Lyon Arboretum and ‘Aihualama Falls in Oahu – Hawai’i

Lyon Arboretum and ‘Aihualama Falls in Oahu – Hawai’i

Go explore the Lyon Arboretum and ‘Aihualama Falls in Oahu, Hawaii. A biological and cultural ecosystem awaits you. Check out what to expect, how to get here, other places to see, and more. Do not pass on seeing local plants and the Falls! 

Lyon Arboretum is part of the University of Hawai’i and houses an extensive collection. Full of plants, trees, ferns, palms, trails, and waterfalls. Plan on seeing the islands diversity within its tropical rainforest landscape. Below is your guide on the Lyon Arboretum and ‘Aihualama Falls at Mãnoa. 

Table of Contents

The Lyon Arboretum

What To Expect

A small tropical landscape awaits you when you walk through the grounds at the Lyon Arboretum. So many people visit this lush island but never learn about the biological and cultural aspects that help to create what you see today. Without the dedication to helping and preserving the ecosystem, many of the plants, streams, or waterfalls you will see on the island can easily be destroyed. Either by the constant crushing of the weather on them or from humans lack of care. 

As you walk the Lyon Arboretum trail, you will come across the different sections of native plants, ferns, palms, and more. Take your time to view the different species of plants and trees that help to give shelter to the other animals present on the island. Out of the United States, Hawaii will only account for 0.2% of the landmass. What it dose account for though is that more than 25% of endangered species of animals and plants will only be found on Hawaii. 

Do not forget about the ‘O’o bird that was once present on the island of Kauai, Hawaii for example. Due to invasive species being introduced to the island, this bird had a drastic decline in numbers. So much in fact, that in 1987, scientists were able to record the last male ‘O’o bird singing for another, that would never come.

It is sad how we have this beautiful bird song in our archives and that is all. No more ‘O’o birds will ever sing it again. We have lost out on something magnificent and we continue to do so today. So please, respect the native species, ecosystem, and do not bring anything in that can harm it. 

Lyon-Arboretum-Garden

Lyon Arboretum has a great main trail that is maintained with cobble stone, grass, and gravel. Grab a map before you take off so you know which trail you are on and what section you are looking at. 

Lyon Arboretum Info

  • Location: 3860 Mãnoa Road, Honolulu, Hawaii 96822
  • Hours of Operation:
    • Monday thru Friday 8 a.m. to 4 p.m..
    • Saturday 9 a.m. to 3 p.m..
    • Closed for Sundays, Federal and State Holidays.
  • Fee’s:  Parking is $5 with the trail free if you walk in. 
  • MapTrail map of upper and lower grounds. 
  • Pets: Are not allowed.
  • Restricted: Swimming in the falls, or removal of any plants or the parts of plants from the premises. Bringing any plants or animals that can cause harm to the ecyostem. 

"To increase the appreciation of the unique flora of Hawai'i and the tropics, by conserving, curating, and studying plants and their habitats; providing inclusive educational opportunities; encouraging use by the broader community; and supporting the educational, scientific, and service activities of the University of Hawai'i.

The Mission of the Lyon Arboretum

Points Of Interest

Grab a Lyon Arboretum trail map before you decide to explore the grounds or hike to the falls. Right outside the visitors center is location 2 on the trail map, the Overlook and Native Hawaiian Plant Garden. Keep an eye out for the Shama Thrush bird or a Wild Indonesian Cockatoo. 

Following the Garden Trail, you will next come across point of interest 3, the Hawaiian Ethnobotanical Garden. These plants are associated with traditional Hawaiian Culture. An example of this is the taro plant, a main staple in their diet. Next, pass the great lawn to connect with the main trail. The next point of interest 7 will allow you to view Mãnoa Valley. 

Head off the main trail to see point 8, the Royal Palms. Considered to house the largest palm collection in the world. An interesting place to see is at point 11, near the ‘Aihualama Stream. This is the Economic Section with star fruit, durian, and guava plants. At the end is section 15, ‘Aihualama Falls, which hopefully has running water when you visit. 

Lyon-Arboretum-Trail

The trail can get slippery and muddy for the secondary trails and for the last section of the hike to ‘Aiihualama Falls. 

How To Get Here

Don’t have a car to get here, then take the #5 bus into the Mãnoa Valley. Get off at the last stop and then walk past Paradise Park to get to the Lyon Arboretum. This should only be around 0.6 miles and take you less than 30 minutes. 

Coming from the direction of the University of Hawai’i, then you will want to drive up University Avenue, which becomes O’ahu Avenue. Continue until you come to the 5 way intersection and take Mãnoa Road. This will take you to the Lyon Arboretum. Another option is coming from Kings Street. Take the left on Punahou Street and another left on Mãnoa Road. Follow this road to the site. 

'Aihualama Falls

What To Expect

As you make your way through the Lyon Arboretum Trail, if you hike till the very end, you will come across the ‘Aihualama Falls. This short trail is only 1.3 miles, in and out. In fact, it connects the Pauoa Lats Trail and the Manoa Falls Trail.  

Even though it is a short hike, it can be considered more on the moderate side since it dose have a higher elevation gain around 800 feet. Unfortunately, the downside to these falls is they can be dry, occasionally. When it rains or has in the recent past, then you can see the falls flowing with water. 

