The Hawaiian Islands are home to unsurpassed natural beauty and stunning views, panoramic landscapes, and lookout points are a dime a dozen. From lookout points accessible simply by pulling off the highway, to overlooks that require a bit of hiking, you will not want to miss these 13 spots while living – or vacationing – in Hawaii.
1. Mt. Tantalus Lookout
For panoramic views of Honolulu and a fun drive, Mt. Tantalus cannot be beat. Bonus: there are usually fewer people here than any of Oahu’s other lookouts.
2. Pololu Valley Lookout
If you desire dramatic views of Hawaii Island’s northeastern coastline and impressive cliffs, head to Pololu Valley Lookout. With a stunning black sand beach, horses grazing on the hillside and small islands off shore, Pololu Valley is one of the best lookout points on the island.
3. Kalaupapa Lookout
On Molokai, there is little more famous that the view from Kalaupapa Lookout – visitors can look upon a former leprosy settlement from above, nestled between the Pacific Ocean and dramatic cliffs.
4. Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside
For breathtaking vistas of windward Oahu, you’ve got to check out the Nu’uanu Pali State Wayside, an extremely windy 1,186-foot high lookout where, once upon a time, Kamehameha I drove more than 400 soldiers off the cliff in the Battle of Nu’uanu.
5. Hanalei Valley Lookout
A jaw-dropping vista awaits you at the Hanalei Valley Lookout – the Hanalei River and expansive taro fields are flanked on either side by majestic mountains and waterfalls. Just off Highway 56/560, this picturesque lookout point proves that it’s not always about the ocean views.
6. Leleiwi Overlook
You won’t want to miss the massive crater viewed from the Leleiwi Lookout inside Haleakala National Park – at 7.5 miles long, 2.5 miles wide and 3,000 feet deep, you could fit the entire island of Manhattan inside this volcanic crater. Fun fact: Astronauts used to train for moon voyages here.
7. Garden of the Gods
Also known as Keahiakawelo, this otherworldly rock garden at the end of Polihua Road is located 45 minutes from Lanai City on a dirt path only advised for vehicles with four-wheel drive. On a clear day, visitors can see the islands of Molokai and Oahu.
8. Lanai Lookout
From the parking lot of this scenic overlook, you will have uninterrupted views of the stunning Pacific Ocean, and, on a clear day, the island of Lanai. But what is really special about this lookout is the stunning lava formations you’ll find once you hop over the short wall surrounding the lot.
9. Waimea Canyon Lookout
Perhaps the most famous lookout in all of Hawaii, Waimea Canyon is truly a piece of heaven on earth. Sometimes referred to as the “Grand Canyon of the Pacific,” no vacation to Kauai is complete without a stop at the Waimea Canyon Lookout, and preferably, a hike through the neighboring Koke’e State Park.
10. Waipio Valley Lookout
The sacred Waipio Valley was once the boyhood home of King Kamehameha I, and is an important site for Hawaiian history and culture. But history aside, “The Valley of the Kings” certainly appears as though it was made for royalty – the valley is surrounded by tropical vegetation and 2,000-foot high cliffs.
11. Laie Point State Wayside
Off the beaten path, on Oahu’s northeastern tip, is Laie Point State Wayside, a small point that juts into the Pacific Ocean and offers up an incredible vista of the Ko;’olau mountain range.
12. Kalalau Valley Lookout
One of the most photographed and recognized lookout points in Hawaii is Kalalau Valley, perhaps due to the fact that the valley, and surrounding coastline, have been featured in various Hollywood films, including King Kong and Jurassic Park.
13. Diamond Head Crater Summit
Perhaps the most popular tourist hike on Oahu leads to the summit of Diamond Head, where visitors will be rewarded with sweeping views of Honolulu, the vast Pacific, a charming lighthouse, and Diamond Head crater.
Which of these is your favorite lookout spot? What other overlooks would you add to this list?