Sunrise Oahu: 10 TOP Locations For You To Watch

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In this post, we’ll go over the 10 best places to watch the sunrise Oahu, including information on the location, how to get there, and some photography tips.


Let’s get started.

Sunrise Oahu at Makapu'u Point
Makapu’u Point

Makapu’u Point

Makapu’u Point is a renowned location in Oahu, Hawaii, known for its breathtaking sunrises. This is also the spot where the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail resides, offering a scenic hiking experience with a total distance of 2.5 miles (4km) for an out and back return route.


The best time to hike this trail is in the early morning hours to catch the sunrise Oahu. The trail opens shortly before sunrise and closes around sunset. However, it’s important to note that the park officially opens to cars at 7 a.m.


Many people start their trek towards the lighthouse around 6 a.m. to witness the sunrise. This journey offers outstanding views of Oahu’s southeastern coastline, including Koko Head and Koko.


Between November and May, the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail becomes an excellent spot to view migrating humpback whales. On a clear day, you might even get a chance to see these magnificent creatures.


As for photography tips, consider using a high-quality camera to capture the stunning hues of the sunrise Oahu. Also, make sure to have enough memory space as the scenic beauty of the trail will tempt you to click numerous pictures. In addition, arriving early will give you ample time to set up your equipment and choose the perfect spot.


Remember, the hike duration may take about two hours, so plan accordingly. Many individuals also use this trail for a great workout, running up and down the path.


If you prefer not to hike alone, there are sunrise Oahu hiking experiences available that provide transportation to the trail. These services may also offer additional insights and information about the area.

Sunrise Oahu Sandy Beach
Sandy Beach

There’s no better way to start your day than watching the Oahu sunrise, completing one of the North Shora Oahu hikes, and relaxing at the Hukilau Beach Park.

Sandy Beach

Sandy Beach, located on Oahu’s southeastern shore, is a popular spot to catch a spectacular sunrise Oahu. Known for its powerful shore break and soft sand, it offers visitors a unique beach experience.


Getting to Sandy Beach is relatively simple. If you’re traveling from Waikiki, take the H-1 East highway, which will eventually become Kalanianaole Highway. Follow this scenic route along the coastline until you reach Sandy Beach, roughly a 15-mile drive. There’s ample parking available, but remember, the earlier you arrive, the better spot you’ll get!


For the best sunrise Oahu views, aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before the sun is scheduled to rise. This will give you enough time to set up your camera and find the perfect spot to watch the sunrise Oahu.


Remember, Sandy Beach is known for its strong currents and powerful waves, making it more suitable for experienced swimmers and body surfers. However, the beach offers plenty of space for everyone to enjoy the sunrise Oahu safely.

Tantalus Lookout
Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout

Tantalus Lookout, situated on Mount Tantalus in the Puu Ualakaa State Park, is an exceptional spot to observe a sunrise Oahu. Offering panoramic views of the Waikiki area, it’s a favorite among both locals and travelers.


Getting to the Tantalus Lookout involves driving up the winding Tantalus Drive, which takes you through lush rainforest scenery. The drive itself is an adventure, so take your time and enjoy the route. From Honolulu, head towards Makiki Street and take a left on Round Top Drive. This road will lead you straight to the lookout.


Arrive at the lookout at least 30 minutes before sunrise Oahu to secure a good viewing spot and set up your camera equipment. The park opens at 7 am, but pedestrian access is available for early risers.


Please note that while Tantalus Lookout is a safe place to visit, it’s always wise to stay on marked paths and respect the park’s rules.


Keep in mind that the weather can be cooler up at the lookout due to the elevation, so dressing in layers is recommended.

Diamond Head
Diamond Head

Diamond Head

Diamond Head, also known as Le’ahi, is a dormant volcanic cone and a renowned landmark in Oahu. Its summit offers stunning 360-degree views of Honolulu and the Pacific Ocean, making it an excellent place to watch the sunrise Oahu.


To get to Diamond Head, take Monsarrat Avenue from Waikiki, which will lead you directly to Diamond Head Road. The trail for the hike starts within the Diamond Head State Monument. There’s a small fee to enter the park, and ample parking is available.


The hike to the summit is about 1.6 miles roundtrip and includes some steep sections, stairs, and a tunnel. It’s advisable to start your hike early in the morning to reach the top before sunrise Oahu.


