Oahu’s Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout offers panoramic views of the Ko‘olau Mountains. The windy perch, more than 1,000 feet (300 meters) above Oahu’s Windward (northeast) coastline, also overlooks Kaneohe, Kaneohe Bay, Kailua, and the island of Mokoli‘i. In the late 1700s, the viewpoint was the scene of a bloody battle won by King Kamehameha I.
Commonly referred to as the Pali Lookout, this scenic spot is one of Oahu’s most visited viewpoints. On a clear day, you can see a stunning picture of the island, with the blue Pacific Ocean lying beyond the green Ko‘olau Mountains. Visits to the Pali Lookout are included in most island tours including bus sightseeing tours, 4WD excursions, tours of notable movie filming locations, and various private tours.
Things to Know Before You Go
- The Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout is ideal for photo ops and for getting your bearings upon arriving on Oahu.
- There is a small fee to park at the lookout; bring cash.
- Known for its strong trade winds, the powerful gusts at the lookout are thrilling, but hold on to your hat and small children.
- There is a short walk to the viewpoint from the parking lot. A light jacket and walking shoes are recommended.
- The lookout is accessible to wheelchairs and strollers.
How to Get There
The Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout is located 5 miles (8 kilometers) from downtown Honolulu, above the Pali Highway. Parking is tight, with space for about 15 cars at a time; it is advised not to leave valuables in your car. Many Oahu tours include a stop here for photos and views.
When to Go
Weather on Oahu normally ranges between 68°F (20°C) and 88°F (31°C) year-round, with a moderate rainy season from December through February. Early mornings often see the sky covered in ocean mist and clouds, so aim for a sunny late-morning or afternoon visit for better chances of clear views.
Battle of Nu‘uanu
The Nu‘uanu Pali Lookout is a place of cultural and historical significance. Pali means cliff in Hawaiian, and what is now a viewpoint was once the sight of the Battle of Nu‘uanu. In 1795, King Kamehameha I won a violent struggle here, where many soldiers were pushed off the cliffs to their deaths, and Oahu—and the Kingdom of Hawai‘i—was ultimately united under his rule.