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Kahekili to Manamana Loop


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Updated: September 9, 2019

Disclaimer: If this hike is not a part of the Na Ala Hele "State Maintained" Trails, it may be illegal or dangerous to hike, so do not attempt or HIKE AT YOUR OWN RISK. Hik3beasthawaii is not responsible for any injuries, fines, violations you may incur. This website is solely to showcase the beauty that nature has to offer on the island of Hawaii. *****

Location: Starting at the Swanzy Beach Park, a difficult loop with great views of Kaaawa. An alternative route to the Pu'u Manamana Trail.

Type: Forest/Ridge hike

Hike Difficulty: Advanced

Total Time: 5 to 6 hours round trip

Distance: ~ 5 miles

Elevation: ~2100 feet

Things to Consider

  • Kid friendly: no
  • Pet Friendly: no
  • This hike has some of the thinnest ridges on the island. Crawl if you have to.
  • This hike is very overgrown with lots of Uluhe ferns once you pass the waterfall. Bring pants or expect to get scratched up.
  • Lots of uphill and steep climbs. Elevation is gained really fast.
  • This hike passes through a neighborhood so please be courteous of the neighbors.
  • Go on a clear day, or you may not be able to see the beautiful Kahana Bay and Kaaawa beach line. Sometimes the clouds cover the view.
  • The loop hike contours around and down the Pu'u Manamana Ridge line. There are a lot of points where you can stop to turn around i.e. the to of Kahekili or the waterfall.
  • Watch out for the Kukui plants all over the Kahekili Ridge. They are extremely difficult to get off of your clothes.
  • The waterfall is usually dry so don't expect a nice waterfall. The only time it is flowing is after a flash flood, but it can be dangerous heading up Kahekili in these conditions. Go at your own risk.
  • The waterfall drops thousands of feet down, so don't go too close to the edge or you will slip and fall to your death.

Your hiking backpack

  • 3 Liters of water
  • Snacks/lunch
  • Gloves if needed for ropes and rock sections
  • GoPro camera
  • Pants/Long sleeve shirt
  • Sunscreen
  • Headlamp
  • GPS tracker if needed


Take Kamehameha Hwy towards Kaaawa. Then park at Swanzy Beach Park. Continue walking on Kamehameha Hwy past the basketball courts and then cross the street. Continue on the road then take a left into the neighborhood on to Huamalani Road. If you reach the Crouching Lion Inn you have gone too far. At the end of the road, you will see a trail through the brush. The start of the trail is the same as the Makaua Falls hike.

Our Journey

See the Makaua Falls trail for directions to the lower part of this hike. You will be amazed if you go after a flash flood or heavy rain! We had done the falls hike not too long before and decided to head up towards the ridge. None of us had done the loop before, but I have read write ups about it and it seemed pretty straightforward. One thing I wish I knew before I started was how had the overgrown Uluhe ferns were on this hike. The HMTC hadn't cleared this trail in a while so the ferns were crazy over your head! However, it was only after you pass the falls. The crossover also took longer than I anticipated and it started to rain cats and dogs on our way down Pu'u Manamana. Definitely an epic hike, but be forewarned it is not an easy one. We headed up Kahekili from the neighborhood pretty fast. We gained elevation drastically and stopped for pictures and took lots of breaks. Within an hour or so, clouds rolled in and they were black clouds. We decided to stop for a bit on top Kahekili to see if it would pass. It rained for a good ten minutes or so and then it cleared up. We decided to continue, but the rain would come back. The ridge line on the right is amazing and I knew that was the ridge we would be heading back down. After reaching the waterfall, I assumed that was the half way point. We used a lot of energy climbing up Kahekili, we had to rest for a bit. We had no idea what was in store for us after that. Our pace drastically slowed as the Uluhe ferns became extremely overgrown. It was like that the whole way to the crossover. We took a right to head down Pu'u Manamana. The path was still overgrown and the Uluhe ferns were cutting into our legs and arms. Finally after a grueling 4 and a half hours, we reached the first notch! No more ferns, but the black clouds came back. We heading up the last notch and we were covered in clouds! No views on either side of the ridge, which was scary because I knew how skinny the ridge was. Then it started to pour! We literally had to crawl our way down the ridge, hoping that we wouldn't slip and fall to our deaths. After carefully making our way down the ridge in another 2 hours or so, we did it! We made it down to Crouching Lion and through the forest onto the street. Then we had to walk all the way back to our cars. We were tired, slashed, dirty, delirious, but we felt accomplished! We stopped by the 7-Eleven across the street and feasted on everything in sight! What a day we would never forget.





















