Staying in the Honolulu/Waikiki area and looking for a hike close-to-home? This is it! Manoa Cliff Trail winds through the beautiful, lush jungle of Tantalus, offering a short, 3.5 mile loop that is not overly strenuous but overflowing with beauty.

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The bamboo forest is one of my favorite parts of the Manoa Cliff Trail

Also known as Pu’uohi’a, Tantalus Mountain has something to offer every visitor, whether you choose to enjoy it by driving its winding road with the windows down, or whether you’re a birdwatcher, biker, garden and nature lover, hiker, or runner. With epic views of Honolulu, Manoa Valley, Diamond Head, and the Ko’olau mountain range, Tantalus Drive has frequent pull-off spots where drivers can stop to get cameras out and enjoy the view. The area gets more than 160 inches of rainfall per year, creating a lush, tropical environment that is cooler than the city and often wet.

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View from the Manoa Cliff Trail up Tantalus Mountain, overlooking the Manoa Valley on Oahu

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Be sure to pull off on your way up Tantalus and make use of the tree-top swings over the sprawling Honolulu skyline!

Your Manoa Cliff Trail adventure starts with the drive up the mountain:

Moss-draped trees, hairpin curves, bamboo forests, breathtaking views, massive jungle flowers, and a beautiful chaos of scents and bird songs create the unique jungle road up Tantalus Mountain. Drive cautiously, and roll down those windows so you can enjoy the jungle aroma!  You’ll start out on Tantalus Drive, which connects with Round Top Drive and leads to the Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park. The park, which is open daily from 7am – 7:45pm, features a hiking trail, a picnic area, restroom facilities, and a viewing area with a raised pavilion offering sweeping views of Honolulu and the surrounding areas. It is a great sunset watching spot, so stick around after your hike to take in the view!

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Wild ginger is one of the sweetest scents in the jungle!

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This gnarled old tree is one of the beautiful discoveries to be found along the Manoa Cliff Trail

 The Manoa Cliff Trailhead is off of Round Top Drive, and there is a pull-off area across the street for parking. There is a small brown sign marking the trail — drive slowly so you don’t miss it! The trail winds through the forest with occasional “pop-outs” into clearings with unbeatable views.

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Watching the sun set over the Honolulu skyline from Tantalus Mountain is a sublime experience!

Get to the Manoa Cliff Trail

Directions: From Waikiki, take McCully St over the Ala Wai Canal. Turn left on Beretania Street. Continue a few blocks and then turn right onto Punahou Street. Turn left onto Nehoa St (at the traffic light). Follow it for three blocks and then turn right onto Makiki Heights. In one block, you’ll come to a fork in the road (by a park). The road becomes Round Top Drive here. It is a 9-mile loop road through the mountain (Round Top Drive and Tantalus Drive) so you can take either fork.

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Having an adventure bestie to take along on your hike is essential!