At the end of a beautiful tropical day, as the clock strikes 5.45 pm, people stop to gaze over miles of glistening waters to watch the amber skylight of the gracefully setting sun. Some from beach chairs and towels, some while surfing, and others with their cameras gaping while the sky opens up into a kaleidoscope of myriad colors, bursting crimson and maroon hues. And this is the perfect way to end a perfect day on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Apart from the mai tais, fresh seafood, and laid-back surf culture, Hawaii is my favorite for its breathtaking sunsets. Here are my suggestions.
Sunset with Palm Silhouette at Kaloko-Honokohau
I always wanted to capture a photo of palm silhouettes illuminated by the dipping sun against an ocean backdrop. And here I was, a short walk away from Honokohau Harbor is this completely hidden gem. Sitting on the beach chair, watching turtles sleep on the sand with the smell of the ocean.
Stay beyond the sunset, listen to the waves hitting the volcanic rocks from a distance, and gaze at the starry sky.
Tip: Locals suggest having a fresh fish meal at Harbor House Restaurant. Wash it down with a cold beer on a warm tropical afternoon before you walk to Kaloko-Honokohau.
Sunset over the tidal pools at Wawaloli Beach
North of Kailua-Kona, the beach is known for its magnificent sunsets. White sand and rocky shoreline allow you to take a long hike before you find your sweet spot to camp those beach chairs and gaze at the sunsets over the tidal pools. If you have a fishing pole, join fishers standing along the cliffs for the catch of the day.
Tip: The rocks can be sharp and slippery; water shoes are recommended if you plan to walk the shores.
Sunset from the dreamy white sand Hapuna beach
Drive down the Kohala coast, and you’ll find yourself on this dreamy white sand beach. It’s a great place to let loose with your travel buds, sip some kombucha and watch the giant red sun dip below the ocean’s waves. Watching the last rays shine out over the Pacific while it dyes the horizon in beautiful hues is magical. The half-mile-long white sand beach is a favorite amongst surfers and snorkeling enthusiasts.
Tip: You do not want to miss the fluffy Hawaiian donut, malasadas. A 5-minute detour to Manuela Malasada is totally worth it. They serve the freshest and the best malasadas in Hawaii. Period! I loved the guava or lilikoi(passion fruit) filling with li-hing sugar. You could get dozen for $16. Add this to your list now!
Catch the sunset from the highest point on Big Island, Mauna Kea
Watch the sun dip in the serenely beautiful horizon on one side while the shadow of the majestic mountain stretches over the ocean of clouds on the other side. Amidst old volcanoes, futuristic telescopes, and snowy peaks at an elevation of 13,796 feet, this is one of the most spectacular sunsets that you’ll ever see. The drive from sea level to the submit is surreal; passing cinder cones on the way gives you a feeling of old- worldliness. Temperatures here might drop to a chilly 20 degrees during winter months; make sure to dress warmly.
Tip: The evening does not end with the sunset. There’s more heat, of course! Carry your telescope or plan your trip with one of the many Mouna Kea tour guides for the best stargazing experience. After sunset, we drove down to 9000 feet, where our tour guide set up his telescope while we enjoyed macadamia biscuits dipped in hot chocolate. The milky way is visible through the naked eye, forming a band across the sky. Mauna Kea is one of Earth’s best places to see some of the world’s clearest, darkest skies. At a distance, we could see the Kilauea volcano blaze( owing to the recent explosion in 2020)
Green Sand Beach
No trip to Big Island is complete without a TREK to the green sand beach. Trekking to the beach is not challenging, but the hot sun might make it one. Tote along sunscreen, water, towel, and some tropical fruits. Do not hitchhike with the cars that use the 4WD road to the beach since it’s illegal. Driving vehicles on these roads damage the landscape.
The three-mile trek through lava fields with an ocean view takes you to the green sand beach. You’ll need to climb down a dramatic cliff to get down to the beach. Comfortable hiking shoes are a must! The beach is blanketed with olivine crystals that eroded from an ancient volcanic formation.
Though the green crystals look striking during sunset, it’s suggested to leave the beach before it gets dark due to uneven terrain. Plan to hike backward just around sunset to enjoy the picturesque view of the sun dipping over the Pacific silhouetted through swinging pampas in the wind.