Pali Lookout: How to Visit This Oahu Gem
Hawaii’s natural beauty is legendary, and it’s the main reason why millions of people make the trip to Oahu each year. After you’ve luxuriated by the blue waters of Hanauma Bay, taken a horseback ride along the island’s north shore, and visited the Pearl Harbor memorial, you’ll want to find some of the hidden gems of the island. Among the best of these spots is the Pali Lookout Oahu located 10 minutes from downtown Honolulu. Here’s what you need to know to make your visit perfect.
The Stunning View
What the majority of people come to Pali Lookout for is the stunning panarama that the vantage point affords. Here, you can look out on southern Oahu and the Windward Coast. On a clear day, you can see a wide area that covers Mokolii Island to the Kaneohe Marine Corps Bay.
Located inside the Nuuanu Pali State Park, the Lookout is open daily from 9 AM to 4 PM. While at the Lookout, you’ll have the chance to stare down the 985 foot cliff face that makes up the Koolau Mountain Range.
Rich & Storied History
In addition to the stunning natural beauty, you might also visit the Pali Lookout if you’re interested in Hawaiian history. It was here that the brutal Battle of 1795 took place.
When King Kamehameha I, ruler of Hawai’i Island, decided to conquer the other nearby islands, he set his course to Oahu. When he and his warriors arrived on Waikiki Beach, the chief of Oahu and Maui, Kalanikupule, sprang into action to defend his land. The two armies met in Nuuanu Valley just below the modern day Lookout, and Kamehameha’s troops slowly but consistently defeated the Oahu warriors, killing hundreds of them in the process. Legend has it that not a single warrior from the island escaped the slaughter.
Just over 100 years later, engineers began building the Old Pali Highway that connected Oahu with the southern shore. During the process, they unearthed over 800 skulls and hundreds of bones, which were the long buried soldiers from the epic battle.
Although many people visit for the Lookout and then head elsewhere on Oahu, you should take the time to do some hiking in the area. Doing so will allow you to better explore the biological diversity of Nuuanu Pali State Park and will give you access to some incredible views that aren’t obvious from the main overlook.
To get to the trail, you’ll want to find the Road Closed sign near the Pali Lookout. This road is actually the old Pali Highway mentioned above. At one time, it was the only way to get from Oahu through the mountains to the Windward area of the island. The trail is largely overgrown, but you’ll still be able to make out the pavement of the original road.
Enjoy the peace and quiet of the natural surroundings, then pick up the Maunawili Trail near the end of the paved overgrown road. The Maunawili Trail is a beautiful and fairly easy loop trail that will take hikers by a small waterfall, tropical plants, and several native bird species. The trail is 3 miles roundtrip.
Helpful Hints For Visiting Pali Lookout
There is onsite parking for the Pali Lookout. Access to the Lookout via the Nuuanu Pali State Park is free.
Make sure that you prepare for the intense wind at the Pali Lookout. Beacuse of the placement of the overlook, severe gusts of winds are likely at any time. Some of the gusts are so strong that they will hold you up if you lean forward into them! Leave your hats and scarves in the car because they’re extremely likely to be blown off in the process. Secure your camera to you with a strap, and ensure a good grip on any selfie sticks or cameras. You don’t want your vacation memories taken away by the wind!
To get to Pali Lookout, take the eastbound H1 freeway from Waikiki, then turn onto Pali Highway (Route 61). The road to the Lookout through the Nuuanu Pali State Park is well marked.