Some of the best Oahu lookouts are within easy reach from Waikiki. Here are some to put on your to-do list for your next island excursion.
Diamond Head Lookout
No other landmark on the island of Oahu is more popular than Diamond Head. Located at the east end of Waikiki, this volcanic cinder cone has decorated many postcards and wallpapers. One of the best lookout points is located at the top of Diamond Head, accessible on foot via a hiking trail (it takes about 30-40 minutes to hike up to the viewing platform). Even though there isn’t much shade and it can get hot, the view is very much worth it. From up here you can see a large stretch of Oahu’s south shore, all the way from Pearl Harbor in the west to Kahala in the east, with downtown Honolulu and Waikiki in the middle.
Ever wondered where Diamond Head got its name from? It was back in 1825 when British sailors approaching Oahu noticed small sparkling calcite crystals around the crater and in the beach sand, so they named the crater Diamond Hill. This name was later changed to Diamond Head.
Nu’uanu Pali Lookout
Located at the top of the 1,200-foot-high pali (meaning “cliff” in Hawaiian) between Honolulu and Oahu’s windwardcoast, the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout offers magnificent views of a large stretch of Oahu’s east shore, including the towns of Kailua and Kaneohe and the green peaks of the Ko’olau Mountains.
This lookout is also an important historical location. In an effort to reunite all the Hawaiian Islands, King Kamehameha the Great fought his last battle here in 1795. His army of 10,000 soldiers forced several hundred of rival chief Kalanikupule’s soldiers off these cliffs. Legend has it that on certain nights, one can still hear the screams of the warriors.
This lookout is easily accessible from the road. Located along Kalanianaole Highway near Oahu’s southeastern tip, Makapu’u Point overlooks the steep sea cliffs, Makapu’u Beach and two small islands, called Rabbit Island (also known as Manana Island) and Kaohikaipu Island.
Hanauma Bay Lookout
Hanauma Bay is Oahu’s prime snorkeling destination, home to a spectacular reef and more than 450 kinds of tropical fish, many of which can only be found in Hawaii. But before going down to the beach, spend some time at the bay’s two great lookout points, one located near the entrance and the other one behind the restaurant to the east. Tip: Wear polarized sunglasses to better see the outline of the bay’s coral reef.
Halona Blowhole Lookout
This popular attraction is located along Kalanianaole Highway on Oahu’s southeastern shore. The entire area is very scenic with steep sea cliffs and views of small bays along the rocky shore. The blowhole is an underwater lava tube with an opening on the rocky shelf. When water from the ocean enters the tube, the pressure in it increases and the water shoots up into the air above the rocky shelf, sometimes up to 30 feet. This natural phenomenon can best be observed when the surf is up. The higher the waves, the more action at the blowhole. To the west of the blowhole is Halona Beach Cove, also known as Eternity Beach. This little beach was made popular in the 1953 movie From Here to Eternity.
Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park
Also known as Mt. Tantalus, the summit of Pu’u Ualaka’a offers fantastic views of Honolulu and Waikiki. Come during the day to enjoy a picnic here, or watch the sunset and city lights in the evening. The state park is accessible via Round Top Drive, which loops around Tantalus.