No matter how you fill your days, from snorkeling the tropical reefs to scaling the chilly mountains, every day in Hawaii ends the same, with a gorgeous sunset painted across the Hawaiian sky. Sunsets in Hawaii are some of the best you’ll ever lay eyes on. With incredible vantage points, you can find every angle and backdrop imaginable to watch it all go down. And while every sunset brings you closer to the end of your trip, you won’t be able to stop yourself from loving every minute of each one. So, to make them all count, here are the best spots for your one-of-a-kind Hawaii sunset.
Table of Contents
- Oahu Sunsets
- Big Island Sunsets
- Kauai Sunsets
- Maui Sunsets
- What Time Is Golden Hour in Hawaii?
- Why Does the Sun Set So Fast in Hawaii?
- Experience More Hawaii Sunsets with Next Vacay
The warm aloha of the Gathering Place place covers everyone from diehard surfers to family vacationers, so it’s no surprise its greetings would extend to avid sunset watchers. The vivid hues of Oahu’s sunset skies are on full display across the island, from the splendor of the north shore to the magnificence of the south.
Ala Moana Beach Park
Magical sunsets start with watching the sun set from Magic Island. Ala Moana Park sits just minutes from Waikiki and the beating heart of downtown Honolulu. It’s a prime spot to walk and soak in the view if you’re staying nearby. Head to the end of the island early enough, and you should be able to snag a seat on one of the west-facing benches, allowing you to drink in the hazy brilliance of the golden hour before the sun dips below the horizon.
Kaʻena Point State Park
Escaping from the crowds during a Hawaii sunset is no easy feat. Everyone wants the best view of the light show as the sun makes its dramatic exit. So, sometimes, you’ve got to get creative and adventurous, and the sunset hikes at Kaʻena State Park are just that. Enclosed in a wildlife sanctuary along the northwest tip of the island, Kaʻena’s walking trails offer pristine views of the coast and glimpses of monk seals, rare seabirds, and even whales during whale season. After all of that, the views of the sunset will make you feel truly spoiled.
Unfortunately, the Diamond Head State Monument closes before the sun sets, so you can’t catch the sweeping summit views of Honolulu from there. Fortunately, Tantalus Lookout lies just northwest of Diamond Head, with gorgeous vistas out over Honolulu and the Diamond Head crater. The bird’s eye view is the perfect way to watch the sunset over Hawaii’s brightest and busiest city.
The name says it all. While Oahu’s north shore is famous for its fantastic surf, another reason for its beloved status has nothing to do with the waves and everything to do with sunsets. And while you’ll find seven miles worth of great places to post up, sunset at Sunset Beach offers an unparalleled sky view. Travel here in the summer for easy swimming and serene views, or head here in winter for a sensational show of powerful waves and vivid colors.
Big Island Sunsets
Pairing enchanting sunsets with the Big Island’s jaw-dropping landscapes seems only natural. And indeed, it’s hard to go wrong with sunset viewing when you have so many unique places to do it. Big Island sunsets steal the show from high on the mountain tops to along the sandy coasts.
The west side of the Big Island gets a lot of attention for its white sand beaches, coffee plantations, and, of course, magical sunsets. And whether you want to relax with a drink in hand or layout to watch the sun dip below the horizon, the Kailua-Kona waterfront is calling your name.
Dotted with restaurants, parks, and beaches, you can arrive at happy hour and stay until close, watching the sky set ablaze and smolder into nighttime. The only rule for enjoying the sunset here is to arrive early. Then, just sit back, and enjoy the show.
Most people wouldn’t consider a hotel the best place to catch the sunset. But, most hotels aren’t perched on the edge of the Halemaʻumaʻu Crater. The Volcano House in Hawaii Volcanoes National Park stands out as a one-of-a-kind way to experience the sunset in Hawaii. Paired with an eruption in the crater, visitors can watch the sun sink below the horizon, only to be replaced by the glowing lava lake of the summit crater.
Anaehoʻomalu Bay, or as it’s colloquially called A-Bay, sticks out for its near-perfect conditions. A-Bay has it all, from sands spotted with turtles to underwater adventures and towering coconut palms to assist in a lazy day relaxing. On top of all that, it’s almost criminal that the sunset here is just as immaculate. Thanks to the fishponds and tidepools at A-Bay, the vibrant colors of the evening sky are often reflected in the water, creating mirror images of the dazzling displays.
Mauna Kea Summit
Watching the sunset from the tallest mountain in the world is a special kind of magic. While the star-filled sky from Mauna Kea deserves its accolades, the sunset views at 10,000 feet above the rest of Hawaii certainly don’t disappoint. High atop Mauna Kea’s impressive peak, you can treat yourself to a view above the clouds, replacing blue ocean waves with fluffy white clouds and a myriad-colored sky that’ll take your breath away.
Kauai proves there are no bad angles to take in Hawaii’s stunning sunsets. From high up on the north shore to traveling out west and ending at Kauai’s southern tip, the island doesn’t disappoint in its sunset viewing.
Ke’e lies at the end of the road on Kauai’s north shore. As the furthest point you can drive and the starting point for the sweeping Napali Coast, it’s no wonder the scenery makes for some epic sunrise/sunset vistas. Visitors are treated to unencumbered views and spectacular light shows over the Pacific. So you won’t be disappointed if you arrive early in the twilight hours to catch the sunrise or spend the afternoon exploring the Napali coast before capping the day off with a Ke’e sunset.
