Hawaii is many travellers idea of paradise. They come for the white sand beaches, temperate weather, fantastic shopping and of course the sublime sunsets. I’ve seen some of the best sunsets in Oahu over my many years of travelling to this beautiful part of the world and I’m sharing all my secrets on the best places to watch amazing Oahu sunsets. Read on for all the details …
Where Can I Watch The Best Sunsets In Oahu?
I’ve been to Hawaii more than a dozen times. The first time was with my Mum in 1984 as a quick stop over on the way to LA and Disneyland, I returned again in 1990 with my girlfriend when we were 19 (and forgot the drinking age in the US was 21, D’Oh!) and I have been many times since with The Hubs so I have seen my fair share of sunsets in Oahu. Hawaii does not observe daylight savings time so regardless of the time of year you visit Hawaii, Oahu sunsets are always between 6 – 7pm. You can check the exact time here for the day you are visiting. Be aware that the sun will set at a different angle depending on the season. I compiled this post in the winter (February), so if you are visiting at a different time you will need to take this into account when planning the best vantage point. The beauty of having sunset fairly early in evening is that you can enjoy sunset before dinner or combine it with one of the many happy hours in Waikiki. The sun always sets in the west so it’s no surprise that the west coast of Oahu offers some of the best unobstructed views of the sun setting over the water, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t glimpse some of the best Oahu sunsets from the south and the north. It goes without saying that the east side of the island is not going to be ideal for watching the best sunsets in Oahu, but for early risers it does offer some amazing sunrises. Or so I’m told. I’m never up that early on vacation lol.
#1 Waikiki Beach
Every single visitor should step on the sands of Waikiki Beach while they are in town. You simply cannot not. While it pumps with sunbathers, swimmers and surfers during the day, Waikiki Beach also turns on some of the best sunsets in Oahu. I recommend catching a sunset on Waikiki Beach on a Tuesday, Thursday or Saturday so you can also see the free hula show. The show starts just after sunset on the grassy mound near the Duke Kahanamoku statue. I have enjoyed many a sublime sunset from Waikiki Beach, but this visit we had a cloudy sky to contend with. I did like the contrast and play of light though. After the sun dips below the horizon, why not grab a bargain dinner at one of the many cheap eats in Waikiki.
RumFire is located beachfront in the Sheraton Waikiki and is one of our favourite bars. We have stayed at the Sheraton Waikiki a few times before, but you don’t have to be a guest to visit RumFire. Get to RumFire around 4pm to get a few drinks in before happy hour ends and to snag one of the best outside tables.
#3 Wai’Olu Ocean Cuisine
#4 Hilton Hawaiian Village
We stayed at the Hilton Hawaiian Village a few years ago and it is one of the most popular resorts in Oahu. The Hilton enjoys an absolute beachfront location and a calm lagoon. Friday night is the night to head to the Hilton for sunset, because after the sun goes down the sky lights up with a spectacular fireworks show. The Hilton has a number of vantage points for both sunset and the fireworks, some lucky guests can even enjoy them straight from their lanai. The Hubs and I chose to just cop a squat on the sand. While I did manage to get a couple of in focus photos of the fireworks so many of them were blurry. It would have been much easier if I had packed a travel tripod. I’ll know for next time! The weather had been iffy all day and sun down was no different. The cloud cover prevented us seeing the sun slide behind the horizon, but we were treated to some pretty golden hues. You can’t win them all!
#5 Top of Waikiki
They say catching a sunset from Oahu’s only revolving restaurant is a must while you are in Waikiki so we had to give the Top Of Waikiki a try. We arrived right on 6pm and had the weather been better we might have been treated to more spectacular views, but even in the best of conditions you would need to time it just right to see the sun slide behind the horizon between the buildings dotting Waikiki. There are definitely better places to catch a sunset in Waikiki.
#6 Ala Moana Beach Park
Hard core shoppers don’t have to tear themselves away from the stores very long to catch a decent sunset because the Ala Moana Beach Park is just a few minutes walk from the Ala Moana Center. The park itself is quite large and offers plenty of parking, but we walked (about 30 mins) from Waikiki. The park has a party vibe with teenagers playing footy on the sand, families grilling dinner over open flames, toddlers splashing in the calm water and music blaring from cabanas on the grass. Everyone there was hoping for a fabulous sunset, but mother nature is a fickle woman and she chose to instead bless us with a thick layer of cloud that obscured the moment the sun departed for the day. I actually took my best shot of the night from the bridge near the yacht club as we were walking to the beach. Beggars can’t be chooser right?
#7 Ko Olina Lagoon
Ko Olina Lagoon is the closest point to Waikiki on the West Coast. Google Maps predicted it would be a 45 minute drive, but an accident in front meant it took us closer to 90. Luckily we allowed plenty of time and we arrived around 5.45pm. We stopped at Lagoon Two and it was almost deserted on a Tuesday night. There is a small free car park directly in front of the lagoon, but it closes at sunset so don’t linger after the sun dips below the horizon. We had a little rain earlier in the day and the clouds lingered so we weren’t sure what to expect. Luck was on our side and mother nature delivered a picture perfect sunset for us. There are a heap of beaches on the west side of the island, but I can’t imagine any would be more perfect than Ko Olina. Pack your swimmers for a sunset swim in the calm lagoon if you are so inclined.
