18 Best Places To See The Sunset In Oahu, Hawaii

As the sun sets on the beautiful Hawaiian island of Oahu, there’s no better way to end your day than by watching the golden rays of sunshine disappear into the horizon over the ocean.

With so many beautiful beaches and parks to choose from, it can be tough to decide where to go for the best sunset experience.

Best Beaches & Parks To Watch The Sunset

If you don’t fancy hiking to a specific location to watch the sunset then you’ll be pleased to know that there are plenty of great beaches and parks from where you can relax and enjoy this incredible sight.

1. Ko Olina Lagoons

📍 Location: Ko Olina, Kapolei

Ko Olina Lagoons is a must-visit destination for anyone looking for a beautiful sunset experience on the island. The lagoons are man-made, and there are plenty of picnic tables and palm trees to relax under.

You can see the sunset over the ocean, and the view is breathtaking. The water is calm and clear, making it an ideal spot for swimming or snorkelling. Plus, the lagoons are surrounded by several upscale resorts, so it’s a great spot to grab a drink or a bite to eat while you take in the beautiful view.

2. Waikiki Beach

📍 Location: Waikiki, Honolulu

Waikiki Beach is one of the most famous beaches on Oahu, and it’s also a great place to watch the sunset. The beach is located in the heart of Honolulu and has a long, wide stretch of golden sand that’s perfect for sunbathing, swimming, or surfing.

You can watch the sunset over the ocean while enjoying a mai tai or another tropical cocktail at one of the beachside bars or restaurants. The view is unbeatable, and the atmosphere is always lively and fun.

3. Ala Moana Beach Park

📍 Location: Downtown Honolulu

If you’re looking for a great view of the sunset, head to Ala Moana Beach Park. The park is on the west side of Oahu and has one of the best sunset views on the island. The park has plenty of water activities, including stand-up paddleboarding, kayaking, and swimming.

It’s also home to several picnic areas, playgrounds, and a large grassy field that’s perfect for picnics or playing catch. The sunset over the ocean is the perfect end to a full day of activities at the park.

4. Shark’s Cove

📍 Location: Pupukea, Haleiwa

Shark’s Cove is a popular spot for snorkelling and diving during the day, but it’s also a great place to watch the sunset. You can see the sunset over the tide pools, and the view is stunning.

The beach is surrounded by rocky cliffs, and the sunset casts a warm glow over the rocks and water. Plus, the beach is relatively secluded, so you can enjoy the sunset in peace without the crowds that often gather at other popular sunset spots.

5. Kualoa Beach Park

📍 Location: Kaneohe, Koʻolaupoko

Kualoa Beach Park is a beautiful beach on the northwestern tip of Oahu. It’s off the beaten path, but it’s worth the drive to see the beautiful sunset. The beach has a great view of the ocean, and the sunset is the perfect way to end your day.

The beach is relatively secluded, and there are plenty of picnic tables and areas to relax and enjoy the view. Plus, the park is surrounded by lush, green mountains that make for a stunning backdrop to the sunset.

6. Makua Beach

📍 Location: Waialua District

Makua Beach is a beautiful beach on the west side of Oahu. It’s a great place to watch the sunset and has a perfect spot for a sun dip. The beach has large waves, so it’s not ideal for swimming, but the sunset view is worth it.

Makua Beach is surrounded by towering cliffs and has a rugged, wild feel to it that’s perfect for nature lovers. You can watch the sunset over the ocean and see the warm, golden light cast over the cliffs and water.

Plus, the beach is relatively secluded, so you can enjoy the sunset in peace without the crowds that often gather at other popular sunset spots.

Best Hiking Spots To Watch The Sunset

For an unforgettable sunset experience on Oahu, I highly recommend hiking to a viewpoint.

Viewpoints tend to be less crowded than beaches and beach parks, making them an excellent option for those looking for a unique perspective and more space to enjoy the sunset.

7. Lanikai Pillbox

🛣 Difficulty: Moderate 
Est Duration: 1 Hour (roundtrip)

Lanikai Pillbox Hike is a great hike that starts out on a small street by the Mid-Pacific Country Club in Oahu, about 40 minutes from Honolulu by car. The hike got its name because there are two old military pillbox bunkers that you will pass on the way up.

This hike is considered to be moderately challenging due to some steep sections and parts of the trail with loose gravel, but overall this is a hike that many people can accomplish. It’s also a very popular hike, so you may find that the trail is crowded even at sunset.

There isn’t much shade along this trail, so it’s a good idea to wear sunscreen and a hat for your hike. Be cautious coming down, as the trail can get slippery. From the top point, you’ll be rewarded with incredible views of the Mokulua Islands and Lanikai Beach.

8. Kaiwa Ridge Trail

🛣 Difficulty: Moderate 
Est Duration: 2 Hours (roundtrip)

Kaiwa Ridge Trail is the longer extended version of the Lanikai Pillbox Hike if you are looking for something more challenging.

