When I was planning a trip to Oahu, experiencing some beautiful Hawaiian sunsets on my vacation was at the top of my bucket list. However, I didn’t realize on my first visit that, without proper preparation, my view of the Oahu sunset could be totally obstructed!
With this in mind, I’ve endeavored to list the 10 best places to watch the sunset on Oahu after doing all the “on-the-ground research.” Spoiler alert: the higher you can get and the more western-facing, the better view you’ll have!
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The best places to watch the sunset on Oahu
Most people visiting Oahu stay in the Waikiki area (South Shore). Therefore, the absolute best sunset views may require you to leave the hotel property, depending on the time of year.
Nonetheless, you can still find beautiful sunset spots in Honolulu–you just have to look toward the West. You can even request a west-facing hotel room, preferably on a higher floor, to ensure you never miss a sunset.
Here is our quick answer for the best sunset spots on Oahu:
- Waikiki Beach
- Ala Moana Beach Park
- Sunset Beach Park
- Kaena Point
- Shark’s Cove
- Waimea Bay Beach
- Koko Head Crater
- Tantalus Lookout
- China Walls
- Ko Olina Lagoons
1. Waikiki Beach
Start with one of the best places to watch the sunset in Honolulu: Waikiki Beach, known for surfing during the daytime and evening attempts to capture “the green flash.” This optical phenomenon occurs as the sun disappears on the horizon, creating about two seconds of green light.
Depending on the season, your hotel may not provide a clear view of the sunset, especially in summer. So, you may consider moving closer to Diamond Head or opting for a sunset cruise tour from Waikiki Beach.
Pro tip: we think the most fun place to watch the Waikiki Beach sunset is from North America’s longest oceanfront infinity pool at the Sheraton Waikiki (must be a guest)!
2. Ala Moana Beach Park
For a quieter sunset experience near Waikiki, consider Ala Moana Beach Park, conveniently located within walking distance of many high-rise hotels on Waikiki Beach.
With benches and palm trees, it’s a favored spot for tourists and locals, especially families. For an unobstructed view, head to the Magic Island Lagoon, ensuring a clear sunset panorama, even in summer.
3. Sunset Beach Park
Famous for hosting the Vans Triple Crown of Surfing each winter, Sunset Beach is one of the best North Shore beaches and is renowned for its sunsets. Conveniently near Haleiwa Town, you can enjoy dinner or shave ice before witnessing the vibrant sunset colors.
Personally, I love grabbing fresh poke and local craft beer for a picnic, easily sourced at Foodland Pupukea along your drive. Notably, the sunset viewing here is excellent year-round.
4. Kaena Point
Head to Ka‘ena Point State Park for two of Oahu’s best sunset hikes, accessible from West Oahu or the North Shore. Both approximately 5 miles long, taking 2-3 hours, they offer a rewarding panoramic view of Oahu’s western and northern shores.
Plus, this uncrowded location guarantees a clear view of the sunset throughout the year. Depending on the season, you may even encounter albatrosses or whales! For an ultimate Hawaiian sunset, time your hike to reach Ka‘ena Point at sunset, bringing snacks or a picnic.
Additionally, make sure to bring water, a jacket, and a flashlight or headlamp if hiking back after sunset. Note that the parking lot closes at 7 p.m., requiring a permit for parking after that time (don’t get locked in!).
5. Shark’s Cove
Shark’s Cove, a premier snorkeling spot on the North Shore, thrives in the summertime, offering diverse marine life like butterflyfish, parrotfish, surgeonfish, tang, sea turtles, and more.
In the evenings, as snorkelers head back to Honolulu, Shark’s Cove becomes a tranquil spot to enjoy the North Shore sunset. Facing west, it provides stunning sunset views year-round.
6. Waimea Bay Beach
Waimea Bay Beach, on the North Shore along Kamehameha Highway, ranks among Oahu’s best family-friendly beaches, ideal for snorkeling, swimming, surfing, and various water sports.
