Hawaii's geographical position is 20 degrees north of the equator and 155 degrees west of the prime meridian.
This allows brief but yet enthralling views of the setting sun.
Sometimes these views are complete with the famous green flash, a phenomenon not easily witnessed.
So where can you go to see the best Hawaii sunsets? Here are a few things to know that will help you.
Timing Is Everything Twilight is extremely brief in Hawaii.
If you want to experience a Hawaii sunset best, you need to research the exact time the sun will set during your vacation stay.
Depending on the time of year, the sun generally sets sometime between 5:45pm and 7:30pm.
Therefore, when you see the sun hovering just above the horizon expect it to disappear within a half an hour.
After the sun finally sets, only about 15 minutes of daylight will remain.
What Is The Green Flash? Just as the sun disappears below the horizon you may see a sudden flash of emerald green and blue light at the upper rim of the sun.
This is the famed green flash.
This rare sight is the same phenomenon that produces rainbows.
The flash is caused by the entering and then exiting of sunlight into and out of a raindrop after the earth's atmosphere disperses (or bends and breaks) the sunlight into different colors.
The color green is bent the most.
This causes the intense flash at sunset's final breath.
However, don't be fooled by what's been called the "Fool's Flash.
" This is just a green image that remains on your retina after looking at the sun.
Finally, you should know that the green flash is not unique to a Hawaii sunset.
It can also be seen at the first peek of sunrise as well.
The green flash is best sighted on a completely clear ocean horizon.
However, BE CAREFUL! Looking at the sun directly can damage your eyes.
Only look at the sun while it is at its very lowest point on the horizon.
While I believe that I have seen a Hawaii sunset green flash several times, I cannot prove it.
Green flashes are really rare.
Getting a picture of one is almost impossible.
After all, they do happen in a flash.
Planning Your Hawaii Sunset View You can enhance the thrill of watching a Hawaii sunset by choosing an exciting and exotic viewing place.
To see it from the water, rent a paddleboard, canoe, or kayak for that critical half hour before the sun goes down.
You can also arrange an affordable catamaran cocktail cruise (priced between $25-$50) or a dinner yacht cruise (priced between $80 - $125).
From land, you can plan a Hawaii sunset dinner at one of many oceanfront restaurants.
For an even more extravagant experience, enjoy your Hawaii sunset from the air on a helicopter flight (priced between $150-$250 depending on the duration).
Choosing Your Hawaii Sunset Location While you are guaranteed a nice Hawaii sunset almost everywhere you are in Hawaii, the leeward (or west) sides of the islands provide the best Hawaii sunset views.
With fortuitous planning you may get lucky and capture some other magnificent sights as well.
These may include humpback whales or even an endangered Hawaiian monk seal.
The following are some of the most popular Hawaii sunset viewing locations.
Oahu o Honolulu Honolulu Yacht Harbor Watch a Hawaii sunset from the pier near Honolulu yacht harbor on the south side of the island.
There is free access to the pier.
Ala Moana Beach Park This is a great location between Waikiki and downtown Honolulu.
You can spend your day on the expansive gold-sand beach, and swim or surf until sunset.
It has free parking, food concessions, bathrooms, and showers.
Waikiki Beach This iconic beach is on the south side of the island.
It has a great view of the west sky.
So it is a perfect place to watch a Hawaii sunset.
Magic Island Beach Park Magic Park is not really on an island.
It's on a man-made peninsula on the east end of Ala Moana Beach Park, adjacent to Ala Wai Yacht Harbor.
In addition to being a nice place to watch a Hawaii sunset, there is an unobstructed view of Diamondhead as well.
It has free parking and bathrooms.
West Shore There are several good locations on the west coast to view a Hawaii sunset.
These won't be as flashy as Waikiki.
However, they do have free parking and restrooms.
