The sunrise on the big island is one of those things that you have to experience in person.
But where do you go? With so many great options, this can be a tough decision — which is why I’m here to help!
We’ve done all the work for you! Here’s a list of our favorite spots for watching the sunrise on the big island. Find your favorites and enjoy!
Our top choices: Pololu Valley, Hawaii Volcanoes National Park, Liliuokalani Gardens, Waipio Valley, Hilo Bay, Mauna Loa, and Mauna Kea.
Before we get started let’s answer some FAQs:
Where to watch the sunrise in Kona
You will have better chances to witness the best sunrises on the Hilo side than on the Kona side.
Now that we have answered some FAQs, lets talk about the best places to watch the sunrise on the Big Island
1. Pololu Valley Lookout
Pololu Valley is by far one of my favorite spots to watch the sunrise on the Big Island. Located on the Kohala Coast, this valley is one of the most beautiful places on the island.
Pololu Valley has multiple small outlooks to stop and snap a few photos before making it down to Pololu Beach.
After watching the sunrise from the lookout, you can hike the rest of the way down. Once you get down, you will be greeted by one of the best black sand beaches in Hawaii!
The hike down is less than a mile; however, it’s a bit steep coming up and can be slippery in certain sections.
I highly recommend hiking down to the beach. Remember to bring good hiking shoes and lots of water to stay hydrated.
2. Hawaii Volcanoes National Park near Halemaumau Crater
For the more adventurous travelers that love volcanoes, this one is for you! This viewpoint is along Crater Rim Drive and is located right by Halemaumau Crater. Here you will get amazing views of Kilauea Caldera (volcano mouth) and Halemaumau Crater.
There used to be glow from the lava which made for one of the most mystical sunrises, but as of late the lava is no longer visible and has hardened over. With that said, this spot is still a fantastic and unique experience. If it’s not too cloudy, you’ll also have views of Mauna Loa on the other side.
The sunrise at Hawaii Volcanoes national park is worth waking up early and is truly one of the best.
This also means that you’ll be at the park before almost anyone else, so plan accordingly to take advantage of these other activities before the crowd shows up in a few hours: Thurston Lava Tube, multiple crater sites, and all of the hiking trails, to name a few.
3. Liliuokalani Gardens
Liliuokalani Gardens is a Japanese-style garden located in Hilo. It’s located right on Banyan Drive and along Wailuku River. The view of the sunrise is breathtaking and overlooks the bay.
I, unfortunately, did not make it on time to watch the sunrise, but I am determined to go back one day. Here is a photo of what the gardens look like after sunrise:
4. Waipio Valley Sunrise
Located along the Kohala Coast you will find Waipio Valley. This is another one of my favorite spots for watching the sunrise on Hawaii’s big island.
The views at the overlook are spectacular and out of this world. You would have to go there yourself and experience this amazing sunrise to understand what I mean.
After watching the sunrise from the overlook, you can hike down to Waipio Valley. The trail starts as a paved walkway but quickly turns into a narrow cliffside path.
Waipio Valley is high on my list for the best hikes and best places to watch the sunrise.
5. Hilo Bay Sunrise
We met a local while visiting the island of Hawaii and he told us that the best place to watch the sunrise is anywhere on Hilo Bay — and he was absolutely correct.
Hilo Bay has some of the best sunrises that are definitely worth waking up early for.
6. Mauna Loa Sunrise
Mauna Loa is a 13,678′ volcano that overlooks the island of Hawaii and has some breathtaking views from the summit.
Getting there can be tricky. For the highly adventurous, you can hike to the top of Mauna Loa to watch the sunrise over Hilo bay. However, be prepared to camp out. To do this hike you must be an experienced hiker and have all the gear/supplies necessary, as the Mauna Loa Summit Trail is 19.5 miles long!
Your other option is to drive 17 miles on Saddle Road to the Mauna Loa Observatory, where you’ll hike 6 miles one way to reach the summit.
7. Mauna Kea Summit Trail
At 13,796 feet above sea level, the Mauna Kea Summit is an absolute must for Big Island sunrise.
The summit is one of the best spots to see the sunrise, but you must be prepared for an early morning wake up call. You’ll want to pack enough layers and snacks or a picnic breakfast, as it’s cooler at the top.
To Wrap It Up
As you can see, The Big Island of Hawaii has many options for watching the sunrise. The views are breathtaking and very diverse depending on where you watch the sunrise.
Thank you for reading this blog post, and I hope it has inspired you to visit the Big Island and see some of these beautiful sunrises for yourself!