Hey there my fellow travel enthusiasts and welcome to my post where we will check out the 26 best places to watch the sunrise in Hawaii. With miles of western facing beaches, Hawaii is known for its beautiful sunsets. But did you know that on the other side of the islands, the sunrise is equally as stunning.
So, whatever island you’re on, make sure to wake up early and catch the sunrise at one of Hawaii’s stunning spots.
Map Of Hawaii’s Best Places to watch the Sunrise
Use this map to identify the location of the best sunrise spots in Hawaii listed below:
Best Places to Watch the Sunrise in Hawaii
Honestly, if you’re looking for some of the best spots in Hawaii to watch the sunrise, you really can’t go wrong looking for an eastern facing beach, headland or cliff top. However, the list below does highlight some of the better spots to look at on each island:
Some good places to catch the sunrise on Oahu include:
1. Lanikai Beach
Situated on the windward side of Oahu in the charming town of Kailua, Lanikai Beach is frequently heralded as one of the world’s premier beaches. Its powdery white sands and sparkling turquoise waters offer an idyllic backdrop for a sunrise viewing.
The presence of the two Mokulua Islands, affectionately known as “The Mokes”, offshore makes the sunrise here even more picturesque as when the sun’s rays break the horizon, they cast a magical glow over these islands, offering a perfect photo opportunity.
2. Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail
Located on the southeastern tip of Oahu, this relatively short and paved trail offers an elevated vantage point overlooking the vast Pacific Ocean. As the sun rises, it illuminates the rugged coastline, Makapu’u Beach and the distant islands of Molokai and Lanai.
The gentle sound of waves crashing below and the occasional sighting of migrating humpback whales during the winter months make this spot even more enchanting.
3. Diamond Head Crater
Just a short drive from the bustling Waikiki, the hike up Diamond Head Crater is a favorite among both locals and tourists alike. Once at the summit, viewers are treated to a panoramic view of Honolulu, Waikiki and the Pacific Ocean as the sun rises.
The iconic silhouette of Diamond Head against the brightening sky as the sun rises is truly a sight to behold.
4. Waimanalo Bay Beach Park
Nestled between the lush Ko’olau Mountain Range and a long stretch of soft white sand, Waimanalo Bay offers a serene location for sunrise enthusiasts.
The gentle lapping of waves and the towering ironwood trees lining the beach make it a tranquil spot to welcome the day and the beach’s length also means that it’s possible to find a quiet, personal spot even if others are present.
5. Kualoa Regional Park
Overlooking the iconic and mystic Chinaman’s Hat (Mokoli’i Island), Kualoa Regional Park is a spacious area perfect for laying out a blanket and waiting for the sun to emerge.
The park offers views of Kaneohe Bay, the lush Kualoa Mountains and of course, the sunrise over the small offshore island. This spot beautifully captures the essence of Oahu’s diverse landscapes in one panoramic sweep.
Some good places to catch the sunrise on Kauai include:
6. Hanalei Bay
Located on the north shore of Kauai, Hanalei Bay is a vast, crescent-shaped bay flanked by majestic mountains, waterfalls, and taro fields.
The early morning reflection of the mountains and the changing colors of the sky on the calm waters of the bay create a surreal and tranquil sunrise experience.
7. Kapa’a Overlook
Positioned along the Coconut Coast, this overlook offers sweeping views of the shoreline. Watching the sun emerge from the vast expanse of the ocean, with the rhythmic sounds of the waves and the first light painting the coastal town of Kapa’a, is a magical expereience.
8. Poipu Beach
This popular beach in the south of Kauai is not only a haven for snorkelers and swimmers but also a lovely spot for sunrise.
The sun’s first rays illuminate the gentle waves, creating a shimmering effect across the water’s surface and golden sands.
9. Kilauea Lighthouse
Standing on a bluff overlooking the Pacific, the Kilauea Lighthouse and the surrounding wildlife refuge offer a dramatic viewpoint for sunrise.
The contrast of the historic lighthouse against the fiery hues of dawn is both nostalgic and awe-inspiring.
10. Waimea Canyon
Although it’s a bit unconventional for a sunrise spot, the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific” is stunning at dawn. The early light reveals layers upon layers of the canyon’s rugged terrain, painted in shades of red and green, with mists often settled below as well.
Some good places to catch the sunrise on Maui include:
11. Haleakalā Summit
The summit of Haleakalā National Park stands majestically over 10,000 feet above sea level, offering visitors a surreal, otherworldly sunrise experience. As the first rays of light pierce the horizon, a vast sea of clouds beneath the summit begins to glow in ethereal shades of orange and pink making it a sight so profound that many equate the experience to a spiritual awakening.
Due to its popularity, early reservations are often essential, ensuring everyone can experience the magic without overcrowding.
12. Ho’okipa Beach Park
Nestled on Maui’s vibrant north shore, Ho’okipa Beach Park is a surfer’s paradise. The morning sun illuminates the rhythmic waves crashing against the shoreline, creating a shimmering spectacle, enhanced by the silhouettes of surfers catching the early morning waves.
