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Monday, July 16, 2012

Getting to Know Hawaii: Sunrise at Lanikai Beach

The Need to Knows:
  • Lanikai Beach is located in Kailua, HI on the windward side of Oahu.  Beach access is in the neighborhood of Lanikai, just past Kailua Beach Park.  There is no designated parking area; you basically just have to park on the side of the road near one of the beach passageways.  Please be respectful of the neighborhood residents and do not park in their yards and driveways!  I'd recommend parking along Mokulua Drive at Kaiolena Dr, Haokea Dr, or Kuailimi Dr.  Check out this Google Maps link for more info:

View Larger Map
  • If you are attempting to catch the sunrise, be sure to research beforehand just what time the sun rises on the day you want to go.  Plan to get to Lanikai at least thirty minutes before that time in order to fully experience the beauty of the sunrise.  We often wake up between 4 and 5 (depending on the time of the year) in order to make it on time; from our home near the airport, it normally takes about a 20-25 minute drive taking the H-3, depending on how fast we want to drive on the freeway =)
  • Lanikai Beach is dog-friendly, so if your pup is on island with you, take him (and his leash!) with you!
  • As with all Hawaiian beaches,  the beach is open to the public and yours to explore, as long as you don't trespass on private property and only use the designated beach access passageways.  There is also obviously no charge to visit Lanikai.  Spend the day here snorkeling, kayaking out to the Mokulua Islands, swimming, or just lying on the beach and getting some sun!
Lanikai Beach is one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, with National Geographic ranking it at #5 of its Top Ten Beaches list, and describing it as so:

 "Half a mile of sparkling sand, palm trees swaying over a white beach, lush tropical plants, and endless sunshine make Lanikai one of Hawaii’s most scenic beaches. The shore is protected by a nearby coral reef, which keeps the surf relatively calm. The water is always deep green and postcard-perfect." 
- National Geographic's Top Ten Beaches

The crystal-clear blue-green waters, powdery-fine white sandy beach, and breathtaking view of the Mokulua Mountains are among the many assets that make Lanikai so stunning.

Mr. L and I have been lucky enough to watch this beautiful sunrise three times so far -- once with our friend Joe, once on Easter morning, and once with our friends Shawn and Tayvia.  It's been gorgeous each time, and it's something that we hope to bring all of our family and friends to soak it all in when they visit!

I love how different the skies, water, and sunlight look each time we go; every time is unique unto itself, which is pretty fascinating.  Sharing this experience at Lanikai has become a very special activity for Mr. L and I, so we will for sure be going many more times before we're forced to part ways with this beautiful island.

If you're feeling extra adventurous, there is a hike nearby called the Lanikai Pillboxes Hike.  You climb up the hills behind Lanikai Beach (in the complete dark, so bring a flashlight!) and check out the amazing panoramic views of the sunrise, the Mokulua Islands, Lanikai Beach, Bellows Beach, Kailua Beach, MCBH (Marine Corps Base Hawaii) and beyond.  Mr. L and I have yet to do this hike, but it is definitely on our Hawaii Bucket List!  If you'd like more information, check out the Yelp link here.  My favorite picture a user uploaded to Yelp is this one (albeit taken during the daytime instead of at sunrise):

Um, hello, is that water GORGEOUS or what?!
Where's your favorite place to watch a sunrise or sunset?


  1. This might be one of those thing I'll have to experience without the kids or husband, I don't think they would appreciate it! Still haven't gotten over to the windward side of the island yet!

    1. Don't worry, you'll have plenty of time! It's SO pretty over there! =)

  2. Did you have to take a flash light with you in order to find the beach? Since we will have never been there just wandering if it will be easy enough to find in the dark?

    1. Hi Crystal! There are streetlights along the roads in the Lanikai neighborhood, so as long as you're able to find one of the designated beach passageways you shouldn't need a flashlight! :)



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