On our first trip to Oahu, we were having dinner at the Aloha Tower. I noticed that a stream of people was forming, coming from up the hill which was downtown Honolulu. They were dressed in business clothes, suits and heels, and carrying briefcases. They came down the dock and found spots to sit by the water. Sunset began and was a sight to see, even over the busy port of Honolulu. When it was over, everyone quietly got up and left, I presume to go home. I realized that honoring the sun is part of daily life in Hawaii, and I wanted that feeling to be a part of my life, too.
When planning a trip, my first step is to look up the times for sunset for the time we will be on the islands. I like using this link to find the times for the dates we’ll be there, but you can search online for “sunset time Hawaii.” The Hawaii Tides website has the sunrise, sunset and tides listed by the month for different spots around the islands.
Next, I make a plan to guess which part of the island we might be visiting each day of our trip. I choose a restaurant in the right location, then I call and make a reservation for 30 minutes before sunset. I call because I can ask to reserve a table with an ocean view. Now, I know this sounds very premeditated, but it has served us well on our trips. I keep the phone numbers in my calendar so that if we are having a wonderful time somewhere and realize we aren’t going to make it to the restaurant, I can call and cancel. Some of our most memorable meals and memorable moments are a result of this advance planning.
Is there a list of best places to watch sunset in Hawaii? Many places on Waikiki have a view of the sun’s show and you’ll see folks gather on the walls (piers) for sunset. We like Lulu’s, Tiki’s, Top of Waikiki, Duke’s, and the Halekulani’s House Without a Key. On the North Shore, try Haleiwa Joe’s or The Point pool bar at Turtle Bay resort. On the Big Island, a fun spot is Don the Beachcomber and Mai Tai Bar at the Royal Kona in Kailua Kona.
Also, the Mauna Kea stargazing tours get you up above the clouds for glorious sunset views. In Kaua’i, you can’t beat the experience of a beautiful dinner at the Beach House in Po’ipū.
Sunrise in Hawaii is so gorgeous. Since we come from the east coast, we are always awake well ahead and can see the paddle boards, surfers, yoga, and hula quietly come out the beach to greet the day. If you get up early enough, you can hike up Diamond Head summit trail (open at 6 am, $5 per car parking, 0.8 mile strenuous hike) or go to Makapu’u point lighthouse trail (open at 7 am, 2.0 miles.) But there are many Waikiki hotel balconies that are super for greeting the dawn. On Maui, it’s popular to go up on Haleakala for sunrise.
- Top 5 favorite Hawaii places to watch a sunset from Hawaii magazine
- Haleakala sunrise and sunset from Hawaii Tourism Authority
- A Hawaii sunset: The Big Island’s best show from Best Big Island Hawaii
- Best sunset spots on Oahu from Things to do on Oahu
- What is the green flash? from the Bishop Museum
- Waikiki beaches from Best of Oahu
- Makapu’u Point lighthouse trail from Division of State Parks
- Diamond Head summit trail from Division of State Parks
- Kanoe Miller, romantic Waikiki hula
Let’s talk story
I remember Hawaiian sunsets so vividly. One night we ate at Nico’s Pier 38, a low key fish house at the piers in the harbor. We realized it was about to be sunset so we walked out towards the NOAA headquarters on the pier and saw the most beautiful sunset show right there amongst the container ships and equipment. Another memorable night we were with my friend K in Kaua’i. We managed to share aloha with the staff of the Beach House and got seated in the bar with the most fantastic view of the sun. It was fantastic company, an amazing meal, and the sun over the surf at Po’ipū. And finally, we went to the Halekulani well before sunset and spoke to the maître d’ at House Without a Key. “We are here to see Mrs. Miller,” I said. He gave us a lovely table outside but under the protection of the lanai with a direct view of the bandstand. Kanoelehua Kaumeheiwa Miller (Miss Hawaii 1973) came in to get ready for her hula show with the Hiram Olsen Trio. We were able to speak with her and take pictures. What a wonderful, gracious lady! A sight I will never forget: She was dancing to “Waikiki”, the sun was setting, and her lyrical hula hands were highlighted across the sun as it dipped into the ocean.(Kanoe performs Friday and Saturday nights.)
I’d love to hear your sunset Hawaii and sunrise Hawaii stories in the Comments!