#8 Kaiaka Bay Beach Park
Kaiaka Bay Beach Park is situated on Oahu’s North Shore and the easiest way to reach it is to drive yourself. We always hire a car through Airport Rentals as we find they have the best prices in town. This visit we hired a Chevrolet Spark for 2 days for just AUD$57 a day (but got a free upgrade to a Kia Soul). Kaiaka Bay Beach Park was our first stop on our quest for find the best North Shore vantage point for sunset. It was rainy and overcast, but as this was our last day with the hire car we had to make the most of it. It took just over an hour to drive from Waikiki to Kaiaka Bay Beach Park. It was almost deserted when we arrived, but judging by the amount of parking spaces available I assume it gets busy at times. The park itself has a beautiful grassed area, toilets and a number of campsites. The beach area to the right is the best place to swim as the shoreline to the left is volcanic rock that would not be kind to bare feet. The sun sets to the left just in front of the land outcrop. Not that we could see it. The cloud cover was thick and the drizzle persistent. In better weather Kaiaka Bay Beach Park would be a great place to watch the sun go down.
#9 Haleiwa Alii Beach Park
Haleiwa Alii was the second stop on our quest to catch a decent sunset on the North Shore of Oahu and is just 5 minutes further along from Kaiaka Bay Beach Park. Where Kaiaka was deserted and tranquil, Haleiwa Alii was crowded even though the weather was getting worse. The car park was full of families and surfers and the swell was rolling in. The view of the sunset would have been quite similar to Kaiaka. If we could see it. I can only assume there was a sun somewhere behind all that cloud.
#10 Waimea Bay Beach Park
Waimea Bay Beach Park was the third stop on our North Shore journey. The turn off to the car park when approaching from the left is at the bottom of a hill and a bit obscured. The Hubs missed it on the first pass and we had to turn around and come back to it. The grassed area in front of the beach was littered with vocal roosters claiming their territory. I gave them a wide berth. The Hubs sheltered from the rain under the eaves of the toilet block while I checked out the beach. I’ve been to Waimea a few times, but we usually go to the valley to see the waterfall rather than the beach. I suggest arriving in the afternoon to see the waterfall and finisihing the day on the beach at sunset. Be aware that the view from the Waimea Bay Beach Park is obstructed and you will not actually be able to see the sun slide behind the sea, but from other pictures I have seen the sky is still a sight to behold when it is lit up with golden hues. Sadly all we were blessed with was dark clouds and gloom. It’s lucky I have a good imagination. I snapped this shot about 30 minutes before sunset and we decided to move on looking for better options.
#11 Sunset Beach
Sunset Beach was our last stop on the North Shore. Sunset Beach is famed for it’s surf in winter and surfers flock for the big waves between November and February. The surf was fairly calm when we arrived and the weather had clearly kept the hordes at bay. The sun’s rays shone through the cloud very briefly during our visit treating us to the only glimpse of golden hues we saw all afternoon. I’ve seen the photos of what Sunset Beach can turn on and this was a poor version indeed. The photo below was about 15 minutes before official sunset time and the clouds closed back in as quick as they parted putting paid to any chance of seeing a decent sunset we had. We decided not to hang around and point the car back to Waikiki in the little bit of daylight we had left. And then the heavens truly opened. The persistent drizzle we had experienced all afternoon turned torrential and I have to say I was nervous driving on the unfamiliar roads. with almost zero visability. We made it back safely, but others didn’t fare so well as we saw fire trucks and EMT speeding past us in the direction we had come, no doubt to attend an accident. I hope you have better luck when you visit. If you don’t have your own car this North Shore tour gets you to all the highlights in style.
Other Great Places To Watch Oahu Sunsets …
#12 House Without A Key
We visited House Without A Key in the Halekulani Hotel on our most recent visit to Oahu in February 2020. It was about a 10 minute walk from the Shoreline Hotel where we stayed and it commands enviable beach and Diamond Head views. Sunset is to your right as you look out over the ocean and the best views can be gained by getting up from your table and walking to the edge of the lawn.
#13 At A Luau
I haven’t been to a Luau in years. They are a hit with many visitors, but I feel it’s the kind of thing you do once and that’s enough. There are a number of Luau’s that offer spectacular sunset views including Germaine’s, Paradise Cove and Nutridge.
#14 Sunset Cruise
There are heaps of sunset cruises heading out of Waikiki. The fancy ones feature modern boats and extravagant buffet dinners which are perfect for that special night out. If your budget doesn’t stretch that far try one of the smaller catamarans that head out nightly.
#15 Kaka’ako Waterfront Park
Shopping at Ala Moana is one of my favourite things to do in Oahu. On my last few trips the AUD was in the toilet so it curbed my purchases somewhat, but I’m always still up for a bit of window shopping. If you happen to be at Ala Moana near sunset take a break from your shopping and walk across to Kaka’ako Waterfront Park for one of the best sunsets in Oahu. The shops will still be open when you are done.
Have you been to Hawaii? Have I missed any of you favourite places to watch sunsets in Oahu? I’d love to hear about them in the comments below.
Until Next Time …
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Disclosure Statement: This post is not sponsored. The information in this article are based on my own personal experiences and have not been influenced in any way by the brand(s) featured. This post may contain affiliate links which if clicked may earn me a small commission on purchases at no extra cost to you.