Scenic Routes: Best Views and Photo Spots in Honolulu Hawaii & Video

Scenic Routes: Best Views and Photo Spots in Honolulu Hawaii

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Scenic Routes: Best Views and Photo Spots in Honolulu Hawaii

When it comes to breathtaking scenery and picturesque landscapes, Honolulu, Hawaii offers an abundance of natural beauty. From stunning coastal views to lush mountain landscapes, this tropical paradise is a photographer’s dream. In this article, we will explore the best scenic routes and photo spots in Honolulu, providing you with detailed information about each location and highlighting the unique features that make them worth visiting.

Diamond Head State Monument

Located on the southeastern coast of Oahu, Diamond Head State Monument is a must-visit destination for panoramic views of Honolulu. This iconic volcanic crater offers a challenging hike to its summit, rewarding visitors with breathtaking vistas of the city skyline, Waikiki Beach, and the Pacific Ocean. The trail is approximately 1.6 miles round trip, featuring steep inclines and a series of stairs. Don’t forget to bring your camera to capture the stunning vistas along the way.

  • Views: Spectacular panoramic views of Honolulu, Waikiki Beach, and the Pacific Ocean.
  • Photo Opportunities: Capture the sunrise or sunset from the summit, showcasing vibrant colors against the city skyline.
  • Hiking Tips: Wear comfortable shoes, bring water, and start early to avoid crowds and the midday heat.

Manoa Falls Trail

Nestled in the lush Manoa Valley, the Manoa Falls Trail is a picturesque hike that leads to a stunning 150-foot waterfall. This scenic route takes you through a tropical rainforest, immersing you in the natural beauty of Hawaii. The trail is approximately 1.6 miles round trip and can be muddy, so wearing appropriate footwear is recommended. Along the way, you’ll encounter bamboo groves, native plants, and the soothing sound of the waterfall cascading into a tranquil pool.

  • Views: Serene rainforest scenery and a majestic waterfall.
  • Photo Opportunities: Capture the lush greenery, vibrant flowers, and the impressive Manoa Falls.
  • Hiking Tips: Bring insect repellent, as mosquitoes can be prevalent in the rainforest. Stay on the designated trail to preserve the delicate ecosystem.

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Tantalus Lookout

For a panoramic view of Honolulu and its surroundings, head to Tantalus Lookout. Located at the top of Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park, this lookout offers stunning vistas of the city, Diamond Head, and the lush Manoa Valley. Drive along the winding Tantalus Drive to reach the lookout point, where you can park and enjoy the breathtaking scenery. Sunset is a particularly popular time to visit, as the golden hues cast a magical glow over the city.

  • Views: Sweeping views of Honolulu, Diamond Head, and the Manoa Valley.
  • Photo Opportunities: Capture the cityscape against the backdrop of lush mountains and dramatic skies.
  • Tips: Bring a jacket or sweater, as it can get cooler at the higher elevation. Consider visiting during weekdays to avoid crowds.

Hanauma Bay Lookout

Hanauma Bay is a world-renowned snorkeling destination, but even if you’re not planning to take a dip, the lookout point offers breathtaking views that are worth a visit. Located on the southeastern coast of Oahu, Hanauma Bay Lookout provides a panoramic vista of the turquoise waters, coral reef, and surrounding cliffs. The lookout is easily accessible by car, and there is a small parking fee. Take your time to soak in the beauty of this marine sanctuary from above.

  • Views: Stunning views of Hanauma Bay, its pristine waters, and the vibrant coral reef.
  • Photo Opportunities: Capture the contrasting colors of the turquoise bay, the lush greenery, and the rugged coastline.
  • Tips: Visit early in the morning to avoid crowds and secure a parking spot. Respect the rules and regulations of the marine sanctuary.

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Lanikai Pillboxes Trail

For a scenic hike with panoramic views of the turquoise waters and offshore islands, the Lanikai Pillboxes Trail is a must-visit. The trailhead is located in a residential area, and the moderate hike takes you to the ruins of old military bunkers, known as pillboxes. From the top, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of Lanikai Beach, the Mokulua Islands, and the surrounding coastline. This trail is especially popular during sunrise, offering a picturesque start to the day.

  • Views: Breathtaking views of Lanikai Beach, the Mokulua Islands, and the sparkling ocean.
  • Photo Opportunities: Capture the vivid colors of the sunrise or the vibrant blues of the ocean against the white sandy beach.
  • Hiking Tips: Wear sturdy shoes, as the trail can be rocky. Be respectful of the residential area and park in designated areas.

Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park

Pu’u Ualaka’a State Park, also known as Round Top, offers sweeping views of Honolulu and the southern coastline of Oahu. The park is located in the extinct volcanic crater of Tantalus, providing a unique vantage point of the city. Drive up to the park and find a spot to enjoy the scenic overlooks and picnic areas. The lush greenery, colorful flowers, and panoramic views make it a perfect spot for photography enthusiasts.

  • Views: Panoramic views of Honolulu, the southern coastline, and the surrounding lush landscape.
  • Photo Opportunities: Capture the city skyline, the vibrant flora, and the contrast between urban development and natural beauty.
  • Tips: Bring a picnic and enjoy the serene surroundings. Stay on designated paths and respect the park’s rules.

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Koko Crater Railway Trail

Adventure seekers and fitness enthusiasts will enjoy the Koko Crater Railway Trail, also known as the “Stairway to Heaven.” This challenging hike consists of approximately 1,048 steps leading to the summit of Koko Crater. Along the way, you’ll be rewarded with panoramic views of the southeastern coast of Oahu, including Hanauma Bay and the surrounding mountains. The unique perspective from the top makes it a favorite spot for photographers.

  • Views: Sweeping views of the southeastern coast, Hanauma Bay, and the surrounding mountains.
  • Photo Opportunities: Capture the dramatic landscape, the winding railway tracks, and the stunning coastal scenery.
  • Hiking Tips: This hike is considered strenuous, so come prepared with water, proper footwear, and sunscreen. Check for trail conditions before attempting the hike.

Pu’u Ohia Trail

For a unique hiking experience in the heart of Honolulu, the Pu’u Ohia Trail offers a tranquil escape from the bustling city. Located in the Honolulu Watershed Forest Reserve, this trail takes you through a lush forest of native trees, providing a serene setting for nature enthusiasts. Along the way, you’ll encounter diverse plant species, peaceful streams, and the soothing sounds of birdsong. The trail is relatively easy and suitable for all skill levels.

  • Views: Peaceful forest scenery, native trees, and scenic streams.
  • Photo Opportunities: Capture the vibrant greenery, unique flora, and the tranquil ambiance of the forest.
  • Tips: Bring insect repellent and wear comfortable shoes. Respect the natural environment and stay on the designated trail.

Tantalus-Arboretum Loop

For a leisurely drive with stunning views, the Tantalus-Arboretum Loop is a scenic route that takes you through the Tantalus Drive and the Lyon Arboretum. As you wind your way through the lush mountains, you’ll be treated to panoramic vistas of Honolulu, Diamond Head, and the surrounding valleys. The Lyon Arboretum, located along the route, offers a peaceful oasis with a diverse collection of tropical plants and flowers. Take your time to explore and capture the beauty of this scenic drive.

  • Views: Panoramic views of Honolulu, Diamond Head, and the lush valleys.
  • Photo Opportunities: Capture the scenic drive, the vibrant flora of the arboretum, and the stunning vistas along the way.
  • Tips: Drive carefully and be mindful of other vehicles. Take breaks at designated viewpoints to fully appreciate the scenery.

Kawainui Marsh Trail

For nature lovers and birdwatchers, the Kawainui Marsh Trail offers a unique opportunity to explore one of the largest wetlands in Hawaii. This easy, paved trail takes you through the Kawainui Marsh, home to a diverse array of bird species and native plants. As you stroll along the trail, you’ll be surrounded by the beauty of the wetland ecosystem, with the majestic Ko’olau Mountains in the background. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars and camera to capture the birdlife and scenic landscapes.

  • Views: Picturesque wetland scenery, birdlife, and the Ko’olau Mountains.
  • Photo Opportunities: Capture the unique wetland ecosystem, the colorful bird species, and the stunning mountain backdrop.
  • Tips: Bring binoculars for birdwatching. Stay on the paved trail and respect the sensitive marsh ecosystem.


Honolulu, Hawaii offers an abundance of scenic routes and photo spots that showcase the natural beauty of the island. From panoramic city views to lush rainforests and tranquil beaches, there is something for every photography enthusiast. Whether you’re a hiker, a nature lover, or simply seeking breathtaking vistas, these locations provide the perfect backdrop for capturing unforgettable memories. So grab your camera, explore these scenic routes, and immerse yourself in the stunning landscapes that Honolulu has to offer.