Make sure to bring a flashlight if you’re starting while it’s still dark, as the trail isn’t lit.


When it comes to capturing the perfect sunrise Oahu moment, here are some photography tips:

  1. Use a tripod: This will help stabilize your camera during low light conditions in the early morning.
  2. Experiment with composition: The panoramic view offers endless possibilities for unique compositions. Try to include elements like the ocean, cityscape, or other hikers in your shots.
  3. Adjust your settings: As the sun rises, the lighting conditions will change rapidly. Keep adjusting your camera settings to capture the changing colors and light.
  4. Capture the journey: Don’t just focus on the sunrise Oahu. The hike up to the summit is part of the experience, so take some shots along the way.

Remember to pack water and snacks for the hike, and wear comfortable shoes and clothing. Also, respect the park rules and stay on designated trails.

Sunrise Oahu at Waikiki Beach
Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach

Waikiki Beach, one of the most famous beaches in the world, is located on the south shore of Honolulu, Oahu. It’s a popular spot for both locals and visitors to watch the sunrise Oahu due to its east-facing orientation and easy accessibility.


If you’re staying in Waikiki, getting to the beach is as simple as walking out of your hotel, as most accommodations in the area are within a short walking distance from the beach. If you’re coming from farther away, you can reach Waikiki Beach by car, bus, or taxi.


If you’re driving, head towards Kalakaua Avenue, the main road running parallel to the beach. There are several public parking spaces available, including the Waikiki Shell Parking Lot, the Honolulu Zoo Parking Lot, and street parking along Ala Wai Boulevard. However, parking can fill up quickly, so arrive early to secure a spot.


For those taking public transportation, TheBus, Honolulu’s public transit system, has several routes that pass through Waikiki. You can check their website or use a navigation app for the best routes and times.


To catch the sunrise Oahu, aim to arrive at least 30 minutes before the scheduled sunrise Oahu time. This will allow you to choose a prime spot on the beach and settle in before the sun begins to rise.


Remember that the weather can change quickly in Hawaii, so it’s always a good idea to check the forecast before heading out. Don’t forget to bring a towel or beach mat to sit on, and perhaps a light jacket in case it gets chilly in the early morning hours.

Lanikai Beach
Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach

Lanikai Beach is a small but stunning beach located in the town of Kailua on Oahu’s windward coast. Known for its clear turquoise water and fine white sand, it’s considered one of the best beaches in the world and an exceptional spot for watching the sunrise Oahu.


Getting to Lanikai Beach from Honolulu involves a roughly 30-minute drive over the Pali Highway (Route 61). Once you reach Kailua, you’ll take a right onto Kawailo Road, followed by a left onto Aalapapa Drive which eventually becomes Mokulua Drive. Lanikai Beach is located off a loop road that branches off from Mokulua Drive.


Parking can be a challenge as there are no public parking lots or restrooms available at Lanikai Beach. You’ll need to find street parking in the residential area, making sure to respect private property and not block driveways or sidewalks. It’s advisable to arrive early, not only to secure parking but also to catch the sunrise Oahu.


Once parked, access to the beach is via public access paths located between some of the residential properties. Again, remember to be respectful as this is a residential area.


For catching the sunrise Oahu, aim to be settled on the beach at least 30 minutes before the sun is due to rise. The sun rising over the Mokulua Islands off the coast makes for an unforgettable sight.

China Walls
China Walls

China Walls

China Walls, located in the Portlock area of Hawaii Kai on Oahu’s east coast, is a popular spot for cliff jumping, sunbathing, and watching stunning sunrises.


Named for its flat, smooth rock formations that resemble a giant wall, China Walls offers unobstructed views of the ocean making it perfect for sunrise Oahu viewing.


To get to China Walls, you’ll need to drive as public transportation options are limited in this residential area. From Honolulu, take the H-1 Freeway East which will turn into Kalanianaole Highway. Turn left onto Lunalilo Home Road, then right onto Poipu Drive.


Follow Poipu Drive until you reach Hanapepe Loop and Hanapepe Place. There is a small public access path between two houses on Hanapepe Place that leads down to China Walls.


Parking is available on the street, but as this is a residential neighborhood, be sure to respect private property and not block driveways or sidewalks. Arriving early will not only secure a good parking spot but also a prime location to watch the sunrise Oahu.


