on a mission to hike to Waimano Falls.
The falls depend heavily on previous rain amounts. Some visitors have gone to the falls only to see a trickle while others go after a good downpour and get gushing water. The drawback for the gushing water is that the trail to the falls gets muddy and slippery.
We drove our little rental car to the end of a residential street that ended in a cul-de-sac. All we saw was a fence and a very forbidding gate with graffiti’d signs.
“Are you sure?” E asked me. “This doesn’t look right.” I also looked doubtfully at the gate.
Luckily, two hikers emerged from the trail as we were caught in our moment of indecision. The bottom half of their legs bore mud splotches and I knew we’d found the right place.
The first part of the trail was an easy, nicely paved walk with plenty of breathtaking lookout points to the valley below.
The trail slowly narrowed and became more dense as we headed down the mountain, with a thick canopy of trees providing much-needed shade from the sun. Our pace slowed as the trail became damp, then slick with wet leaves, then squishy and slippery with mud.
Apparently, there’s one tree spray-painted with “WF” and an arrow and a camouflaged sign somewhere, but we must have missed it. My eyes were glued to the path to avoid protruding tree roots and rocks. We had to grab onto trees and branches for balance. At one point, I was swinging from them like monkey bars as my legs flew out from under me.
We’d been gingerly picking our way through the forest when I heard it. There was the unmistakable sound of rushing water and we picked up the pace, invigorated, eager to find the swimming hole.
We had the pools almost entirely to ourselves that day, and a small waterfall was in force. The whole setup was made up of three multi-level pools, with a rope swing over the deepest one. The water was a rich, deep turquoise. But since no one else was there and I didn’t know how long the water had been sitting, we decided not to risk jumping into bacteria-infested stillwater.
Instead we climbed to the top of the falls and sat on the sun-baked rocks, cooling our feet in the refreshing water before it plummeted over the cliff, rinsing the mud splatter from our calves. The emerald pools beckoned below while lush green mountains closed in around us. It was perfect.
The way back was much faster, as we didn’t have to slowly pick our way down a mountain, testing footholds. In fact, despite many reviewers calling one section of the uphill climb “cardiac hill,” I found it much easier to go up. And the effort was nothing compared to Koko Crater Trail. We were back on concrete ground in less than 45 minutes. In all, we were probably parked for about three hours.
We did see two other hikers wearing flip flops to the falls as we were heading back. I would not recommend this option. The path is slick and you need as much grip as you can get. Plus, mud squishing between your toes? No thank you.