They will also provide a local flavor that most tourists fail to experience.
o Travel north up route 93 and stop at anyone of these: Ko Olina Lagoons, Nanakuli Beach Park, Maili Beach Park, Pokai Bay Beach Park (in Waianae), The Waianae Boat Harbor, Makaha Beach Park, and finally, Yokohama Beach Park.
You can continue on to Ka'ena Point.
It is the western-most point on the island.
Drive until the road ends.
Then hike the roughly 5-mile trail roundtrip.
As a bonus, Ka'ena Point hikers may get to see a rare glimpse of monk seals, or humpback whales in the winter season.
North Shore o Ka'ena Point State Park, Waialua If you are on the north side of the island, you can also get to Ka'ena Point.
There are two paths you can take.
From the parking lot at Mokuleia you can walk 2 miles to the southern trailhead.
Then hike 3 miles to the point.
If you take the rougher northern path, you can drive a 4x4 SUV.
However, the view of the coast is not as good.
o Sunset Beach Park Expressly by name, another great place to spend the day is Sunset Beach Park.
It's a long stretch of beach on the north shore of the island.
It has free parking and basic beach facilities.
Maui If you're on Maui, there are several Hawaii sunset viewing spots.
You are sure to find one near your accommodation.
o Haleakala The Summit at Haleakala is famous for its Hawaii sunset views.
Sunset tours are available.
The best viewing time is usually around 5:45pm.
o South Maui The best Hawaii sunset viewing spots in South Maui are in the coastal towns of Kihei, Wailea, or Makena.
o Upcountry In upcountry Maui, the best locations are Kula, Makawao, Pukalani, Ulupalakua, Keokea, Kaiku, or Paia.
Kauai o Spouting Horn Park Watching sunsets from the Spouting Horn Blowhole at the south shore of Kauai provides the extra mystique of mist from the blowhole.
There is a particularly luminous view at sunset.
o Poipu The Sheraton in Poipu is another excellent viewing spot on the south shore of Kauai.
You can also book a Hawaii sunset dinner at the Beach House in Poipu, just northwest of the Sheraton.
o Hanalei During summer and fall, Hanalei Pier at Hanalei Bay is a popular North Shore spot for Hawaii sunset views.
o Princeville On the north side of Kauai, great sunsets occur behind the mountains to the west and south.
o Polihale Beach State Park You can see some spectacular Hawaii sunsets from this beach on Kauai's northwest side.
The road to this remote beach is potholed and rugged.
A 4W-drive vehicle is recommended.
There are restrooms and parking.
o Salt Pond Beach Park in Hanapepe On Kauai's south side, this beach's western view is a local favorite for Hawaii sunsets.
The Big Island o Kailua-Kona Coast (west side of the island) • Anaehoomalu Bay, sometimes called A-Bay is a white beach with palm trees and black rocks.
It is best known for its Hawaii sunsets.
It's easily accessible and has free parking.
• Puuhonau o Honaunau National Historic Park is a quiet and peaceful place.
Among other things to do, you can take a 2-mile roundtrip hike that returns via the picnic area from where you can watch the sunset.
• ULU Ocean Grill & Sushi Lounge is at the Four Seasons, Haualalai.
The beachside dining provides stunning Hawaii sunset views.
• Summit of Mauna Kea Mountain is claimed by some to have the most dramatic Hawaii sunsets.
There are organized tours available at the summit.
The tour includes a dinner just prior to sunset.
A 4-wheel drive vehicle is highly recommended to scale the last few miles to the summit and for braking coming back down.
Temperatures get very cold.
Warning: if you cannot make it to the summit, don't go for the sunset.
Sunset is not visible from any other spot on the mountain.
o If you are on the windward (east side) of The Big Island, don't expect to see sunset views.
Sunsets are obscured by the island's two volcanoes.
In Closing You can see wonderful Hawaii sunsets almost anywhere you are in Hawaii.
Still, the most memorable ones are going to be seen from the islands' west sides.
Whether you dine oceanfront, take an evening cruise, or venture close to the sky, you owe it to yourself not to miss the best of the best sunsets in the world.