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6 Epic Places to Watch the Sunrise & Sunset on Oahu

By: Shauna Simons + Save to a List

You’ll be hard pressed to find a better place to watch the sunset or sunrise than in Hawaii. There aren’t enough words to describe how beautiful it is to see the sun peeking up over a tropical horizon or sinking into the ocean - and those vibrant sky colors are another thing entirely!

When visiting the island of Oahu, experiencing this awesome display of nature is a must. But don’t settle for watching this show from your hotel window or even down on crowded Waikiki Beach. To catch the best views, you’ll need to venture out of tourist central and do some exploring.

Take a look below for six epic places on Oahu to enjoy the sunset or sunrise.

1.     Papailoa Beach (sunset)

This secluded beach on the north shore is usually not crowded and provides a beautiful backdrop to watch the sun go down. The bright green moss that covers the rocks along the shore combined with a colorful sky is the ultimate eye candy. Arrive with time to spare and do some turtle watching— there are always quite a few in this area. Just make sure you Malama Na Honu and do not touch or get too close.

 2.     Sherwood Forest (sunrise)

Named for the Ironwood trees that surrounds this area, this country beach features turquoise blue water, soft white sand, and lots of room to find a spot to yourself. Sherwood provides a stretching view of the horizon and is the perfect location to watch the sun make its grand entrance.

3.     Spitting Caves (sunset)

Back in a Hawaii Kai neighborhood, a narrow beach access leads you out on top of a series of sea cliffs for a stunning view. Expect to share the space with others since it has become a popular spot in the last few years, but know that the view will be worth it. This is also a fun area to look for whales (in the winter) and watch the daredevils that attempt a dangerous 55-foot cliff jump (year-round).

4.     Ala Moana Beach Park (sunrise & sunset)

The best part about watching the sunrise or sunset from Ala Moana Beach Park is the sense of community. This is a popular spot for joggers, paddle boarders, surfers, and workout classes. Grab a fresh juice or acai bowl from one of the many nearby shops and enjoy that golden island light from a cozy spot on the beach.

5.     Log Cabins (sunset)

Log Cabins is a great north shore alternative for those who want to get away from the crowds at Sunset Beach. We love bringing a football or beach game when we come here as there’s always plenty of room to spread out. And if you’re here during the winter, get ready to act as the audience for breaching whales, big crashing waves, and skilled surfers.

6.     Lanikai Pillboxes (sunrise)

This is an incredibly popular spot for sunrise, and for good reason. Wake up early and get in some cardio as you race to the top of the hill to beat the sun. You’ll watch the sun come up from on top of the pillboxes (another name for the bunkers used in World War 2) which look out over the Mokulua Islands. If you’re not into hiking, you can always head to Lanikai Beach instead and watch the sunrise while floating in the sea. Either way, you’re day is off to a great start. 

By the way, in Hawaii the sun rises between 5:49am and 7:12am and sets between 5:45pm and 7:30pm, depending on the time of the year. Happy sun chasing!

We want to acknowledge and thank the past, present, and future generations of all Native Nations and Indigenous Peoples whose ancestral lands we travel, explore, and play on. Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures and follow local regulations. Please explore responsibly!

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