There are a few good lookouts on Oahu but my favorite for sunset is the Tantalus Lookout. There is a huge lawn you can roll a picnic rug out on and watch as the sun goes down over Diamond Head Crater and the entire Waikiki region.
Tantalus Lookout is by far the best spot to watch the sunset if you want to enjoy a view of the entire city. Unfortunately, Diamond Head Hike is closed before sunset otherwise it would easily be the number one pick. Tantalus Lookout is on top a 1048 ft hill and allows you to see inside Diamond Head Crater, the entirety of Waikiki and to the horizon line on the ocean.
The great part is that the Tantalus Lookout security only closes the gates just after sunset so it is kind of common practice for them to let everyone enjoy the show before ushering everyone out and locking the gates to the parking lot.
The road leading up to the Tantalus Lookout summit on Oahu is a beautiful drive winding through the lush suburb of Manoa. There are many hairpins turns and if you keep your eyes open you will take in great views of Waikiki before you even reach the top. Driving this route on the moped is really fun, although it is slow going on the steep incline on the way to the top.
Tantalus Lookout on Oahu is a prime location to spot a rainbow. I have been lucky enough to see one on every visit to Tantalus, just another reason why it is the best Oahu lookout. The weather up here changes in an instance and I can suggest bringing a jacket even if it is warm and calm down in Waikiki. It is always windy up at Tantalus Lookout.
From the parking a lot, a paved walkway leads you down to a grassy slope, which feels like a natural amphitheater. It’s a great spot to bring a rug or a towel to lay on but definitely bring some warm clothes as it gets really windy and can be chilly once the sun has started to set.
I recommend heading up to the lookout on your first or second night if you are on vacation. It’s fun to spot out your hotel, Diamond Head Crater, and other landmarks you may have noticed while down at sea-level. It also helps to give you an understanding of the area you are staying in, which will definitely help you with directions for the rest of your stay.
Tantalus Lookout is only 15 minutes from Waikiki, which will cost about 15 dollars with an Uber and maybe a little more with a cab. If you are riding a moped like us, you can definitely make it all the way up to Tantalus Lookout, just be prepared to struggle up some of the steep roads of Manoa!
Where to stay on Oahu
Hilton Hawaiian Village Beach Resort (Overall Favorite): In the heart of Waikiki, this high-end resort is right on the beach. Luxury rooms overlooking the beach, a private lagoon and a free fireworks and dance performance show. Hilton is easily the most recognizable hotel on the Island.
Why I recommend this hotel: It has its own private lagoon. While lots of people love the beach it is perfect for families. Kids can kayak, swim and snorkel with no worries. There are no currents, waves or sea creatures to worry about. The hotel is right on Waikiki Beach so don’t worry the beach is right there also.
Sheraton Waikiki (Luxury): A luxury resort with the most amazing infinity pool on the island, which overlooks the beach. The bar and nightclub at the Sheraton is a great place to relax after a long day of island adventures.
Why I recommend this hotel: The Sheraton is always exceptional no matter the location but imagine you are leaning over the edge of an infinity pool, the ocean is below you and you turn to your left and watch Diamond Head crater in the distance. That’s where you will be at the end of each day, having a Mai Tai cocktail in your infinity pool. Later on, in the evening Rumfire is a great bar venue, which is actually part of the Sheraton. It is open to the public and is one of the best high-end venues on Oahu. It has a small dance floor but is mostly standing and seating areas for drinks, chats and good times.
Ewa Hotel Waikiki: (Value): Hotels in Waikiki can be expensive. Deciding where to stay on Oahu can be difficult if you don’t have much cash. Luckily, there is an accommodation option on the edge of Waikiki that is excellent value.
Why do I recommend this hostel/hotel: This is the perfect hotel if you want location but are willing to sacrifice a pool and some luxury items to save up to $200 per night. All of the hotels in this area are minimum $300 per night and often much more. Ewa Hotel is just one block back from the beach and is just over $150 USD. If you are like me, I never swim in the hotel pool anyway. Didn’t you come halfway across the world to swim in the beach!
Waikiki Beachside Hostel (Budget Choice): A budget alternative, which is still in an amazing location. Walking distance to Waikiki beach and a central location to base yourself for a week of adventures.
Why I recommend this hostel: Unfortunately Waikiki and Honolulu, in general, are not cheap. You can grab a dorm room for under $35 a night within walking distance to Waikiki surf beach. This location really is great. You are near a lot of attractions and can take public transport to a lot of great east coast beaches and hikes. It is the number one hostel in Waikiki and I’m sure you will meet other adventurers to go on hikes with!
Disney Aulani Resort (Family Choice): This is a resort your kids will never forget. It honestly feels like a theme park at times with just how many pools and activities are available. If you can afford it, this is the #1 place to stay for families on Oahu.
Why I recommend this hotel: Disney Aulani Resort combines luxury accommodation with family fun. A huge lazy river/tire tube lagoon is probably the highlight of the resort although the water slides and private beach aren’t too far behind. The kids club and massage center are just among a few of the many activities included in your stay. Attend ukelele lessons, free fire-pit story-telling at night and more and more! Your kids will never be bored and the quality of entertainment and facilities is just beyond amazing.
MORE OAHU BLOG POSTS
I lived on Oahu for two years and loved adventuring from the beaches to the mountains to the waterfalls! These are my most popular blog post and guides from the beautiful island of Oahu to help you plan your trip!
What to pack for Hawaii: THE HAWAII PACKING LIST: WHAT TO PACK AND WHY
A helpful guide to choosing accommodation: WHERE TO STAY ON OAHU: WHICH REGION IS BEST FOR YOU?
Most epic hike on Oahu: THE STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN OAHU, HAWAII: UPDATED 2018
The best Waterfalls: 11 AMAZING WATERFALLS ON OAHU, HAWAII
Ultimate Cliff Jumping Guide: 11 BEST CLIFF JUMPING SPOTS ON OAHU, HAWAII
Guide to Swimming with Sea Turtles: WHERE TO SEE TURTLES ON OAHU, HAWAII
The Best Hikes on Oahu: 10 BEST HIKES ON OAHU, HAWAII
My favorite experience on Oahu: AMAZING DOORS OFF HELICOPTER TOUR OF OAHU, HAWAII
The Ultimate Guide to Oahu: 80 THINGS TO DO ON OAHU – THE BUCKET LIST