Our Hawaii section is run by our Hawaii expert Stephanie Amieva.
Setting aside time to watch a sunset in Hawaii is something that should be on your to do list while vacationing here. It’s one of those once in a lifetime moments that you will cherish every time you think about it or look at your photos.
Oahu sunsets are crystal clear, long, intense, slow and bright. The sky looks as if it’s been painted by an artist with all of the intricacies of a paint brush in strokes of oranges, yellows, reds and gold.
You can experience this in many ways - my favorites is to simply walk along the beach or sit on the sand.
Imagine watching the sun disappear behind the ocean, blinking ever so slightly before leaving the horizon.
It’s like the final bow of a performer before leaving the stage after an incredible show.
Location: North Shore
The name says it all. It’s aptly named because watching a sunset at Sunset Beach is simply marvelous. You’ll be looking towards the west as the sun sets just beyond the Waianae mountain range.
The north shore is known for its big waves in the winter and calm waters during the summer so either time is a magical time to go. It’s big and long with deep, wide sand that connects to the other world famous beaches on the north shore such as Pipeline. Perfect for long, deep thoughts or simply nothing at all. The air is clean and the sand soft and it’s not crowded.
Just you and a few lone surfers catching that last wave before dark.
Imagine soaking in the last warmth of the sun while the breezes blow gently against your face at Sunset Beach.
I also think that it’s a great place and time of day to ask for your sweetie’s hand in marriage.
Walk over to the far right or left corner of the beach, away from the parking area and lifeguard stand, so that the moment will be just right.
After hearing “yes!” walk slowly off into the distance as your footprints follow you and the sun continues to set.
Location: South Shore
Waikiki beach has that classic nostalgia that’s apparent in everything from vintage hula girls wearing leis and a smile to Don Ho singing Tiny Bubbles.
Modern day Waikiki might be fronted by high rise hotels but one classic characteristic that still remains and retains its charm is the pink Royal Hawaiian Hotel. I mention this one in particular because it’s one of the “classic” places from which to watch the sunset. Looking pretty much the same as it did 91 years ago.
Imagine sitting by the waterfront as the Beach Boys give their last surf lessons of the day or a Hawaiian canoe crew paddles by.
In the distance you might hear Hawaiian music by Israel Iz (Kamakawiwo’ole) such as Somewhere over the Rainbow as you sip on a mai tai with an umbrella and pineapple slice inside.
Catamarans will sail slowly by and evening luaus will begin greeting guests. Sunbathers have packed up and gone inside for the day.
This is the time that you will have Waikiki beach to yourself in a different way.
You can choose to sit on the beach in the way that I just described taking in the rhythm of the evening or you can choose to sit inside of a place like Rum Fire at the Sheraton Waikiki.
Here they have large oversized lounge chairs that you can sink into while listening to a modern artists sing popular cover tunes as you watch the sunset in this way. It’s an open air environment that still allows the breezes to flow through as your view is unobstructed.
Another option is to walk along the sand from mid-Waikiki such starting at the Royal Hawaiian and head towards the Hilton Hawaiian Village.
There is a little path that’s a mixture of sand and concrete where the water just might lap up and splash you gently.
Down by the Hilton Hawaiian Village the path is longer and has a section of much wider beach.
Tropics Bar & Grill is an excellent place to watch the sunset as its oceanfront location gives you a front row seat.
On Friday nights at 7:00 pm you’ll be treated to fireworks on the beach in front hosted by the Hilton. Go early on this day to ensure that you get a seat.
The lagoon at the Hilton Hawaiian Village is another place from which to catch the sunset. The glow casts nicely upon the still water catching the reflection of the palm trees.
This will make an excellent backdrop for your photos while you pinch yourself that this is REALLY happening.
Location: West Side
One of the most peaceful places to watch the sun set is at one of the lagoons in the resort area known as Ko’Olina. This is where the Marriot Beach Club and Disney Aulani Resorts are located.
It is also home to the Paradise Cove Luau which hosts a luau against the backdrop of one of the lagoons making for a stunning setting.
The view out west as the sun is setting is unobstructed and sits directly on the ocean.
This means no high rises or mountain ranges to obstruct your view because you are almost as far west as you can go on the island without sailing to the Orient or South Pacific.
Also, because of the low development on this part of the island you’ll get a true sense of peace and calm that plays alongside the rhythm of the Hawaii.
All of those picture-perfect postcards that you’ve seen that have made you want to visit Hawaii since forever can be shot right here.
There are 4 lagoons that are circular in shape and framed by black volcanic boulders.
The last one that’s closest to the marina at the end is my favorite. This one is larger, has more space to walk around and more parking.
I consider these to be very romantic and family-friendly at the same time. You’ll see couples walking or strolling hand in hand or families gathered together enjoying a good laugh.
The sand quality is not of the thick and/or powdery variety that Hawaii is known for but the other characteristics here more than make up for it.
The water inside the lagoons is calm, blue and tranquil while the open ocean splashes waves over the rock wall just beyond.
There are also lots of tall, skinny palm trees which create a beautiful mirror-like reflection on the still water of the lagoons.
This creates a stunning backdrop for photos as the sky becomes colored with red, orange and gold.
You could also go to one of the beachfront restaurants at one of the hotels for a tropical drink and or dinner while watching the sun set.
Taking the Ocean Joy Catamaran sunset cocktail cruise up and down the western coastline is also an incredible way to enjoy the sunset. It should definitely be on your bucket list of things to do in Hawaii if you enjoy boats.
The Ko’Olina area is about a 60 minute realistic drive from Waikiki in the city of Kapolei. I recommend not heading that way during rush hour because your drive time will skyrocket to 90-120 minutes.
Head out a little earlier to do some other things in the Kapolei area such as shopping at the Ka Makana Ali’i center, visiting the Wet n’ Wild water park or simply doing a drive to the end of the road on the west side at Yokohama Beach.
Overall, Ko’Olina ranks VERY high as a place to enjoy the sunset and create beautiful memories in Hawaii.
Stephanie Amieva is a former travel professional specializing in the Hawaiian Islands, most notably Oahu.
After living and working in the industry for the better part of 13 years she met and married her husband Pedro and is now an active duty military spouse.
Even though her mailing address varies her home at heart is still in Hawaii and she visits whenever she can.
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