Polihale State Park
Another end-of-the-road beach, Polihale, sits on the west side of Kaiau. As such, it’s no surprise that the sunsets seen here are magnificent. Framed by the Waimea Canyon and Kauai’s untamed beauty, Polihale is an isolated gem with plenty of room to stretch out. As a bonus, the singular beauty and remoteness of the park make it an ideal location for drinking in the sunset in peace.
Located just minutes away from Princeville, Hanalei Bay is a more accessible Kauai destination for sunset watching and one of the best spots in all of Hawaii. With the picture-perfect dock on the east end facing the mountains and sunsets of the west, the opportunities for photos are endless. But no matter where you decide to sit, you’re in for an enchanting view of a classic Hawaii sunset.
The sun always shines on Kauai’s south end, nowhere more brilliantly than on the sands of Poʻipū beach. Calm waves and shallow shores paint a picture of serenity that’s hard not to buy into when you can find monk seals sunning themselves on the beach’s sandbar. Between the people and the marine life, it’s no wonder Poʻipū beach is a top-ranked destination, but add in the lure of a south shore sunset, and it becomes one of the best locations in all of Hawaii.
Maui claims to have the best sunsets, and it might be hard to argue. Under the evening sky, the golden sands of Maui are set ablaze while the heavens become a painter’s masterpiece. So if the perfect view of sundown exists, you might find it on Maui.
On the summit of Haleakala, sunrise is the glamorous star you’ve got to make a reservation to spend time with. Sunset, however, is up for grabs. With its stunning sunrise, you’d think more people would also make the connection to a spectacular sunset. However, Haleakala remains largely overlooked. So, if you want to escape from the crowded shorelines, Haleakala’s soaring peak is the perfect place to watch the sun make its grand descent.
Beach days are made at Kapalua Bay, and so are Maui sunsets. Visitors to Maui could spend a whole day here, from sunrise to sunset, enjoying the calm blue waters and gorgeous white sand. The hours will fly by as you swim, snorkel, and dive among Kapalua’s rich wonders before a fiery show tops it all at dusk. And when twilight falls, the mirror effect of the rocky outcroppings protecting the cove is not to be missed.
Hanakao’o Beach Park
Connected to the ever-popular Ka’anapali beach, Hanakao’o—or as it’s often called, Canoes Beach—is a more local option. The upside is the quieter escape it offers from the bustling Ka’anapali beach while guaranteeing the same splendid views. Of course, this extends to sunset as well. The gorgeous vista over Lanai and extended beachfront for long walks make this a top Hawaii sunset destination.
The last beach on South Kihei Road, Keawakapu, offers another gorgeous look at the setting sun. Framed by expensive houses and palm trees, you can relax in the shade or closer to the lapping waves as you watch the sun’s journey to the horizon. Thanks to a flat and open stretch of sand over half a mile, your view of the sunset will be unmatched and unobstructed, no matter where you choose to sit.
Lahaina Pali Trail
For those who don’t like their Hawaii sunsets to come easy, the Lahaina Pali trail endeavors to make you appreciate the setting sun just that extra bit more. The trail contains an elevated 500-foot hike at the end to take you up to the viewpoint, but the challenge is worth it to take in the scene from the top. The occasional peak at whales in the distance and a brilliant display of light and color as the sun dips behind the sea make this a standout Hawaii sunset location.
Makena Cove (Secret Beach)
Magnificent Hawaii sunsets and sunny Kihei go hand in hand. Unfortunately, Secret Beach isn’t much of a secret, with beach weddings frequently crowding the small slip of shore. But if anything, that should tell you all you need to know about the view. This wedding venue lives up to the hype, with breathtaking vistas of the sunrise and sunset that make Makena Cove a must for greeting the sun with the dawn or bidding it farewell at twilight.
What Time Is Golden Hour in Hawaii?
Golden hour in Hawaii depends on sunset times. In Hawaii, sunset typically falls around 6:00 PM in the winter and 7:00 PM in the summer, so golden hour will occur just before that. However, don’t expect a full sixty-minute show. Golden hour rarely lasts longer than thirty minutes.
Why Does the Sun Set So Fast in Hawaii?
Hawaii’s sunsets are gorgeous but fleeting, thanks to its position closer to the equator. On average, sunsets last roughly thirty minutes in the United States; however, near the equator, they only last twenty minutes.
Due to the proximity of the equator, sunsets in Hawaii are quicker than in the rest of the USA. So, keep your eyes on the sky and soak in the enchanting sunsets while they last.
Experience More Hawaii Sunsets with Next Vacay
Enjoying a beautiful Hawaii sunset is free; the flight to get you there is decidedly less so. Going to Hawaii to soak in the sunset shouldn’t empty your bank account. Next Vacay makes sure it doesn’t.
Next Vacay finds the best deals for Hawaii’s biggest islands. View the sunset from Mauna Kea with a great deal into Kona International, or bask in the glow of a stunning sunset over Tantalus Lookout with a cheap flight into Honolulu. No matter where you fly, Next Vacay can help you save big. Because while flights aren’t free, they should always be cheap.
Get ready to fly into the sunset with Next Vacay.