The blend of natural beauty with the vibrant energy of the surf community makes this location stand out and the palm trees lining the coast add a tropical touch to the picturesque sunrise.
13. Wai’anapanapa State Park
The iconic Black Sand Beach within Wai’anapanapa State Park near Hana offers a unique sunrise experience. As dawn breaks, the sun casts a gentle light on the pitch-black volcanic sands, creating a mesmerizing contrast.
At tis time the rugged coastline, with its sea caves and arches, becomes dramatically outlined as well making the scenery even more enchanting. The sound of waves echoing inside the also caves adds an auditory depth to the visual beauty too.
14. Makena Beach (Big Beach)
Makena Beach, situated in Makena State Park, stretches out with its vast expanse of golden sands ands as the sun rises, it bathes the serene beach in a warm, golden hue, accompanied by the soothing sound of waves lapping the shore.
The tranquil ambiance, coupled with the vastness of the ocean, makes it a perfect spot for reflection and relaxation. Nearby volcanic outcroppings provide additional interest to the landscape as well.
Big Island (Hawaii Island)
Some good places to catch the sunrise on the Big Island include:
15. Mauna Kea Summit
Rising majestically over Hawaii Island, the Mauna Kea Summit offers a breathtaking viewpoint that’s truly above the clouds. As dawn approaches, the first light reveals a panorama of the vast Pacific Ocean and the islands in the distance.
The astronomical observatories at the summit add a touch of modernity against the ancient landscape and the elevation and clear skies also offer an unmatched stargazing experience post-sunrise.
16. Hilo Bay
Overlooking the eastern shores of Hawaii Island, Hilo Bay awakens gracefully with the dawn. The calm waters of the bay reflect the ever-changing hues of the sky, while Coconut Island provides a charming focal point.
The town of Hilo, with its quaint buildings and sleepy streets, begins to glow as well creating a serene, postcard-perfect scene. Nearby Banyan Drive, lined with historic trees, is an added attraction as it gradually lights up with the sun’s rays.
17. Lava Fields in Puna
The expansive lava fields in Puna serve as a stark reminder of the Big Island‘s volcanic nature and as the sun rises, it casts long shadows across the rugged, hardened lava landscapes creating a play of light and dark that’s truly mesmerizing.
These fields, devoid of most vegetation, appear almost alien in the early light offering a unique contrast to the tropical beauty elsewhere on the island. Steam vents releasing geothermal energy add an ethereal mist to the scene as well.
18. Akaka Falls State Park
Nestled amidst lush tropical foliage, Akaka Falls State Park is a gem on the Big Island’s northeastern coast. As morning light filters through the dense canopy, it illuminates the mist surrounding the cascading Akaka Falls, creating a radiant, shimmering spectacle.
The surrounding rainforest, with its myriad shades of green, comes alive with the sounds of birds and flowing water adding to the ambiance. The pathway leading to the falls also provides numerous viewpoints, each offering a distinct perspective of the sunrise.
Some good places to catch the sunrise on Molokai include:
19. Halawa Valley
This ancient valley, steeped in Hawaiian history, offers a breathtaking panorama during sunrise as the sun’s rays gradually unveil the verdant valley, cascading waterfalls and the deep blue of the Pacific.
The palm-fringed Halawa Bay at the valley’s mouth glistens as the day breaks and the sacred feel of the land becomes palpable. Stories of ancient Hawaiians echo in the wind, making it a deeply resonant place to welcome a new day.
20. Kalaupapa Lookout
Overlooking the historic Kalaupapa Peninsula, this lookout offers a poignant sunrise view. As the sun emerges, it lights up the cliffs and the peninsula below, where a former leper colony once stood.
The blend of natural beauty and the area’s somber history evokes deep reflection and the surrounding greenery and ocean views add layers of depth to the scene.
21. Papohaku Beach
One of the largest white sand beaches in Hawaii, Papohaku Beach offers a vast, serene landscape for sunrise enthusiasts. The sky’s changing colors are mirrored on the expansive sands, with the gentle sound of waves in the background.
Being relatively secluded, the beach also provides a tranquil and undisturbed experience as its sheer length ensures that even with a few early risers, one can find a private spot to enjoy the view all by yourself or that special loved one.
22. Molokai Harbor
Situated near the main town of Kaunakakai, Molokai Harbor awakens with the island’s daily activities as the sun rises. The soft light paints the docked boats, rippling waters and distant Lanai island, creating a picturesque coastal scene.
The harbor’s gentle hustle and bustle, combined with the dawn’s tranquility, offers a unique blend of peace and vibrancy. Nearby landmarks and shops begin their day, adding to the locale’s charm.
Some good places to catch the sunrise on Lanai include:
23. Hulopoe Bay
Widely regarded as one of Hawaii’s best beaches, Hulopoe Bay on Lanai’s southern coast is a magnificent spot to catch the sunrise. As dawn breaks, the marine conservation area’s crystal-clear waters begin to shimmer, revealing a plethora of marine life.
