10 Best Places To Watch The Sunrise In Oahu
With stunning coastlines and pristine beaches, Oahu offers some of the most breathtaking locations for watching the sunrise.
Waking up early and witnessing the magic of an Oahu sunset is an incredible experience. To help you find the best spots on the island to watch the sunrise, I put together this complete list.
It includes locations for watching the sunrise on the beach, to sunrise hikes with views overlooking the island.
Get ready for a peaceful and awe-inspiring moment of watching the sun peek over the horizon and the sky fill with golden hues. Here are the top 10 prettiest places to watch the sunrise on Oahu.
While you will have to set the alarm and wake up early, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience that you will not want to miss!
Map of Oahu Sunrise Spots
Here is an interactive Google map with the locations of the best sunrise spots in Oahu. You can click each location to get more info.
Where to Watch the Sunrise on Oahu
1. Sandy Beach
Sandy Beach is one of the best places to enjoy a magical sunrise on Oahu. It is just a short drive from Waikiki, but far enough from the city to be free of lights.
This is one of the most photographed sunrise beaches on the island, and when you see the sky burst into a symphony of colors and lights you will understand why.
The waves at this beach are very strong, so it’s not safe to get in the water. Watching the sunrise from Sandy Beach will be an unforgettable Oahu experience.
2. Lanikai Pillbox Hike
Hiking the Lanikai Pillbox Trail to watch the sunrise should be at the top of your Oahu bucket list. This trail, located on the east coast of the island offers stunning views of the ocean and nearby islands.
Plan on starting your hike at least 30-40 minutes before sunrise. It takes around 1-1.5 hours to complete this short but steep hike.
Known for being one of the easier hikes on Oahu, once you reach the top of the ridge, old military pillboxes are facing toward the ocean that offers unobstructed views of the sunrise.
You won’t want to miss out on the chance to watch the sunrise from Lanikai pillbox while in Oahu!
3. Koko Crater Hike
One of the most challenging and unique places for a sunrise view is from the top of Koko Crater.
The 1.4-mile round trip trail to the top is a strenuous hike where you will climb 1,048 steps that remain on the hillside from an old railway. While it’s not easy to get to the top, the views will be worth it!
Don’t forget to bring a headlamp or flashlight and a backpack to carry water. Plan on starting your hike at least 45 minutes before sunrise so that you have time to get to the top.
The panoramic views over the island and the Pacific Ocean is a sunrise experience that you will never forget.
4. Waikiki Beach
If hiking or driving to catch the sunrise isn’t for you, don’t worry, you can watch some stunning sunrises right from Waikiki Beach.
This iconic stretch of white sand, crystal clear waters, and view of Diamond Head in the background, make it one of the best spots on the island to enjoy the stunning colors of the sunrise.
Waikiki Beach is the perfect place to take an early morning walk in the sand or sit back and enjoy a picture-perfect start to an incredible day on Oahu.
5. Makapu’u Beach Park
If you’re looking for a piece of paradise to watch an early morning sunrise on Oahu, Makapuu Beach Park might be the place for you!
Known for its large lava rocks and beautiful views of the Koolau Mountains, this spot provides a great backdrop for watching the sunrise.
Imagine sitting back, listening to the sound of the waves crashing against the rocks, as you watch the golden sun slowly light up the sky and rise over the horizon.
Grab your camera, and get ready to enjoy an incredible golden sunrise over this secluded beach.
6. Ala Moana Beach Park
Another convenient but pretty place to watch the sunrise is Ala Moana Beach Park. Located just a short distance from Waikiki Beach.
This easy-to-access sandy beach offers some incredible views of the sky. While it is best known as one of the best sunset spots on Oahu, it is also great for watching the sunrise.
Relax under the palms in the grassy area, or sit back on the sandy beach and soak up the magic of the sun rising while the sky turns into a gorgeous display of oranges, pinks, and purples.
The glow cast onto the calm ocean waters with the stunning view of Diamond Head in the backdrop will make watching a sunrise on this beach one that you will never forget!
7. Kakaako Waterfront Park
While there is no sand at this beach, Kakaako Waterfront Park is a great place to watch the sunrise.
Located in Honolulu, you can enjoy the sun coming up from the grassy area under the palms or the rocks near the oceanfront.
