Nuʻuanu Pali Lookout – Things to Know Before You Go!

View from the Nuuanu Pali Lookout with some clouds and plenty off lush green hills

Wind stole your favorite baseball cap? Check!

Arms covered in nasty bug bites? Check!

Photos depict mostly fog? Cheeeck!

…But visiting the Nu’uanu Pali Lookout doesn’t have to be this way. Here is what you should know to make your trip to this stunning viewpoint a highlight of your holiday!

Nu’uanu Pali Lookout is a spot dedicated to mountain scenery amidst the numerous beach and sea viewpoints on the island of Oahu. It sits 1200 feet up the Ko’olau Range, featuring a scenic lookout with three primary parts: lush green mountains, serried dwellings, and a bluish coastline. 

There are two viewpoints. 

The lower level usually has fewer visitors. You can go there to avoid the crowds on the upper level, especially during weekends and holidays. In addition, there are informational signs on the upper level of the viewpoints that highlight the history and points of interest you can see from the peak.

There are many notable spots that you can see from the lookout, including:

  • Kaneohe Bay
  • Ko’olau Mountains
  • Coconut Island
  • Honolulu Botanical Gardens
  • Hawai’i Pacific University Windward campus
  • Kaneohe Marine Corps Base

Amenities

  • Ample parking
  • Handicapped parking
  • Wheelchair access
  • Trash cans
  • No restrooms
  • No drinking water

Additional info

  • Wear proper shoes
  • Pets are not allowed
  • Alcoholic beverages are prohibited
  • No commercial activities are allowed, so you won’t find any souvenirs there
  • Beware of falling rocks
  • The lookout is known for its strong trade winds. We recommend not wearing a skirt, as the wind is strong enough to blow your skirt up! It will surely give you a new hair-do by the time you leave. Make sure to keep a firm grip on your belongings. Avoid bringing hats and other loose items that could fly away easily.
  • Bring bug spray as stinging camouflaged bugs roam the area
  • Check out these some marvelous hiking trails nearby:
    • Pali Puka
    • Likeke Falls
    • Pali Notches
    • Old Pali Road Hike

Getting there

Nu’uanu Pali Lookout is located just a 5-mile drive northeast of downtown Honolulu. Follow the large green sign on Pali Highway and exit through Nu’uanu Pali drive. It should take less than a minute to get to the parking lot. The drive is panoramic and quiet, through tall trees and dense forests.

The parking costs $7 per vehicle for non-residents and is free for locals. The viewpoint is only a couple of hundred feet uphill from the parking lot. It is open every day from 6 am to 6 pm. Go early in the morning for the best view before the clouds and fog roll in. You will also have the view for yourself!

The lookout is so popular, it has even been recorded on Google Street View:

The meaning of Nu’uanu Pali

Nu’uanu Pali Lookout is a historical site. The name ”Pali” means “cliff” in Hawaiian, while “Nuuanu” is an area on the southeastern part of the island. You will see how aptly named it is when you reach the edge!

Its dark history

The lookout was once the site of what might be the bloodiest battle in Hawaiian History. Following King Kamehameha I’s quest to conquer the Hawaiian Islands in 1795, he told Chief Kalanikupule’s men to ascend the Nu’uanu cliff, then trapped them and forced them off the cliffs to their deaths. This place has become the witness to King Kamehameha’s gruesome victory.

Over 100 years later, hundreds of human skulls were discovered at the base of the mountain, which we can suspect are the remains of Chief Kalanikupule’s men.

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