The bay’s rock formations and tide pools become highlighted, creating myriad photographic opportunities. The sounds of morning birds and the gentle lapping of waves make the experience even more memorable.
24. Lanai Lookout
Providing a sweeping view of the Pacific and neighboring islands, Lanai Lookout is a vantage point like no other. As the sun rises, it casts a golden hue on the red and brown earth formations of the lookout, contrasting beautifully with the azure waters below.
On clear days, the islands of Maui and Molokai are visible in the distance, basking in the morning light. The elevated position ensures an unobstructed and panoramic view of the horizon as well.
25. Shipwreck Beach
Known for the World War II-era shipwreck that lies close to its shore, Shipwreck Beach offers a distinctive sunrise setting. The rusting vessel becomes silhouetted against the emerging sun, while the long, sandy coastline starts glowing in the morning light.
The beach, with its strong currents and vast stretch of sand, exudes a wild, untouched charm enhanced by the dawn’s serenity. Driftwood and other ocean treasures scattered along the beach add interest to morning explorations too.
26. Garden of the Gods (Keahiakawelo)
This otherworldly rock garden on Lanai’s northern side looks especially ethereal during sunrise. The landscape, filled with red rock formations and boulders, takes on a mystical aura as the sun’s rays play across its rugged surface.
Legends speak of gods and ancient Hawaiian battles, making the location steeped in mystery and the light and shadow across the rocks, combined with the area’s rich lore, ensures a sunrise experience that’s visually stunning.
Why Hawaii for Sunrise Watching?
When it comes to watching the sunrise, Hawaii is a paradise that should be on everyone’s bucket list. With its unique location and stunning natural beauty, Hawaii offers some of the most breathtaking sunrise views in the world. Here are a few reasons why Hawaii is the perfect destination for sunrise watching:
- Location: Hawaii is located in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, which means that it is one of the first places (or last, depending on how you look at it) in the United States to see the sunrise. This makes it an ideal location for early risers who want to catch the first rays of the day.
- Natural Beauty: Hawaii is known for its stunning natural beauty and watching the sunrise is one of the best ways to experience it. From the top of a volcano to the beach, Hawaii offers a variety of locations to watch the sunrise that showcase its natural beauty.
- Peaceful Atmosphere: Watching the sunrise in Hawaii is a peaceful and serene experience. The sound of the waves crashing on the shore, the birds singing and the cool morning breeze create a calming atmosphere that is perfect for starting your day.
- Cultural Significance: In Hawaiian culture, the sunrise is a symbol of new beginnings and a time to give thanks for the blessings of the day. Watching the sunrise in Hawaii is not just a beautiful experience, but also a cultural one that allows you to connect with the local culture and traditions.
Best Time to Watch Sunrise in Hawaii
I mean, this probably goes without saying but if you want to catch the sunrise, you need to be in your position before the sun rises right. That said, generally, the best time to watch the sunrise in Hawaii is in the early morning hours around 5:00 am to 7:00 am. This is when the sky is usually clear, and the colors of the sunrise are most vibrant.
However, it’s important to check the sunrise time for the specific location you plan to visit, as the sunrise time can vary by a few minutes depending on your location in Hawaii and the time of year. During the summer months, the sunrise time can be as early as 5:30 am, while during the winter months, the sunrise time can be as late as 7:00 am.
In addition to checking the sunrise time, it’s also a good idea to arrive early to secure a good viewing spot. Many popular sunrise viewing spots can get crowded, so arriving early will ensure that you get a good view of the sunrise.
Safety and Preparation Tips
When planning to watch the sunrise in Hawaii, it’s important to take certain precautions to ensure your safety and enjoyment. Here are some tips to keep in mind:
- Bring a flashlight or headlamp: If you’re planning to arrive at your chosen viewing spot before sunrise, it’s a good idea to bring a flashlight or headlamp in case you need it. Some areas may be poorly lit or have uneven terrain, so having a light source can help prevent accidents.
- Eat breakfast beforehand: Watching the sunrise can be a magical experience, but it’s important to fuel your body beforehand. Make sure to eat a healthy breakfast to keep your energy levels up.
- Stretch and exercise: Depending on where you choose to watch the sunrise, you may need to do some light hiking or walking. Make sure to stretch beforehand and take breaks as needed to prevent injury.
- Follow posted signs and rules: Some areas may have specific rules or regulations regarding sunrise viewing. Make sure to read any posted signs and follow the rules to ensure your safety and the safety of others.
By following these tips, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable sunrise viewing experience in Hawaii.
There you have it, 26 best places to watch the sunrise in Hawaii. As usual, let me know of your experiences here or if there is anywhere you think I need to add.
Also, please do not hesitate to comment below if you have any questions, concerns, or corrections or would like me to check anything else out for you.
Until next time.