1. Lanikai Pillbox
The Lanikai Pillbox hike is an excellent, easy trek for anyone seeking a breathtaking view of the sunrise. Although it begins with a short and steep incline, it eventually flattens out and becomes a leisurely walk along the ridge where you’ll have panoramic views of Lanikai Beach and Mokulua Islands. You can bring your whole family to watch the sunrise. The sun rises majestically in between the two islands while casting a beautiful light on the water- making this place a perfect spot for any photographer.
The three pillboxes are a great way to experience the area’s history, and they also offer fantastic views. It’ll take you approximately 25 minutes to summit the first pillbox, but we urge you to spend some time at each of the three lookout points(and oh, these used to be military lookout points!) to enjoy panoramic views of your surroundings. You can head back down when you’re ready. Just be warned that parking can be quite difficult, so it’s best to hike up early in the morning.
2. Makapuu Lighthouse Trail
Oahu’s Makapuu Lighthouse Trail is a perfect short hike for those who want to catch the sunrise. The view from the lighthouse of the Pacific Ocean is amazing, and it’s only 1.5 miles roundtrip! The 45-minute walk is great for beginners or families with young children since it’s paved the whole way. You’ll love watching the sun slowly peek over Rabbit Island and Kaohikaipu Island State Seabird Sanctuary!
There’s more to see than just the breathtaking views from atop of Makapuu Lighthouse Trail. For a fun bonus, make sure to take a quick detour down to the tidepools and blowhole for an up close and personal experience with nature. Hiking this trail will definitely become one of the highlights of your trip to Oahu.
3. Hanauma Bay Lookout
See the colors of the sunrise reflect off the crystal clear waters of Hanauma Bay from the lookout point.
A lovely morning stroll awaits those willing to take on the short and easy hike to Hanauma Bay Lookout. The round-trip is only a mile, it’s paved making the journey simpler. As the bay is incredible with such famed crystal clear waters and plethora of marine life abound in this bay, you can expect to see more amazing views in your hike here.
4. Diamond Head State Monument
Oahu’s Diamond Head State Monument is one of the most well-known hikes on the island for a reason – its stunning views. You can see Molokai from here on clear days, as well as the city and coastline in all their glory.
The hike is from easy-to moderate and the ascent to the summit is 500 feet and quite strenuous, so set aside some time for this popular hike when you’re looking for things to do on Oahu! This saucer-shaped volcanic crater is worth visiting and guaranteed to be one of your unforgettable adventures.
Although the views alone make Diamond Head worthwhile, the monument is also home to numerous historic landmarks, like lighthouses and military bunkers. They provide an intriguing look into Hawaii’s history and you should delve into them while you’re here.
Overall, whether you’re an experienced hiker or someone who just wants to find a new place to take photos, Diamond Head is definitely worth looking into. Plus, during the winter season, you might even have the chance of seeing humpback whales as they swim by!
5. Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail
The Kuli’ou’ou Ridge Trail is an excellent way to start your day with a beautiful sunrise hike. This moderate difficulty level 5-mile trail has some of the most incredible views of Oahu’s East Coast.
You’ll have a perfect view of the sun rising behind the clouds. The entire trail is easy to follow because it’s well marked, except for near the end when you’re almost at the summit–there’s a steep incline. Even so, once you reach the top and see all the sights, it will all be worth getting up super early for!
6. Makiki Neighborhood Trail
The Makiki Neighborhood Trail is a short, 3.2-mile loop hike that offers incredible views of Diamond Head and Honolulu city – but sunrise is the best time to catch these vistas without the crowds! The trail opens at 5:30 am sharp, so be sure to get an early start if you want to avoid other nature-lovers. And don’t forget your water bottle (or two)! You’ll need it for this strenuous yet rewarding hike.
7. Koko Head Crater
Koko Head is the place to go for a breathtaking sunrise hike. It’ll be quite the workout, but when you get to the top and see panoramic views of Waikiki, Diamond Head, Hanauma Bay and Hawaii Kai, it will all be worth it.
This widely known hike near downtown Honolulu played an important role in WWII, when it was used to transport supplies. With over 1,000 stairs leading up to the summit crater’s edge, this difficult trek will give your calves a run for their money–but again–it’s so worth it.
The perfect place for an adventurous and challenging hike is Koko Head! The trailhead is easy enough to find, with ample parking nearby.
8. Mau’umae Trail (Pu’u Lanipo)
The Mau’umae Trail is a beautiful, 7-mile long hike that provides breathtaking views of not only the cityscape but also the ocean in the distance. The trailhead location in Mauna Lani Heights makes it easily accessible for everyone.
During your journey up this mountainside path, you’ll witness picturesque sights of the city down below—situated between two idyllic valleys. Although there are some challenges along the way like Inher rocky terrain and sudden elevation changes, nothing too strenuous!
Mau’umae Trail should definitely be on your bucket list! Not only will you get to see the picturesque Diamond Head Crater, but you’ll also witness the sun slowly peek over the horizon and cast its rays all over the place. It’s truly a phenomenal experience that cannot be missed.
9. Sandy Beach
Want to witness the sunrise but not fond of hiking? No worries, Sandy Beach in Oahu is the perfect place for you. There is no dedicated trail, but you can walk around some of the tidepools. Sandy Beach is a beautiful spot to watch the sun rise above Koko Crater, but it’s also one of the most dangerous beaches on Oahu.
Although the waves might look tempting, remember that every year there are reports of neck and back injuries from surfing here. So come enjoy the amazing view from the distance and be sure to stay safe!
10. Ala Moana Beach Park
Stunning sunrises are one of the many special things you can witness while on vacation in Oahu. If you don’t want to have to hike to see a good sunrise, Ala Moana Beach Park is where you should go.
This park is tucked away in the Hawaii Kai residential area, but it’s worth seeking out because of the magnificent views of the sun coming up over the water.
Ala Moana Beach Park is the place to go whether you want a calm atmosphere or lots of outdoor fun. Sunrise-watchers and those seeking activities like biking, walking, paddling, and playing volleyball will all find what they’re looking for at this park.