Manana starts at the end of Pearl City and offers one of the best views on the island after a long trek through a diverse group of plant life. Featured in the center of the island, Manana is a 12 mile loop with many climbs and an excellent ridge section that leads to its summit. August and September may be the best times of the year to complete the trail as that is when the strawberry guava will be in season. On my last trip just a week ago, I saw well over 200 ripe fruits near the trail head alone. Although this is long trail, you will be walking in the shade the majority of the time. Once you get to the open ridge section, you will very likely be surrounded by clouds and it is also often very windy. Although the clouds make the journey easier, it makes the view seen here extrememly rare. The summit is often completely surrounded in clouds. But, on rare day or moment it is clear, you will be provided with an excellent view of the windward side of the island that stretches to Makapu’u, the Eastern most point on the island.
Bus: From Honolulu, take the A bus headed towards Waipahu. Exit at Waimano Home Rd. stop and transfer to the #53 bus headed North on Waimano Home Rd. Exit at Komo Mai and ‘Auhuhu street and walk to the end of Komo Mai street.
Driving: (From Stuart Ball’s Hiker’s Guide to Oahu) At Punchbowl St. get on Lunalilo Fwy (H-1) heading ewa (west). Near Middle St. keep left on Rte 78 west (exit 19B, Moanalua Rd.) to Aiea. By Aloha Stadium bear right to rejoin H-1 to Pearl City. Leave the freeway at exit 10, marked Pearl City / Waimalu. Turn right on Moanalua Rd. at the end of the off-ramp. As Moanalua Rd. ends, turn right on Waimano Home Rd. At the third traffic light and just before the road narrows to two lanes, turn left on Komo Mai Dr. The road descends into Waimano Valley and then climbs the next ridge. Drive through Pacific Palisades subdivision to the end of the road. Park on the street just before the turnaround circle.
The trail starts on concrete and there may be many bikers and dog walkers in this section. You will have many lookout points near the beginning of the trail that offers views of neighboring ridges. Keep left to continue the trail or you may go right for a short trip to a swimming hole. Although this side trip is only .75 miles long, you will descend a steep rooted hill. Climbing back up is fairly strenuous. About half a mile after the concrete section, the trail becomes narrower and you will not have many chances to deviate. Simply follow the remainder of the trail.
Prepare to climb. There will be many hills that you will have to go up and down on. There are around 10 ropes on the trail, but they are not essential to reach your goals. There will always be many plants and sometimes rocks that will help you climb. You will never be climbing while near an edge of the trail so danger is very low. Be prepared to climb both ways as well. The trip back on the trail requires you to climb all the hills you descended on your way to the summit. The trip to summit will take between 4 and 5 hours while the trip back can take over 3.5 hours. Start the trail early and keep a flashlight in your bag just in case you are on the trail when it gets dark.
The trail can be divided into 3 different parts in increasing difficulty. There’s an easy stroll to the picnic table that is about 1.5 miles long. The next 2 or so miles increases the steepness of the hills and muddy sections will be introduced. It is never frustratingly muddy, but be prepared to have mud up to your ankles at certain points. The last part of the trail is a walk on the ridge. You will be out in the open and it may be very windy to the point where it is impossible to breathe if you are facing the wind. There will be more overgrown sections on the ridge and at times you will have to duck under branches. You may be walking in the clouds during your whole trip on the ridge.
There will be many opportunities to see a variety of plant life and select number of birds. Unless time is an issue, take opportunities to look around the trail to discover many hidden treasures.
The length and steepness of certain points of the trail qualifies this as an advanced trail. But there is never any danger and the steep sections are not tiring on a steady pace. You will be well rewarded for taking your time on this trail and also if you finish. The view from the summit is often hidden in clouds, but some patience will give you glimpses of the windward side of Oahu. On an extremely rare day, you will enjoy more than just moments of excellent views. Despite the high liklihood of clouds at the summit, this trail remains the author’s favorite hike on the island in his short hiking career.
Explorers: Marvin Chandra
All photos by: Marvin Chandra