At the end of Huamalani Road, there was a faint trail which leads into the forest.






















Shortly after, the trail splits. Head left to go up Kahekili Ridge. Going straight will take you to the Makaua Falls trail.






















Follow the path up and eventually you end up on the ridge.






















If you look back, you can see the adjacent right in the distance. This is the ridge you will  be heading back down to complete the loop.






















After you get out of the forest, look back for a beautiful view of the water line!






















Kahekili Ridge is very steep and you gain elevation really fast.




























Quick selfie before we started sweating like crazy.




























Somewhere above there is the Crouching Lion hike!






















The only other hikers we saw on this hike. I think they turned around at this point.






















We stopped to chat for a bit, then continued on our journey.




























There was even a hidden bunker on our way up!




























It looks more difficult than it really is.




























After sweating like a pig and taking lots of breaks, we reached the top of Kahekili!






















The dark clouds started to roll in out of nowhere!




























Why not take a selfie while waiting for the rain to pass? Lol




























These flowers were so beautiful! Only can be seen on a hike in the mountains!






















We decided to continue, despite what our instincts told us.

We should've headed back while we still could.




























But first, a snack!




























What a breathtaking view before the clouds covered it all up.




























The trail ahead looks treacherous, but were ready for anything!




























Surrounded by clouds for just ten minutes.






















There was a minor "notch-like" rock that we had to contour.






















It looks like you need to climb up and over it, but there is a detour around the right side.






















Here's a closer look at it.




























Just a little rock climbing action.




























After contouring around the right of the rock,

we climbed up for a closer look at the view.




























Nice rock. I wonder if it's scalable?






















After about another half hour or so, we reached the waterfall!






















The stream was just a trickle, but we were glad to know

that we were half way through the hike!






















It looks like there could possibly be a bigger waterfall above in the back of the valley. But we'll save it for another day. Time was slipping by for us.



























Looks like the view from Upper Manoa Falls, but I'd chose this view any day.




























I forgot to mention that these things stick to your clothes from the Kahekili portion of the loop. The Kukui Plants! They are so hard to remove and irritating!




























I guess I didn't take any pictures of the part after the waterfall since by GoPro was dying. But be prepared for cuts and scratches from the dense Uluhe Ferns the whole way until the second notch. Take a right once you reach the cross over! For a more in depth description of the ridge and the cross over, see the Pu'u Manamana Loop hike.




























This was on top the second notch. The clouds covered our view from both sides.






















This was our view. Looking like Silent Hill.




























Onto the first notch. Probably the best spot for a picture on the hike.




























Another one for the books. One of my favorite shots on this hike!






















Then it started pouring rain, and we were scared for our lives!

But we went down the ridge slow and steady.






















Not knowing what lies beneath, now that was a real adrenaline rush!






















You can see how thin the Pu'u Manamana Ridge is in this shot! Crazy!






















Heading down the ridge in the rain and with only a ten-foot sight distance!






















Crawl or fall! That was the motto for this hike!




























I think after that my GoPro died.

But here's some shots from a more sunny Pu'u Manamana Hike.




























This is Pu'u Manamana during good conditions.






















Imagine doing that with pouring rain and the trail is super slippery.

We were asking for a dying wish.




























The final thirty minutes of the hike never looked so good. Soon we would be back on the road through the forest and back to our cars. For a full blog post to Pu'u Manamana from Crouching Lion click here.

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Contact Us:
Kahekili to Manamana Loop
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Contact Us:
Kahekili to Manamana Loop
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Kahekili to Manamana Loop
Related hikes you might like.
Follow us for more adventures!!!
Kahekili to Manamana Loop
Related hikes you might like.
Follow us for more adventures!!!
Contact Us:
Kahekili to Manamana Loop
Related hikes you might like.
Follow us for more adventures!!!
Contact Us:
Kahekili to Manamana Loop
Related hikes you might like.
Follow us for more adventures!!!