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Best Hikes On Oahu: The Waokele Pond Trail

Basic Information

  • Name: The Waokele Pond Trail
  • Where: Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens
  • Distance: 2 miles
  • Elevation Gain: 233 feet
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Cost: Free
  • Hours: 9:00 AM – 4:00 PM
  • More Information: Oahu Trails

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

Google Earth Image of the Trail

Hoomaluhia Garden Trail

Narrative

Oahu has a number of botanical gardens, but by far the largest is the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Garden in Kaneohe that I recently took by three and six year old to go and check out:

The name Ho’omaluhia means the “peaceful refuge” which this beautiful location definitely is.  The garden is 400 acres in size and packed with various short trails.  The best trail to check out is the Waokele Pond Trail.  Before heading out on any hike though make sure to stop by the park’s visitor center:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

The visitor center does not have much to see in regards to displays, but the volunteers that work there are extremely friendly and helpful:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

The visitor center also has maps of all the trails in the garden and kids can even sign out bamboo fishing poles to use in the pond.  From the visitor we then followed the sidewalk that is the beginning of the Waokele Pond Trail:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

The sidewalk portion of the trail passes through a nice garden of various plants that included bananas:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

There was also plenty of heliconia flowers to see as well:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

The trail also had many large leafy trees which on the day we were hiking helped us to hide from the rain that was falling at various times:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

Eventually the sidewalk ended and we followed a dirt trail towards these signboards on the shore of the pond:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

The signboards explained how the dam was built from 1976 to 1980 by the US Army Corps of Engineers to control flooding that had plague the Kaneohe area.  The fear of floods remains in Kaneohe with many signs like this one placed around the garden:

Picture from the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden

The day we visited the Waokele Pond was shortly after Tropical Storm Darby had hit Oahu.  The storm brought large amount of rain to the island and the erosion caused the pond to have a brown color:

Picture from the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden

Here is a panorama picture of the pond with the dam visible on the middle left:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

As we walked by the pond we were surprised when these pigs came out of the bush looking for an easy meal:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

The garden has signs up everywhere saying to not feed the pigs, but it is pretty clear that these pigs are used to handouts from people.  After checking out the pigs we then crossed over this small bridge:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

There was a small creek flowing underneath the bridge to the pond:

Picture from the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden

Like with many other fresh water bodies of water on Oahu, signs were posted warning of the dangers of leptospirosis which is a bacterial infection caused by pigs pooping in the water:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

From the bridge we just followed the signs to the fish area for the lake:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

As we followed the trail passed the bridge we spotted a few flowers to take pictures of:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

Once we reached the fishing area the clouds had parted a bit from the adjacent Ko’olau Range and we were treated to some incredible views:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

The cliffs or “pali” as they are called in Hawaii are just beautiful to see from the Kaneohe area:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

Here is a closer look at the palis:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

During heavy rains it is pretty incredible to see so many waterfalls cascading down the side of these cliffs:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

At Waokele Pond catch and release fishing is only allowed on weekends from 10AM – 2PM:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

There was plenty of people at the pond the day we visited trying to catch a fish:

Picture from the Ho'omaluhia Botanical Garden

A short distance passed the fishing area is where the Kaowele Pond trail ends at these signs:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

From the end of the trail we turned around and retraced our steps back to the visitor center:

Picture from the Ho'ommaluhia Botanical Garden

Conclusion

Overall the Waokele Trail ended up being an easy 2-mile round-trip hike that my three and six year old had no issues completing.  We also found the Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens to be a real gem of a location for families to check out.  My kids love visiting here and doing the hike down to the Waokele Pond to go fishing.  For those visiting the island with a limited amount of time this is not a hike I would recommend compared to using the time to instead check out other more popular trails such as Diamond Head Crater and Manoa Falls which have incredible scenery.  However, for those with kids and more time on the island, Ho’omaluhia Botanical Gardens is well worth checking out as well.

Note: Many more great trails on Oahu can be found by checking out my Oahu Regional Trail Finder at the link.

Note: More Oahu trail information can be read in the below book:

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