Please note that while China Walls is a beautiful location, it can be dangerous. The rock ledge can be slippery, and the ocean here can be rough with strong currents. Always check ocean conditions before you go and never turn your back on the ocean.

Ko Olina Lagoon
Ko Olina Lagoon

Ko Olina Lagoon

Ko Olina Lagoon is a series of four man-made lagoons located on the leeward coast of Oahu. These tranquil, sandy-bottomed lagoons are part of the Ko Olina Resort and are open to the public.


They provide an excellent spot to watch the sunrise Oahu with their calm waters and beautiful surroundings.


To reach Ko Olina Lagoon from Honolulu, take the H-1 Freeway West towards Waianae. The freeway will eventually turn into Farrington Highway. Take the exit toward Ko Olina and continue straight onto Aliinui Drive until you reach the resort area.


Each lagoon has its own public parking lot, but spaces are limited and can fill up quickly, so it’s advisable to arrive early if you want to secure a spot. If the lots are full, additional parking may be available for a fee at the Ko Olina Resort.


Once parked, you can access the lagoons via walkways from the parking lots. Each lagoon offers different views, so feel free to explore and find your perfect spot to watch the sunrise Oahu.


Please remember that while the lagoons are open to the public, the surrounding hotels and resorts are private property, so be respectful of these areas. Also, facilities like restrooms and picnic areas are available but may not be open if you arrive very early in the morning.

Waimanalo Beach
Waimanalo Beach

Waimanalo Bay Beach

Waimanalo Bay Beach, located on Oahu’s windward (eastern) coast, is a stunning spot known for its turquoise blue water, soft white sand, and uninterrupted views of the sunrise Oahu. It’s less crowded than some of the island’s other beaches, making it an ideal place to enjoy a peaceful morning.


To get to Waimanalo Bay Beach, you’ll drive along the Kalanianaole Highway if you’re coming from Honolulu. The journey typically takes around 30-45 minutes. Once you reach Waimanalo, you’ll turn onto Hihimanu Street, which leads directly to Waimanalo Bay Beach Park.


There’s a parking lot available at the beach park. Since it’s a popular spot for locals, especially on weekends, it’s a good idea to arrive early to secure a parking spot and a prime location on the beach for sunrise Oahu viewing.


Once you’ve parked, you’re just a short walk away from the beach. There are restroom facilities and picnic tables available, making it convenient if you plan to stay and enjoy the beach after the sunrise Oahu.


Do remember that while Waimanalo Bay Beach is a beautiful location, it’s also important to respect the area by keeping it clean and following any posted rules or regulations.

Kualoa Beach
Kualoa Regional Park

Kualoa Regional Park

Kualoa Regional Park, situated on the northeastern coast of Oahu, offers captivating views of Mokoli’i Island (commonly referred to as Chinaman’s Hat due to its shape) and the Kualoa Mountains. It’s an excellent location to watch the sunrise Oahu, with the sun emerging from behind the ocean and lighting up the picturesque scenery.


To get to Kualoa Regional Park from Honolulu, take the H-1 Freeway west until it merges with HI-63 N. Continue onto HI-83 W (Kahekili Highway), which will take you along the eastern coastline of the island. The park will be on your right, just past Kualoa Ranch.


There’s a parking lot available at the park, but it’s advisable to arrive early to secure a spot and find a good location to view the sunrise Oahu. The park opens at 7 am, so check the exact time of sunrise Oahu to ensure you don’t miss it.


Once you’ve parked, you can walk towards the beach area for the best views. There are picnic tables and restrooms available in the park, making it convenient for visitors planning to stay after watching the sunrise Oahu.


Please remember to respect the park by keeping it clean and following any posted rules or regulations.



Watching the sunrise Oahu is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.


With these 10 best locations, you can choose the perfect spot that suits your photography style and interests.


Always remember to take care of these special places, by leaving them as pristine as you found them, and try to get there early to snag a good spot, as most of these spots can get crowded during peak periods.


Capture the sunrise Oahu moments that will last a lifetime.

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Laura & Alexander

Laura & Alexander

We're two full-time Belgian travellers sharing our experience through our blog. Our aim is to inspire your next travel adventure with our best tips and tricks from every country we visit.

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