Top Spots to Watch the Sunrise in Hawaii

Top Spots to Watch the Sunrise in Hawaii

Get a beautiful jump on the day with sunrise in Hawaii By: Marty Wentzel
Among the most famous of Hawaii’s sunrise viewing spots is the summit of Halekala in Maui. // © Hawaii Tourism Japan
Among the most famous of Hawaii’s sunrise viewing spots is the summit of Halekala in Maui. // © Hawaii Tourism Japan

The Details

Hawaii State Parks

Hawaii Tourism Authority

National Park Service

Sunrise in Hawaii awakens all the senses with the sound of morning songbirds, the taste of salt in the air, the smell of tropical flowers and the views of multicolored skies. While island sunsets get all the hype, greeting the first light in a peaceful place can set an idyllic tone for the rest of the day.

U.S. mainland travelers to the 50th state tend to wake up early due to the difference in time zones, creating a perfect excuse to seek out the sunrise. But like so much in Hawaii, proclaiming the best sunrise-watching spot is a subjective call. 

Following are a few favorite destinations for catching the sun as it makes its debut, magically turning a black night sky to shades of red, orange and pink over the land of aloha.

Hawaii Island

Hawaii Volcanoes National Park
Pick a spot near Halemaumau crater and hear native iiwi birds tune up as day breaks over one of the most active volcanoes on earth. 

Liliuokalani Gardens
Located on Hilo’s Banyan Drive on the island’s east side, this tranquil oasis offers pre-morning vistas of Hilo Bay and Coconut Island.  

Pololu Valley Lookout
Come daybreak, this North Kohala perch provides front-row seats as the valley’s magnificent cliffs and coastline dramatically come into focus.


Ke Ala Hele Makalae Trail
Tracing the island’s eastern coast, this seaside path presents a picturesque venue for launching another beautiful day in paradise.

Kealia Beach
Stretching one-half mile, Kealia’s soft crescent of sand invites early risers to meditate, stroll, sip coffee and marvel at the sun’s rays spreading across the sea.


This 10,000-foot-high volcano is so famous for its sunrises that folks drive two hours to get there and huddle in blankets at the summit. The payoff is worth it.

For an invigorating start to the day, walk 20 minutes up the steep paved road to Fagan’s Cross. The reward: a breathtaking panorama of the Hana coastline. 


Lanikai Beach
The two offshore Mokulua Islands create a postcard-perfect backdrop for celebrating the dawn from this quiet east-Oahu waterfront.

Makapuu Lighthouse
An uphill hike to the historic south shore sentinel leads to a heady sunrise in Hawaii and, in winter, a spectacular spot to see humpback whales.

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