Sunsets in Hawaii are community events, where plans for the beach, BBQ, or stroll are purposefully structured around catching the fiery light show that happens each night.
Much like weather is a small talk staple between strangers, so too will people in Hawaii ask if you saw last night’s sunset. It’s a unifying, awe-inspiring, and calming evening event, and the following are some of the best places to watch the sunset on Lanai.
Puu Pehe Overlook
Often referred to as “Sweetheart Rock,” Puu Pehe is an 80-ft. sea stack set just off the cliffs at Manele. From the island’s most popular beach, Hulopoe, a dirt trail leads around the point and finishes atop a coastal cliff that overlooks Puu Pehe. From here the view looks directly south at Maui and Kahoolawe, and on the clearest of days you can sometimes see Hawaii island in the distance.
Road to Kaumalapau Harbor
Known to locals as “Barge Harbor,” Kaumalapau is the industrial harbor on Lanai’s southwestern coast. Popular with fisherman who cast from the rocks, the harbor is also one of the best places to watch the sunset on Lanai. Rather than watching from the harbor, however, pull off to the side of Kaumalapau Highway about a mile before the harbor, where the road is set on an elevated bluff with sweeping views of the coast.
Keahiakawelo (“Garden of the Gods”)
Famous for its parched, almost Martian landscape, Keahiakawelo seems to literally glow red in the hour just before sunset. As the oranges, yellows, and reds of dusk illuminate the rocky plain, what was once a seemingly lifeless landscape now bursts with colors. It’s a unique vantage for viewing the sunset on a tropical Hawaiian island, where instead of the ocean, palm trees, and sand, it’s a rolling red plain of boulders and dust that create such a magical moment.
Finally, while getting there is no easy feat, watching the sunset from Kaunolu is an historically powerful—and visually stunning—way to finish the day. Here at this National Historic Landmark, King Kamehameha would frequently spend time just resting, relaxing, and fishing, and an entire village with canoe houses and heiau were scattered along the cliff. Today the area is little changed from the early 19th century, and it feels as if time has suddenly stopped, where the only thing moving is the sun slowly dipping behind the western horizon. 4WD is required to reach Kaunolu, and if you choose to visit be sure to leave before it’s completely dark.