Oahu Sunsets and Picturesque Views

From Honolulu to Haleiwa on the North Shore, the island unfurls stunning vistas. As evening draws to a close, find a spot on the beach or high on the ridges, and watch for the “green flash” as the sun kisses the Pacific.

Magic Island, Honolulu, HI 96814, USA
Less popular with tourists than Waikiki, but more popular with the locals, Ala Moana Beach Park is the location for citywide events like the Lantern Floating Memorial, Relay for Life, and occasional holiday fireworks displays. The park’s long strip of beach provides ample room for anyone to set up a beach umbrella and spread out a towel. Loads of people barbecue and make an entire day of the retreat from the city. I prefer to spend the evening walking out to Magic Island to look back at the Honolulu and Waikiki skyline while watching surfers test their boards in the gentle waves. Across the street from the park, shoppers will appreciate the Ala Moana Center Mall, where you can also find plenty of restaurants and dining establishments if you didn’t bring your grill.
1151 Punchbowl Street, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813
One of the most recognizable sites in Hawaii, this volcanic ash cone overlooks Waikiki’s coastline—a tectonic memory from an explosion half a million years ago, measuring almost 3,500 feet across. British sailors named it Diamond Head in the 1800s, mistaking calcite crystals in the crater’s soil for jewels. Despite its volcanic grandeur, the ascent takes most hikers an hour or so, clocking in at 560 feet of elevation gain and 1.6 miles round-trip. At the top, on a clear day, you can see all of Oahu’s south shore, from Koko Crater and Waikiki to the mountains of the Wai’anae Range.
Waialua, HI 96791, USA
Ancient Hawaiians believed their souls would leap into the spirit world from this lava shoreline on the western tip of Oahu. These days, people jump off here in gliders instead, soaking up views of the Waiʻanae coast to the south, Mokuleʻia to the north—and the glorious, denim-blue Pacific stretching from here to eternity. Take a 5.4-mile round-trip hike and check out the albatross sanctuary on Kaʻena’s wild coastal acreage (free to visit). Keep an eye out for monk seals, one of the world’s most endangered species, found only in Hawaii. Watch for their silvery-gray sausage shapes as they lounge on the beach, but give them space. Always retreat if a seal awakes, vocalizes, shies away, or tries to shield a pup.
Koko Head Park Road
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Kalaau Place
Escape the hubbub of Honolulu and stretch your legs on this 4.4-mile, moderate, out-and-back path. Somewhat steep, this serious glute workout attracts a lot of trail runners, especially on the weekends. The hike begins among rocks and small shrubs, then snakes among massive tree roots, before the dirt stairs near the top. The ridge unfurls gorgeous views of Waimanalo and the Nā Mokulua Islands, as well as Rabbit Island and Koko Crater. Note: drivers have to park in a residential neighborhood, then walk up an access road. Start early to avoid the heat and crowds, and make sure to bring plenty of water.
2760 Round Top Dr, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
You are lucky the sun only rises and sets once a day on Hawaii—otherwise, you’d spend all of your time transfixed by the horizon. Hike to the leeward (eastern) side of any island on a clear evening and train your eye over the ocean in search of the “green flash,” an optic phenomenon in which a green sliver of light hovers in the wake of the setting sun. (On Oahu, the remote Kaena Point is a good spot to see the flash.) Sunsets on Kauai, “The Garden Island,” make the beauty of the coastal surroundings even more poignant. If you rise early and tackle the Lanikai Pillboxes trail on Oahu or summit the volcano at Haleakala National Park on Maui, you’ll experience an unforgettable morning as the sun rises over the ocean for a new day.
Pupukea, HI 96712, USA
Intuition would tell you that the sun always sets in the west, but on the island of Oahu, Hawaii, the sun sets on the North Shore. In reality the area referred to as the “North Shore” is located more toward the western part of the island. The best place to watch the sunset is appropriately called Sunset Beach, and if the swells are up you can watch the sunset behind the surfers trying to catch the last waves of the day. In my opinion Sunset Beach is also a great place to stay if you are vacationing in Hawaii. There are a lot of houses for rent in this area and I prefer the vibe of the North Shore to that of Waikiki and Honolulu.
Round Top Dr, Honolulu, HI 96822, USA
My favorite part about living in Hawaii is the view from where I live. I am tremendously blessed to have the spectacular ‘perch’ that I do looking over Diamondhead, Waikiki, Honolulu, and past the airport to Ko’olina. If you are looking to see such a spectacular view of Southern Oahu, drive up Round Top Drive to Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park for sunset. You will find a large grassy area to share a picnic or lay back and watch the clouds roll by. Or you can stand up a bit higher at the lookout and identify all the places and roads you have been while in Honolulu. If hiking is more your style, there are plenty of trails up on this scenic route as well. Or, perhaps, you will just enjoy the curly queues and hairpins of the the Tantalus-Round Top Drive loop. No matter what you do, it is a refreshing reprieve from the busy scene in Waikiki!
Waimea Bay, Hawaii 96712, USA
Families gather at this North Shore cove—all golden sand and peacock-colored swells—in summertime. Adventurous types swarm the rocky headland—a riotous scene that resembles Where’s Waldo? or Richard Scarry’s Busytown—and jump into the ocean, despite warning signs. But in winter, they cede the ground to world-class surfers riding some of the planet’s biggest waves. Across the highway stretches historic Waimea Valley. Today it contains a low-key botanical garden, the ruins of traditional architecture, and a 40-foot sacred waterfall at the end of a two-mile out-and-back easy trail. Locals call it Waihee (softly trickling water) in dry periods and Waihi (purging water) when the pressure picks up.
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