A multi-hued sky as the sun sinks below the great blue ocean with soft white sand and drooping palm trees in the foreground — that is one of the quintessential images of Hawaii. An image you’re apt to see on just about every postcard rack and on many a tourist book cover. But what is it that makes Hawaiian sunsets like those offered in Kauai so special? Certainly, there is the emotional aspect of being somewhere with your loved ones on a vacation that heightens the appeal. Yet, did you know that there is also a scientific reason why Hawaiian sunsets are so beautiful?
Kauai sunsets (and sunrises) are more likely to boast a broader burst of colors and hues thanks to the archipelago’s unique mix of geography and geology. The positioning of the Hawaiian islands away from other landmasses means nothing else disturbs the atmosphere as the sun breaks below the horizon line, and its location on the globe means extra humidity to intensify colors. The geological benefit comes from Kilauea’s volcano that has continually erupted since 1983. Each eruption adds volcanic dust and smog into the atmosphere and that volcanic dust helps in scattering the sun’s rays to further intensify sunsets.
In other words, there really is something special about Kauai sunsets! And no matter where you go on the island, if you can look into the sky, you’re likely to appreciate a stunning cornucopia of colors when the sun sinks below the horizon. Of course, some places are better than others, offering viewers a clearer or more epic view of this daily occurrence. The following is a look at some of those best places to watch the sunset in Kauai:
5 Best Places to Watch the Sunset in Kauai
Polihale State Park
Located at the end of Highway 50, Polihale State Park boasts 17 miles of brilliant white sandy beaches. Walk the entirety of their length, and you’ll walk into the start of Na Pali Coast’s dramatic sea cliffs. Polihale State Park is ideal for sunsets thanks foremost for it being so far away from commercial locations. Light pollution is very minimal here and so when the sun’s final rays fade to black, the stars pop out in a breathtaking abundance.
Poipu Beach Park
Located in South Kauai, Poipu Beach Park is a great spot for swimming and Kauai sunset viewing — the latter, particularly during the winter seasons. This small beach is shaped as a large crescent with beautiful blue waters at its core and on its outskirts, a guard of frilly palm trees and other native plants. These trees combined with the beach’s black rocks offer a nice foreground and environment in which to view the setting sun. Sometimes, turtles will even pop up as they often use this area as their nightly sanctuary.
Not all the best locations for sunset viewing are on the beach. Kalalau Lookout offers visitors an amazing viewpoint high above Kauai. Standing here, you can look out across the beauty of the Na Pali Coast and the rolling valleys and tropical canopies at all hours. But while daytime views here are outstanding, sunset views are truly spectacular. Visitors here will enjoy watching not only how the dusk’s oranges and yellows and other shades shine off the water, but also how they reflect upon the emerald forests and red and brown sea cliffs.
St. Regis Princeville
If you don’t like celebrating sunsets alone, then you’ll love the party that happens every night at St. Regis Princeville Resort when the sun goes down. At the start of that golden hour, a hotel staffer sabers open a champagne bottle (this sabering is something they are quite famous for) to start off celebrations at the resort’s terrace overlooking Hanalei Bay. Guests are then invited to take in a drink as all atop the terrace enjoy cocktails while soaking in a sunset unimpeded by building or landmass.
During the summer months, the north shore of Kauai is the place to be for sunsets, and there is no more northernmost point than the Kilauea Lighthouse. This lighthouse is, in fact, the northernmost point in all the Hawaiian islands and serves as a critical beacon for ships traversing the Pacific Ocean. Today, the lighthouse is part of a larger federal park called the Kilauea Point National Wildlife Refuge, and this historic location now offers fantastic Kauai sunset viewing opportunities for the general public. Pick a spot, any spot, and enjoy epic Kauai sunset vistas that include the oceans, beaches, and sea cliffs. This refuge is also renowned for its wildlife, including frequent dolphin and rare bird sightings.
The Best Places, But No Bad Place to Watch a Sunset in Kauai
While this is a list of five of the very best places to watch a sunset in Kauai, keep in mind that there really is no bad place to watch one. No matter where you are in Kauai, when the hour strikes long, consider pulling the car over or taking a step outside your hotel or restaurant. Take a moment wherever you are to take in the beauty of Kauai and the colorful shimmering lights of the sun’s setting rays.