This hike starts exactly the same way as the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, and you will reach the same viewpoint where you can see Mokulua Islands and Lanikai Beach at the second pillbox. However, the trail then continues along Kaiwa Ridge.

Most people turn around after the second pillbox on the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, so by continuing on you can enjoy similar views along the ridge with fewer crowds. The ridge offers beautiful panoramic views of the surrounding beaches and islands.

You can either descend via Lanikai Beach or Kamahele Street depending on which direction you take the trail. If you’re looking for a longer hike that offers amazing sunset views in Oahu, the Kaiwa Ridge Trail is one of the best ones to do.

9. Diamond Head State Monument

🛣 Difficulty: Moderate 
Est Duration: 1 Hour (roundtrip)

Diamond Head State Monument is one of the best places to see the sunset near Waikiki Beach on Oahu. This hike might appear challenging because sections of it are very steep, but it’s a short hike overall and the views from the top are extremely rewarding.

Entrance to Diamond Head State Monument is $5 for non-Hawaiian residents and includes parking in the parking lot. The hike starts on an even, paved path but that gives way to a steep, uneven switchback trail. There are also stairs that you will need to climb on this hike.

But as long as you’re in decent physical condition, this is not too challenging of a hike to complete. Diamond Head State Monument is one of the best sunset hikes in Oahu because once you reach the top of Diamond Head, you’ll be treated to 360-degree panoramic views of the island and the surrounding beaches. 

This is a very popular trail, so be prepared for crowds if you are hiking during the high season. However, there’s a reason this hike is so popular and the views are worth it.

10. Tom Tom Trail

🛣 Difficulty: Challenging
Est Duration: 4 Hours (roundtrip)

Tom Tom Trail is a great spot to see the sunset, but keep in mind that this trail is technically off-limits to the public so you should proceed at your own risk.

The hike begins at the Makapu’u Lookout parking lot, about 25 minutes from Honolulu on the eastern side of the island. Since it’s a fairly long hike (4 hours roundtrip) you will want to start this hike with plenty of time if you plan to see the sunset.

This trail winds its way up along ​​the Ko’olau Mountain Range, offering great views of Makapu’u Beach, Rabbit Island, and the ocean. It’s not as crowded as other Oahu sunset hikes, so you will be able to enjoy the views all on your own.

There’s also a very scenic “puka” on this trail, which is a large hole in a natural rock formation that frames a picturesque view of the beach. It’s a very popular spot for taking photos along this hike.

11. Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail

🛣 Difficulty: Easy 
Est Duration: 1 Hour (roundtrip)

Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail is an easy hike with spectacular views of the sunset. Located at the southeasternmost point of Oahu, this trail is about a 25-minute drive from Honolulu.

The trail is located within the Kaiwi State Scenic Shoreline and is named for a small lighthouse on a rocky outcropping, as you probably guessed from its name. This short hike is on a completely paved trail, making it accessible to hikers of all fitness levels.

It’s also only two miles round trip, and although some of the trail is fairly steep going uphill, this is not a challenging hike. When you reach the top, you’ll be greeted with scenic views of the Pacific Ocean and the lighthouse from the observation deck.

One thing to note about this trail is there’s no shade, so it’s a good idea to wear lots of sunscreen and a hat. It’s also recommended to bring a pair of binoculars because you can often see whales from the lookout point at Makapu’u Lighthouse!

12. Top Of Koko Head Crater

🛣 Difficulty: Challenging
Est Duration: 2 Hours (roundtrip)

The Koko Head Crater hike is known for being the “Stairmaster of Oahu” because it’s a steep hike with many steps. But if you don’t mind the strenuous early-evening workout, it’s one of the best places for sunset views in Oahu.

This steep climb consists of more than 1,000 stairs and has an elevation gain of over 275 metres (900 feet) so it’s a challenging hike. But when you get to the top, you’ll be treated to stunning views of Hanauma Bay down below.

The trail that you’ll be following is actually an old railway track that forms more than 1,000 steps going uphill. The railway track was originally built during World War II, but it is now only used for this popular hike. There’s one section of the trail where the tracks turn into a bridge passing over a ravine, but you can go around this section (and most hikers do!)

Other than that, the danger of Koko Head Crater is simply how steep it is. There’s also very little shade, so come prepared with sunscreen, a hat, and more water than you think you’ll need to enjoy the sunset at this impressive viewpoint. 

13. Manoa Falls Trail

🛣 Difficulty: Easy
Est Duration: 1 Hour (roundtrip)

Manoa Falls Trail is a popular hike that is located right near downtown Honolulu. This is considered to be an easy hike that is appropriate for all skill levels.

However, one important thing to note is that the trail is often muddy, especially if it has been raining a lot lately. So it’s important to come prepared for this hike with the proper footwear.

It costs $5 to park in the Manoa Fall Trail parking lot. If you are coming for sunset, it’s a good idea to also bring a flashlight with you as the lighting going back down the trail could be minimal. Once you hike the mile from the trailhead to the waterfall, you’ll enjoy a beautiful tropical jungle-like view.