The ‘Aihualama Falls will not always have flowing water unfortunately, but the trails amazing scenery more than makes up for when it is dry. 

What To Bring

  • Good shoes with traction since the trail can get slippery or muddy. A second pair to wear after is a good recommendation. 
  • Comfortable cloths that can breathe or are quick dry. 
  • Water bottle or hydroflask. 
  • Insect repellent is highly recommended, especially if the bugs like to bite you. 
  • Camera or iPhone for pictures. 
  • A backpack to carry your things so that your hands are free. 
  • Grab a trail map from the visitors center when you sign in at the Lyon Arboretum. 

Other Places To Visit

Mãnoa Falls

A famous and well know place to visit is Mãnoa Falls, which has been features on movies like Jurassic Park and shows, such as lost. A easy 1.7 mile out and back hike is what you are expected to walk to see this waterfall. A plus is the great views as you hike. 

It dose look cool and you probably want to jump in the water? For you safety, please do not. Sudden landslides or rocks falling can always take place in or after harsh weather. Another reason to reframe from going into the water is due to bacteria that can cause you serve harm, like Leptospirosis. 

Considered to be an easier hike, but still practice caution when the trail is muddy or slippery. Yes, it can fine going up, but you do have to hike down some, so if it looks really slippery and you have kids, then maybe reconsider. 

Make sure to check before hand or at the Lyon Arboretum to see of the trail is closed. As of writing this article, the trail is only open Saturday’s and Sundays. Park in the Lyon Arboretum parking lot for $5 or take Bus 5 towards Mãnoa Valley, which should take you close to the trailhead start. The more busier times or holidays will see an increase in crowds, otherwise it is not too overcrowded. 

Diamond Head State Monument

A must see when visiting Oahu is the Diamond Head Crater. One of the islands distinct landmarks is Diamond Head, which was created from the Honolulu Volcanic Series some 500,000 to 150,000 years ago.

In the early 1900’s, the U.S Federal Government bought the land to use for military purposes. Next came the installation of cannon batteries and bunkers for the islands defense. It wasn’t until 1968, when the military handed over the landed and the Diamond Head State Monument was created. 

Want to see some amazing views and enjoy a great hike, then this is the one to do. Only costing $1 per person to enter, you can hike this trail to the top in under an hour to see Waikiki and more. Want to know more than check out Top 10 Things To Know About Diamond Head Crater Hike

Peral Harbor National Monument

Like history, then go see Pearl Harbor. Learn about how the attack on Pearl Harbor took place and visit the USS Arizona Memorial. Free entry for the visitors center, museums, and the USS Arizona Memorial program. 

Planning on visiting Kauai Island soon? Then check out our guides to two great hikes on the Island. The Sleeping Giant (Nounou) Trail and the Queen’s Bath: The Dangerous Yet Breathtaking Hike on Kauai. 

Where To Eat Close By

LuLu's Waikiki

This place has the best of both worlds with some great American food and an amazing view of Waikiki Beach. Lulu’s offers food for breakfast and brunch. A bar scene happens in the later hours of the night with live music on occasion. Portions can be large as well so if there is a few with you then try ordering a few things to share. Average prices with be from $11 to $30. 

Asia Manoa

Close by, off of East Manoa Road is this Chinese food restaurant. A moderate price establishment with outstanding food. Since it is located outside of the more busy Waikiki, it lacks the crowds from foot traffic. 

Where To Stay

Diamond Head Campground

Located in Crowdy Bay National Park, it is considered one of the most popular camping sites near Diamond Head. A site will cost $24 per night for 2 people, $12 extra for each additional adult, and $6 for kids (5-15 years old). With 75 sites to choose from, it can accommodate tents, campers, and vehicle roof top tents. 

Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel

Looking for a mid priced hotel then check out the Aston Waikiki Beach Hotel, located less than 2 miles away from Diamond Head State Monument. A perfect location to go explore other landmarks, hikes, or falls. Price range will be between $150 to $300 per night. 

The Kahala Hotel & Resort

For the more upscale accommodations, take a look at The Kahala Hotel & Resort. They offer a private beach for you to relax on. Known as the “Ka-hollywood” for all of the celebrities, presidents, and others who grace these premises. Expect to pay at least $600 per night and more. 

Don't Forget To Pin For Later!

Have you visited the Lyon Arboretum and ‘Aihualama Falls in Hawaii? Did you enjoy yourself and is there anything you would recommend?  Have any other activities or places we should see, let us know in the comments section. From Phoenix? Hi neighbor! Thanks for taking a look at our site and don’t forget to subscribe for future articles and tips. 

The information on this website has come from research and by experiencing it ourselves. Opening hours, closures, prices, etc. are always subject to change. We try to keep up to date on any new information, or tips to help make your adventure more enjoyable.
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Adventuresofwifesquared

My name is Shannon Curtis and I grew up in Southern California with the beach on one side and mountains on the other. My education background includes a B.S. In Biology with emphasis on conservation. I have been fortunate enough to have had the ability to work with rescued marine animals with the Los Angeles Conservation Core as well as participate in the research with CSULA. With my wife, Cam, we travel the world as much as we can and with it try to share the knowledge that we learn. Our love for spur of the moment trips started with 36 hours in Hawaii and have continued since. Along with my travel blogs, we share as many photographs on Instagram and info on YouTube. If you ever see us in the world, come say hi!

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