As the sun rises, the sky lights up into an array of colors casting a glow off the calm ocean waters.
This is an often-overlooked park that will have you enjoying the views of an incredible Oahu sunrise.
8. Kailua Beach
Kailua Beach is a must-visit spot on Oahu to start your morning. The soft white sand and stunning views of clear blue water are just part of the reason that it is considered to be one of the best beaches in Oahu.
While this beach is picture-perfect all day long, it’s even more magical during sunrise. Located in the town of Kailua on the windward side of the island, you’ll also get to see one of the famous Mokulua islands just offshore.
Whether you are taking a stroll along the beach or sitting on a park bench and drinking your morning coffee, this beach is the ideal spot to fully appreciate the beauty of an island sunrise.
9. Diamond Head
Once you experience the sunrise from the top of Diamond Head you will understand why this adventure should be at the top of your list.
The short 1.6-mile round-trip hike will take about 20 – 30 minutes. Try to arrive early as the park gate opens at 6 am. Reservations are required in advance.
Depending on the time of year, you should be able to reach the top before sunrise. Since this is such a popular sunrise hike, you can expect there to be many other people on the trail.
The view from the top is breathtaking, with panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, the Honolulu Skyline, and Waikiki Beach.
10. Kaneohe Bay
Located on the eastern side of the island, the hidden gem of Kaneohe Bay offers unique and stunning views of the sunrise.
The bay is home to five mini islands and the famous sand bar located just offshore. It offers an incredible backdrop for sunrise photos.
The calm waters, mountain views, and colorful sky transform this spot into a magical place to start your day.
While this isn’t one of the most popular sunrise spots on Oahu, it’s one that you won’t want to miss.
Things to Consider
Here are some things to keep in mind when planning to watch the sunrise.
Western Facing Sunrises: Sunrises on the west coast of Oahu will offer a less dramatic and more peaceful view as the sun rises above the mountains and lights up the sky.
Eastern Facing Sunrises: Since the sun rises in the east, sunrise spots that face the east have some of the best views of the sun rising over the pacific ocean. They are typically more colorful and dramatic.
Sunrise Times: Sunrise times vary through the year, so make sure that you check the sunrise for the specific location and try to arrive about 45 minutes before.
Weather: Try to plan your sunrise experience on days when the weather is forecasted to be clear.
Crowds: Some sunrise spots on Oahu are well known and can get busy during sunrise. Expect locations to be busiest during weekends and holidays. If you want a more peaceful sunrise experience, try visiting one of the less popular spots.
Safety: Many of the best sunrise locations on Oahu will require a short hike in the dark. Make sure that you bring a headlamp, and consider hiking these trails in the daytime first so that you know what to expect when you are hiking in the dark.
Frequently Asked Questions
What side of the island does the sunrise in Oahu?
The sun rises from the eastern (windward) side of the Oahu. Eastern-facing locations are some of the best places to watch the sunrise on the island because it is where the first light will appear and you will have a full view of the sun coming up from the ocean horizon line.
Where is the best place to watch the sunrise in Oahu?
The best locations to watch the sunrise in Oahu are eastern-facing locations where you can see the sunrise. Some popular spots include Makapu’u Point, Sandy Beach, and Kailua Beach.
What are the best sunrise hikes on Oahu?
The best sunrise hikes in Oahu are Diamond Head Lookout, Lanikai Pillbox Hike, and Koko Head Crater Trail.
Where to watch the sunrise on the North Shore?
The best places to watch the sunrise on the North Shore of Oahu include; Sunset Beach Park, Waimea Bay, and Banzai Pipeline.
Oahu has no shortage of incredible places to watch the sunrise!
From hiking to the top of Lanikai Pillbox or Diamond Head to relaxing on Kailua Beach, planning to watch the sunrise while on Oahu should be on your list of things to do.
So, set your alarm and don’t forget your camera because you are going to want to take a ton of photos of the Oahu sunrise. It’s an incredible experience that you will never forget!
If you are looking for more information about Oahu, check out these other posts:
- 10 Best Oahu Beaches for Snorkeling
- Best Island to Visit in Hawaii for First Time Visitors (2023)
- 10 Best Places to See Sea Turtles in Oahu
If you have watched the sunrise on Oahu and have recommendations, feel free to leave a comment below.
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