We probably don’t have to tell you that the Hawaiian islands offer up some truly awe-inspiring scenery. Oahu, the island that’s home to the state’s capital, is no exception. There are lookout points with views of the vast Pacific scattered throughout the entire island – the key is knowing where to find them.
That’s where we come in. Enjoy our comprehensive guide of these unforgettable Oahu lookouts. When you’ve finished reading, your only remaining chore will be deciding how many spots you can cram into your schedule.
A tour we think you'll love
If you need help narrowing down the list, try booking an organized tour with our experienced guides. In addition to hitting Diamond Head, Halona Blowhole, Eternity Beach, and other Oahu lookouts from our list below, you’ll have the opportunity to visit the Dole Plantation, Green World Coffee Farms, and much more. Experience Oahu’s charm with us, visit our website to get started!
Oahu Lookouts – Honolulu Area
If you’re based in downtown Honolulu – whose name translates to “sheltered harbor” – you can easily take in the scenic view from any of the following lookouts. Most are just a short drive away, and well worth the trip. The Pali lookout is a prime destination, but you won’t be disappointed in any of the choices listed here.
1) Diamond Head
Also known as the Amelia Earhart Lookout, this volcanic tuff cone is the ideal spot for watching surfers at Diamond Head Beach. On clear days, you can enjoy views of the nearby islands of Molokai, Lanai, and Maui as well.
You could easily spend a whole day at the Head Crater, exploring the nooks and crannies of this singularly beautiful place. But it also serves as an excellent starting point for a tour of the region’s other scenic lookouts.
2) Halona Blowhole Lookout
The volcanic activity that created the Hawaiian islands makes itself evident in attractions such as this one. When the waves have built up sufficient pressure in the underwater caves, water explodes into the air, reaching astonishing heights. This is one scenic point you won’t want to miss.
After you’ve enjoyed the sights at Halona Blowhole Lookout, consider taking a side trip to Eternity Beach. The emerald-and-turquoise water, the jagged volcanic rock, and the lush greenery combine to make this a can’t-miss destination.
It’s also home to a vibrant and thriving ecosystem that includes the endangered Hawaiian monk seal and the famed green sea turtle.
3) Hanauma Bay Lookout
The nature preserve draws numerous visitors to Hanauma Bay, but we would go there for the stunning view alone. There are a couple of wonderful hiking trails as well.
If you have time, stop by the excellent marine education center to learn more about the history of Hanauma Bay, as well as the steps that locals have taken to preserve its unique nature.
4) Nu’uanu Pali Lookout
The Pali lookout is convenient in that it’s located just a short drive from Honolulu, and yet it offers some of the best views in Oahu. Take in the rolling vistas of the windward side of the island from these pali, or cliffs, that rise to 1200 feet above sea level. Watch out for strong winds at the top!
5) Tantalus Lookout
This is one lookout in Oahu that offers amazing views of downtown Honolulu. From this tranquil hilltop, you’ll also be rewarded with glimpses of Diamond Head Crater – and, if you’re lucky enough to visit at the right time, perhaps a vibrant rainbow or a blazing sunset.
You can drive all the way to the top of Mount Tantalus, so there’s no hiking required, but there are some easy hiking trails nearby if you’re feeling energetic.
6) Lanai Lookout
The drive alone makes this lookout worth a drive from Honolulu or Waikiki. Along with the breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean, it includes several restaurants and breweries that you won’t want to miss:
The Original Roy’s in Hawaii Kai
Kona Brewing Company
Lanai Lookout isn’t one of the best-known lookouts in Oahu, but we think it’s a hidden gem. The slate-gray lava rock provides a lovely backdrop to the expanse of sky and the blue-green waves. Note that if you enter “Lanai Lookout” into your GPS, you’ll be directed to the right spot, but the signs leading you there will simply read “Scenic Point.”
Oahu Lookouts – East Shore
This section of the island, also known as “Windward Oahu,” offers visitors some of the best views in Oahu. Highlights include the magnificent Pacific Ocean, Rabbit Island, and the Ko’olau Mountains.
7) Makapu’u Point
Makapu’u Head can be found on the easternmost tip of Oahu’s shores. Backed by sea cliffs over 600 feet tall, this is one of the best lookouts in Oahu.
It’s also the place to go if you want to get a look at Manana Island, also known as “Rabbit Island” due to the fact that it was once the site of a rabbit-raising farm.
The Makapu’u Lookout is located along the Kalanianaole Highway. Even if you don’t plan to stop – and we highly recommend that you do – this drive should definitely be on your bucket list.
8) Kailua Beach Park
If all this scenic beauty makes you crave a stop at a sandy beach, pay a visit to Kailua Beach. Glorious for sunbathing and swimming, even better for water sports like windsurfing and kayaking, this park offers all the quintessential pleasures of a Hawaiian vacation.
9) Haiku Stairs
Also known as the “Haiku Ladder” or the “Stairway to Heaven,” the Haiku Stairs are not for the faint of heart. Those who have made it all the way to the top have been awed by the unparalleled views of the Ko’olau Mountain Range.
While this used to be a fairly popular hiking trail, the stairs were closed to the public in 2021. Some bold souls do still attempt the hike, but there’s a strong police presence in the area and there may even be law enforcement waiting at the top.
That said, parts of the trail may still be accessible when you visit – ask a local before you venture out.
Oahu Lookouts – North Shore
On this part of the island, you might spot whales in addition to surfers – and, of course, the awe-inspiring expanse of the glorious Pacific.
10) Laie Point
Whether you’re making a round trip to the entire island or just a day trip to the North Shore, consider adding Laie Point to your itinerary.
When you arrive, you might find that the stunning view seems familiar, even if you’ve never been to Oahu before. That’s because this peninsula, crowned with various rock formations, was featured in the 2008 comedy Forgetting Sarah Marshall. In the film, the characters hiked to the point, but fear not – you won’t have to get out of your car if you don’t want to.
11) Pu’u O Mahuka Heiau State Historic Site
While the North Shore is notorious for luring surfers who crave double overhead, this scenic overlook is one of the most interesting lookout points on the island.
Pu’u O Mahuka is an elaborate temple that dates back to the 17th century. It may have been the site of human sacrifice in times of war, though there is insufficient evidence to support this. Visitors can nonetheless appreciate the breathtaking view of the shoreline, as well as the peace and quiet.
Travelers with a keen eye for beauty won’t have a hard time finding a lookout in Oahu. The hard part will be deciding how many of these unforgettable places you can pack into a single visit.
If you’d like to see several of the best lookouts in Oahu on a comprehensive tour, our Premium Oahu Circle Island Tour is the best choice!
Book with us to experience stunning Oahu lookouts for unforgettable moments!