Top Spots for Oahu Sunrises and Sunsets
The sun hits the horizon of the glistening Hawaii waters. Orange, pink, purple, blue: the spectrum of colors fills the sky. Sunrises and sunsets in Hawaii are almost always breathtaking. And they are also a cause to pause and appreciate the beauty of living in Hawaii.
Unlike some parts of the world and the continental Unites States (the “Mainland”), we do not have Daylight Savings Time in Hawaii, so the sunset and sunrise times do not fluctuate as much, enabling easier viewing. Throughout the year, the earliest sunrise in Hawaii is typically around 5:50 a.m., and the latest is around 7:15 a.m. For the sunset, the earliest typical sunset time in Hawaii is around 5:30 p.m. and the latest is around 7:15 p.m.
The angles and edges of Oahu create different views of the sun, and there are plenty of places to view the spectacular sunrises and sunsets. Here are our top places to view the sunrise or sunset on Oahu.
Sunrise Spot: Koko Crater
If you are ready for some exercise before the sunrise, grab your hiking shoes, water, and a head lamp and get ready for an epic view of East Oahu while watching the sun splash its vibrant colors over the Hawaii waters. Take the Koko Crater Railway Trail in Hawaii Kai up 1,048 vertical steps, which were former railway ties, to the World War II bunker at the top. Once you arrive, relax atop the bunker and gaze out into the distance at the panoramic view and sunrise. This hike is moderately difficult, so be sure you are up for the challenge.
Sunrise Spot: Sandy Beach
Around the bend from Hawaii Kai and past Hanauma Bay, lies the picturesque Sandy Beach. View the sunrise over the rocks, tide pools, and breaking waves, and enjoy the unforgettable experience. But don’t let the soft sand and sparkling waters fool you; the waves are fierce at Sandy Beach, and it is known among surfers to cause spinal injuries. Stay safe and admire the brave surfers and beautiful colors.
Sunrise Spot: Lanikai Pillboxes
A short but steep hike up to the Lanikai Pillboxes in Kailua offers an incredible, straight-on view of the sunrise over the Mokulua twin islands (the “Mokes”) popping out of the pristine Pacific waters. Grab your headlamp and go early, as the trail is popular during the day. The hike takes about 30 minutes to reach the first “pillbox,” which is a World War II bunker, and another 15 minutes to the second pillbox. Once you reach the top, you will have a panoramic view over the Lanikai neighborhood below and can gaze off into the incredible array of sunrise colors splashing off the ocean.
Sunrise Spot: Kualoa Beach
Past Kaneohe on the Windward side of Oahu, around some bends, you will find Kualoa Beach Park. Gaze out at the island called Chinaman’s Hat underneath one of the iconic palm trees. You can even rent a campsite and camp overnight while listening to the waves. Wake up to the vibrant colors and the perfect pictures on this almost untouched part of Oahu.
Sunrise Spot: Makapuu Beach Park
Take a short hike up the Makapu‘u lighthouse trail or pull off the side of the road while driving between Hawaii Kai and Waimanalo to view the best sunrise on Oahu. The paved path to the lighthouse is a fairly easy hike to accomplish in the morning, making it one of the best sunrise hikes on Oahu. Enjoy the rugged cliffs, the waving grass, the Honolulu islands in the distance, and the expansive ocean while the sun bursts into an array of colors welcoming the day.
Sunset Spot: Kapiolani Beach Park
At the far end of Waikiki near the Honolulu Zoo, lies a lush park once reserved for Hawaii royalty, so it is not surprising it is one of the top spots for the best sunsets on Oahu. Bring your pets and or your whole family to enjoy the bright bursting sun setting off in the distance of this expansive park – filled with fields, courts, and fitness areas. Or walk toward the shoreline to stumble across a paved path with a cute eatery and benches. Then watch the Oahu sunsets go below the waters while surfers try to catch a wave to the sun.
Sunset Spot: Ehukai Pillbox Hike
One of the best sunset hikes on Oahu is on the North Shore at the Ehukai Pillbox Hike, also known as the Sunset Pillbox Trail, because it has beautiful views of the world-famous surf break, Pipeline, below. This short, somewhat steep hike is strenuous but do-able for the entire family. At the top of the hike are defunct World War II bunkers that are now adorned with graffiti artists’ work. Park behind Sunset Elementary School and enjoy one of Hawaii’s best sunsets and hikes while viewing one of the world’s most epic surf breaks below.
Sunset Spot: China Walls
Hidden within the Portluck community of Hawaii Kai, China Walls is a rocky ledge to relax. Watch the surfers and cliff jumpers while the sun gracefully sets in the distance. Find the Koko Kai Mini Beach Park and park on the street. Walk down the unmarked but evident path and carefully step out on to the rocks below. Good balance and sticky shoes are advised to access this hidden Oahu treasure.
Sunset Spot: Puu Ualakaa State Park
Drive up the winding Round Top Drive in Makiki and stop at Puu Ualakaa State Park to be greeted with an epic, panoramic view of Honolulu – from Diamond Head to the airport – with the glistening Pacific waters as the background. There is a cemented path to easily access the view with a grassy area below to have a romantic sunset picnic.
Sunset Spot: Ala Moana Beach Park
Spend a day relaxing at the calm waters of Ala Moana Beach Park and end it with a spectacular sunset. Ala Moana Beach Park has a lot of family-friendly activities to enjoy – running, volleyball, tennis, BBQ areas, surfing, paddling, and more. And if you go there on a Friday night, watch the sunset and then head toward the Waikiki-side of the park to enjoy the Friday-night fireworks shoot off from Hawaiian Hilton Village.
Sunset Spot: Kaena Point
The most western point of Oahu – Kaena Point – offers incredible photographs and unique wildlife to enjoy. Make your way along the coast through Waianae and take the road all the way to the end; you will end at the parking lot to Kaena Point State Park. Then take the 30-minute walk along the rocky, lava-formed coast with picturesque tidepools to be greeted by a gated nature preserve. Enter the gate to observe the albatross, and you may even spot a monk seal. Settle in to the tranquil park – either on the beach or on a rock – and gaze out as the sun meets the water.
Sunset Spot: Sunset Beach
On the iconic North Shore of Oahu is one of its famous beaches and surf spots – Sunset – which is aptly named for its gorgeous sunsets. During the winter months, enjoy big waves and brave surfers. And any day of the year, view a colorful sunset from the long-stretching, wide beach in front of the beautiful Hawaii waters.