Pause for the show as Oahu's sunset accents the colors of paradise
Even a cloudy day is glorious on the island of Oahu. On a sunny day in the city of Honolulu, watching the sun set over the Pacific is truly magical. Oahu is the third-largest island in Hawaii, which means you'll find plenty of viewing points to enjoy this daily show. Grab some sunscreen and a camera and head out to the spot of your choosing.
Hawaii doesn't observe daylight saving time, so the timing of sunset doesn't change as dramatically over the course of the year as it does on the mainland. Sunset is at its earliest in November and December, when it happens between 5:45 and 6 p.m., and at its latest in June and July, when the event occurs around 7:15. During spring, the sun sets between 6:30 and 7 p.m., and in fall, between 6 and 6:30 p.m.
There's no shortage of places to see the sunset. However, rain is a significant factor to consider on Oahu because the island can experience wildly different types of weather at once. Specifically, the windward side of the island tends to be rainier than the leeward side. Translation: If you're on the east side of Oahu, there's a greater chance your sunset viewing will get rained out. The views are better from the west side, anyway, because from that side of the island, you can watch the sun sink below the Pacific.
Winter also tends to be the rainiest time of year. Even if you find a cozy indoor spot to watch, clouds sometimes obscure the famous Oahu sunsets during winter. But that's the only significant obstruction in enjoying this sight. If the sky is clear, you can see a spectacular sunset nearly every day.
If you want to see the sun set over the water, head to the leeward side of the island. (Remember: That means the west coast.) The appropriately named Sunset Beach, just west of the island's northern tip, offers one of the best sunset vantage points on all of Oahu. Because it's a popular spot from which to watch the nightly event, the beach does get fairly crowded, but it's not impossible to find parking. Surf competitions are sometimes held at Sunset Beach, and visitors can usually see surfers at work on any given day.
If you're in Honolulu, it's worth making your way through the crowds at Waikiki Beach to see the sunset from this popular tourist spot. However, the throngs of people make this beach a challenging place to hang out for long periods of time, so plan to get there just for sunset and do the rest of your beach lounging elsewhere.
Makaha Beach Park is on the west side of Oahu, about 35 miles from Honolulu. It's not immediately close to any attractions, which means getting there requires a special trip. But this also means that it's not as crowded as some of the island's beaches, so it can provide an unobstructed view of the sunset. This beach has pretty calm waves, and it's one of the best places on the island for snorkeling. It offers little shade, so bring an umbrella.
Off the sand
If you have a car, you can drive away from the crowded beaches and watch the sun set over both the island and the water. Head up to Puʻu ʻUalakaʻa State Park, about a 6-mile drive from downtown Honolulu. From the Tantalus Lookout there, you can take in incredible views of the sun setting out beyond the city. The park closes shortly after sunset, so plan to get going as soon as darkness falls. Limited parking is available close to the lookout, so you may need to park a little farther down the road and walk to the viewing point.
The Ko Olina resort, about 25 miles up the western coast from Honolulu, also offers views of the sunset. The resort actually comprises four independent resorts, including Disney's Aulani Resort & Spa, and it has three separate lagoons that are dotted with various restaurants and bars. Watch the sunset from one of the Aulani or Four Seasons restaurants on the first lagoon or from the Marriott's Longboards Bar & Grill on the third lagoon.