If you’ve been exploring the North Shore, it’s a perfect sunset-watching spot conveniently located on your way back to downtown Honolulu. In addition to the breathtaking sunset, you can observe thrill-seekers jumping off a giant rock on the left side of the beach.
7. Koko Head Crater
The Koko Crater Trail, leading to Kokohead Lookout, provides a challenging hike with stunning sunrise or sunset views. Note that the trail lacks shade, so hikers usually start early in the morning or two hours before sunset.
Be prepared with ample water, sturdy shoes, and a headlamp if you plan to make your way back down in the dark. Despite being a 1.6-mile roundtrip, the trail involves climbing 1,048 stairs on a steep incline, so take your time, especially on the descent.
At the top, enjoy panoramic views of Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay, East Honolulu, and Koko Crater. Just a reminder: we suggest starting your descent before sunset unless you have a good headlamp.
8. Tantalus Lookout (Puu Ualakaa State Park)
Tantalus Lookout, or Puʻu ʻUalakaʻa State Wayside, is a fantastic spot for watching the sunset in Honolulu, just a 15-minute drive from Waikiki. It provides a breathtaking view of the sun setting over the ocean, the Waikiki skyline, and the Diamond Head Crater.
Accessible via a winding road through Manoa, Tantalus Lookout is the best option in Honolulu for a scenic overlook with sunset views (Diamond Head is often closed at sunset). Arrive about an hour before sunset due to crowded parking.
The lookout features a grassy area for picnics, so bring a blanket and snacks. Check park hours, which are until 6:45 p.m. in winter and 7:45 p.m. in summer at the time of writing,
9. China Walls
The China Walls, lava-rock ledges and cliffs about 20 minutes from Waikiki, are a hidden gem and a top sunset spot on Oahu facing west. Located in the Hawaii Kai neighborhood, please be respectful to the residents by keeping noise levels down and taking safety precautions.
While you may see surfers or cliff jumpers, I do NOT recommend entering the waterdue to slippery rocks and rough waves. Wear water shoes for traction during the short walk from Koko Kai Mini Beach Park to the China Walls.
10. Ko Olina Lagoons
Staying in the Ko Olina Resort area on the west coast positions you perfectly for stunning Oahu sunsets. Among the top spots on the leeward side is the Ko Olina Lagoons, situated in front of resorts like the Four Seasons, Aulani, A Disney Resort & Spa, and Marriott’s Ko Olina Beach Club.
While popular for family-friendly activities during the day, the lagoons transform into a secret sunset-watching spot in the evening. Accessible to the public, note that parking is limited, and the lot closes promptly after sunset.
Are you looking for other top Oahu sunset spots?
These sunset locations on Oahu didn’t quite make the cut for our top 10 favorites, but they’re still highly worth a visit:
- Kualoa Beach Park: Although sunrise is even better from this location, paddling out to Mokoli’i Island (“Chinaman’s Hat”) and watching the sunset is a truly unforgettable experience.
- Kakaako Waterfront Park: Although there’s no beach here, this public park next to Ala Moana Beach Park is excellent for a sunset picnic.
- Ehukai Pillbox Hike: This 2.3-mile loop trail takes you by various WWII “pillbox” bunkers, ending with an incredible view of Ehukai Beach (Banzai Pipeline).
- Makua Beach: This beach is also called “Tunnels Beach” and is part of Ka’ena Point State Park on Oahu’s northwest coast. See the sunset without hiking to Ka’ena Point!
Quick tips for finding the best Oahu sunsets
- Keep in mind that Oahu’s best sunsets occur in western-facing areas, while the East shore offers ideal locations for catching the sunrise, such as Lanikai Beach, the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, and Makapu’u Beach Park.
- To determine whether your view will be blocked from a specific location, we recommend checking SunCalc. Generally, sunset in Honolulu will be sometime between 5:48-7:17 p.m.
- As sunset watching is a popular free activity on Oahu, check the specific sunset time for your chosen location and plan to arrive in advance (30 minutes to two hours beforehand).
Looking for more Oahu travel tips? Check out these guides!
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This post was first published in April 2022 and has since been updated.