The Hawaiian Islands are home to unsurpassed natural beauty. You are sure to find stunning views, panoramic landscapes, and signs leading to scenic overlooks around every turn. From lookout points accessible simply by pulling off the highway to overlooks that require a bit of hiking, you will want to add these 13 breathtaking scenic overlooks to your Hawaiian bucket list.
1. Lanai Lookout, Oahu
Nestled between Hanauma Bay and Koko Head to the west and the Halona Blowhole to the right on Kalanaianaole Highway, the breathtaking Lanai Lookout is often overlooked for more well-known attractions. From the parking lot of this scenic overlook, you will have uninterrupted views of the stunning Pacific Ocean, and, on a clear day, the islands of Lanai, Molokai and even Maui, but the volcanic formations you’ll find here are the true standouts.
2. Pololu Valley Lookout, Hawaii Island
If you desire dramatic views of Hawaii Island’s northeastern coastline and impressive cliffs, head to Pololu Valley, Waipio Valley’s lesser known - but still just as gorgeous - cousin. 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. Papawai Scenic Lookout, Maui
This stunning little lookout point, located on Maui’s western coast near Lahaina, is home to sweeping views of the vast Pacific Ocean - and killer sunsets. The area off the coast is designated as a Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and you’re sure to spot whales frolicing off the coast during the winter months.
4. Hanalei Valley Lookout, Kauai
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.
5. Garden of the Gods, Lanai
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.
6. Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site, Oahu
Nestled in the mountains above some of Oahu’s best north shore surfing spots, far away from the crowds, is the often overlooked Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site, a true undiscovered Hawaiian destination and scenic overlook. Pu’u O Mahuka is the largest such temple on the island of Oahu, and might have been constructed as early as the 1600s. Under the guidance of high priest Ka’opulupulu under Oʻahu chief Kahahana, in the late 1700s, during a period of political upheaval, it is suspected that there was human sacrifice at the temple, perhaps to encourage war success.
7. Mauna Kea Summit, Hawaii Island
Mauna Kea measures in at 13,796 feet above sea level, the highest point in the state of Hawaii. In fact, when measured from its oceanic base deep in the vast Pacific, the mountain measures in at more than 33,000 feet tall – that’s higher than Mount Everest. And the views from above the clouds at the summit are truly second to none - especially at sunset.
8. Waimea Canyon Lookout, Kauai
Often referred to as the "Grand Canyon of the Pacific," Waimea Canyon is certainly a thing of immense beauty. At ten miles long, a mile wide and approximately 3,600 feet deep, it is home to plants and trees of all shapes and sizes – giving it a more dynamic landscape than its more famous canyon cousin. For anyone planning to visit this natural wonder, we urge you to consider exploring the neighboring Koke’e State Park for some less interrupted views of the canyon.
9. Leleiwi Overlook, Maui
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.
10. Makapu’u Point Lookout, Oahu
Located between the Makapu’u Lighthouse Trail and Makapu’u Beach on Oahu’s southeastern tip, this lookout point is the perfect spot to stop if you’re short on time, but still want to experience the beauty that is Oahu’s windward coast. Not only are the mountains here positively stunning, but the sparkling turquoise water is an absolute dream. During the winter months, you might even be able to watch whales frolic off the coast.
11. Kalaupapa Lookout, Molokai
Overlooking a former leprosy colony nestled between the vast Pacific Ocean and steep sea cliffs, Kalaupapa Lookout provides visitors with one of Molokai's most famous- and prettiest - views.
12. Kealakomo Overlook, Hawaii Island
With panoramic views of the Pacific Ocean, as well as the vast lava flow that buried the ancient village of Kealakomo, this overlook off of Hawaii Volcanoes National Park’s Chain of Craters Road does not disappoint. The viewing area is the perfect spot to take a few photographs - or stop for a picturesque picnic lunch.
13. Kalalau Valley Lookout, Kauai
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.