14. Mau’umae Trail

🛣 Difficulty: Challenging
Est Duration: 5 Hours (roundtrip)

The Mau’umae Trail, also known as the Pu’u Lanipo Trail, is one of the most challenging on this list of the best hikes in Oahu to see the sunset, but it’s also one of the most rewarding.

Given how long this trail is, you’ll want to give yourself plenty of time if you want to make it to the peak in time for sunset. While the trail itself is easy to follow, be aware that many sections are very narrow and have a steep incline, and some segments are so steep that they require some basic rope climbing.

The challenging nature of this hike is what makes it recommended for experienced hikers only, but if you’re able to do it, you’ll enjoy amazing views with no one else around.

One thing to note about this hike is that proper attire is a must. The trail can be very narrow with a thick brush all around, so you’ll want to wear long pants and long sleeves to protect your skin as much as possible.

15. Tantalus Lookout

🛣 Difficulty: Easy
Est Duration: 10 Minutes (roundtrip)

Tantalus Lookout is one of the best places to see the sunset in the Honolulu area. Located just a few miles from Waikiki Beach, this scenic lookout in Puu Ualakaa State Park is one of the most accessible sunset spots on the island.

That’s because you can drive all the way up to the top, and walk just five minutes from the parking area to reach the lookout. This is a great place to see views over downtown Honolulu, the Diamond Head area, and Waikiki Beach.

16. Ehukai Pillbox Hike

🛣 Difficulty: Moderate
Est Duration: 1.5 Hours (roundtrip)

Located on the North Shore of Oahu, the Ehukai Pillbox Hike is a great sunset hike with expansive views all around. This is one of the best pillbox hikes in Oahu and is very similar to the Lanikai Pillbox Hike, this hike got its name because of the World War II-era military “pillbox” bunkers you’ll see.

It’s a relatively short but steep hike, which makes it moderately challenging. The entrance to this hike is located behind Sunset Elementary School on the North Shore. 

Once you reach the top of the ridge, you’ll be able to take in the beautiful views of the surrounding North Shore coastline.

17. Kaena Point

🛣 Difficulty: Moderate
Est Duration: 2.5 Hours (roundtrip)

Kaena Point Trail is located in Kaena Point State Park, about a 50-minute drive from Honolulu. This hike is a beautiful and remote one along the coastline where you can enjoy the sunset colours on the ocean waves.

This hike is relatively flat, making it not too strenuous of a hike. The trail can get muddy if it has been raining a lot lately, but other than that, the conditions are good making this a moderate hike option that many hikers can complete.

One important thing to note is that there’s very little shade along this trail, so you’ll want to wear a hat and apply plenty of sunscreen. 

If you’re lucky, you may spot monk seals and sea turtles along the coastline, so keep an eye out as you are walking.

18. Hanauma Bay Ridge

🛣 Difficulty: Easy
Est Duration: 1.5 Hours (roundtrip)

Finally, one of the best Oahu hikes to see a spectacular sunset is the Hanauma Bay Ridge hike. Hanauma Bay is one of the most popular spots for snorkelling and swimming in Oahu, but the best way to see the bay is actually from above.

The Hanauma Bay Ridge hike is an easy but somewhat long uphill hike. However, it’s entirely on a smooth, paved path so this is a hike that most people can enjoy. There isn’t much shade on the path, so you’ll want to be sure to remember sunscreen and a hat.

Once you reach the top of the trail, you will be rewarded with some of the most beautiful views in Oahu. You’ll see Hanauma Bay from a great angle with Koko Head rising up behind it, making this one of the best sunset hikes on the island.

For more adventurous hikers, there’s an extension you can take that will add two to three hours to your total hiking time, but that will take you to the Hanauma Bay Rock Bridge, a stunning natural formation over the ocean.

Oahu Travel Planning Guide

🏥 Should I Buy Travel Insurance for a Trip to Oahu?

Yes, you should definitely buy travel insurance for any vacation to Oahu. Basic travel insurance coverage with Safety Wing averages between $5 – $10 per day and offers peace of mind.

🚘 Do I Need to Rent a Car for a Trip to Oahu?

I would recommend hiring a car for a trip to Oahu. Even if it’s only for a couple of days of your vacation. I personally use Discover Cars to find the best car rental deals.

However, if you are on a tight budget or you don’t plan to explore much of the island then you, then you may want to consider comparing the cost and convenience of Uber and rental cars in Oahu instead.

🏨 Where to Stay in Oahu?

The vast majority of accommodation in Oahu is located in Waikiki. If you enjoy shopping, then you may want to stay further north by the Ala Moana Shopping Mall.

Alternatively, if you’re looking to spend your vacation at the beach, then consider staying as close to Waikiki Beach as possible.

When booking accommodation in Oahu, I use either Booking.com or Hotels.com. However, for large families and groups, VRBO is my number one choice.

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