Oahu’s spectacular sunsets have Waikiki beach packed every night a the sun goes gown. But here’s an insider tip:
If you want to get away from the crowds and have a piece of paradise all to yourself, get up early and watch the sunrise. It really is the best way to start your day in Hawaii.
Here are the best places to watch the sunrise on Oahu:
Kailua or Lanikai Beach
Both Kailua and Lanikai beaches are the perfect places to watch the sunrise for a couple of reasons. The sun rises over the ocean, and the clouds of the windward side of the island make for some wonderful changes in color.
Many magazines have ranked Kailua and Lanikai beaches as among the most beautiful in the world. So, as the day goes on, they get very crowded. Often, you can’t even find a parking spot. But in the morning, there are not as many tourists.
But in the morning, you will just find a few locals walking their dogs or running on the beach. Have one of the world’s greatest beaches all to yourself for a few minutes before the day begins. Plus, there is a little cafe right next to Kailua Beach to get your coffee and breakfast, Kalapawai Market.
Makapuu Beach Park
Makapuu Beach Park is a beautiful place to watch the sunrise because of the beautiful rocky coastline, lighthouse, rabbit island ou in the water, and the incredible views that stretch as far as they eye can see. In the winter months, this is also a prime place to look for whales. As the sun comes up, so do the whales, and you can often find them playing in the water.
Now, if you are feeling adventurous early in the morning, here are two more places to watch the sunrise on Oahu. But I’m warning you, you have to work for these views!
If you’re up for the challenge, hike Koko Head in the dark and watch the sunrise from the top. There are views in every direction, including an incredible view of Hanauma Bay.
The downside of hiking Koko Head is that it’s extremely difficult, at 1.8 miles and over 1,000 steps. You will need a flashlight and lots of water. Because the sunrise views from the top are so spectacular, this trails gets very crowded even before the sun comes up.
Also located in Lanikai, the Pillbox Trail gives you a similar view to Kailua or Lanikai beach, but from a higher vantage point. Although the sunrise is the main event, don’t forget to look all around at the 360-degree views of the island that this trail offers.
The downside to this trail is that you have to hike up in the dark, so you will need a flashlight. Although not as demanding as Koko Head, it will still challenge you. On some days, it can be more crowded than the beach.
Personally, I love getting up early to watch the sunrise. In Hawaii, it is truly a special experience. You feel like it’s just you and the ocean. And, after you’ve jump started your morning, you have the whole day ahead of you to get breakfast and explore.
Finally, I want to offer you my best pro tip to watching the sunrise: Get to wherever you are going 30-40 minutes before the sun comes up. That way, you will be able to watch the blue hour, when the sky starts to change colors as the sun starts to come up below the horizon. It’s often the most beautiful part of the sunrise — pinks and oranges and yellows all combine and change faster than you can imagine. And bring a sweater, because it’s often the coldest part of the day, too.
So, pick a spot, get up early, get yourself a cup of coffee, and head out to watch the sun come up. It just might be the best thing you do on your Hawaiian vacation.