Destinations / GO
“WHERE IS THE best view on Oahu?” you may ask. Is it Halekulani’s House Without a Key at
Sunset? Or maybe it’s at the Outrigger Reef
on the Beach? While both are pretty sensational, keep thinking. Maybe you prefer the
expansive views of Waikiki, accessible only via
hiking, or the sight of an unexpected, upside-down sunset during a downward dog? Getting
closer. We think the best views on Oahu are
the ones you earn. Enjoy this roundup of our
favorite perspectives seen while hiking, from
the back of a horse or on a yoga mat in the outdoors. Some are free, some require advance
reservations, but all require a bit of sunscreen.
From a long walk on a wild beach to a flowing waterfall, Oahu has a bevy of trails that
will inspire — here are our favorites that offer
great visual rewards.
• Diamond Head State Park Trail
While this hike is only a 1.6-mile loop, the quick
(560 feet) elevation climb can elicit a few moans
and groans from those happier in a lounge chair
with a cocktail. But don’t worry, we promise
the view of Waikiki at the top is well worth the
effort. The trail was built in 1908 as part of the
military’s defense, and you’ll notice a few rem-
nants along the way, such as a 225-foot lighted
tunnel, bunkers and a navigational lighthouse.
TIP: Get there early to avoid the crowds at this
popular tour bus destination. If you time
it right on the weekends, be sure to stop by
Kapiolani Community College’s farmers’
market for lunch and shopping after your hike.
• Makapuu Point Lighthouse Trail
Plan on arriving early for this two-hour
exposed hike to avoid the hottest part of the
day and the potentially intense afternoon
winds. The Makapuu Point trail, within Kaiwi
State Scenic Shoreline, is a paved trail as it
was once a former access road for the lighthouse, but it can be rocky, so wear good shoes.
The destination is the picturesque Makapuu
Lighthouse, built in 1909, where on a clear day
you can see Molokai and Lanai, and during
whale season (November through May) you
will have front-row seats to see the migrating
humpbacks frolicking below. There is a tele-
scope along the trail, but if you want a really
close look, binoculars are recommended.
TIP: To cool down after your hike, take a dip in
the bright blue waters at Makapuu Beach Park;
advanced bodysurfers can head the opposite
direction to Sandy’s Beach. The trailhead is
also near Sea Life Park, so if you happen to
have kids in tow, this is a good option too.
• Old Pali Highway
There are a variety of trails hikers can take
from the Nuuanu Pali State Park Lookout;
however, we recommend the 3.5-hour loop
starting at the bottom of the old highway at
the Koolau Country Club parking lot. Since
this is an out-and-back trek, it’s best to start
by going up so you can end by walking down.
Once you’ve parked, you will see an obvious
Stunning views from
the Pali Lookout.