by Justin

Pali Look-Out is located on the east side of O‘ahu and is only 25 minutes away from Waikiki. Pali Look-Out is visited by many tourists, due to the ease of access. People often stop here on their way from the town area over to the east side of Kailua and Kanohe. The Pali Lookout has amazing views of the windward side, from Kualoa to Kailua. You will be able to see from the mountain all the way to the ocean.

The Look-Out

The Pali-Lookout will give you an excellent vantage point of the windward side. You will be able to see residential areas, the Pali Highway, a golf course and much more. Thousands of people take a snapshot of this view each year, so in order to make your photograph stand out, I have outlined a few tips. First, do your best to include foreground in your photograph. This will help to tie the viewer's eye to your photograph. Foreground should be something that is in the 5' to 25' range from your camera. Foreground will also create additional depth to your photograph, that your viewer can explore.

One common mistake is to try to include the entire view into your shot without choosing a subject. While the view is amazing and I can understand wanting to include the entire view into the photograph, often times this does not result in a powerful photograph. Try to find an interesting subject, something that will capture the viewer's attention at an instant. The subject in many of the photographs shown on this page is the sunrise. The sunrise provides a powerful subject and additional color and drama to the photograph.

Always remember to use your tripod and set your f-stop high (f-11 to f-14). This will help to ensure a razor sharp photograph and as much detail as possible in your photograph. Use your best wide angle lens for better depth of field. You may need to weigh down your tripod, in order to keep your camera still through the gusts of wind.

Pali Puka Hike

The Pali Puka hike takes you along the ridge west of the Pali Lookout. If you want a new perspective of this famous look-out that doesn't take too much time, then this is the hike for you. The hike lasts about an hour round trip. The hike can be scary at times due to the sheer drop offs and very windy conditions. I would suggest not doing this hike, if you are afraid of height or not confident in your hiking abilities.

Along the hike, you will be given beautiful and unobstructed views of the windward coast. You will also have the opportunity to use the ridge line as a leading line in your photograph. At some points you will also be able to photograph the Pali-Lookout from above. Finally, at the end of the hike you will get to the Pali Puka or Pali Hole. This natural hole is an excellent subect for photographers, because it naturally frames your photograph of the view.

Best Time to Shoot

The best time to shoot is first thing in the morning. It is recommended that you get to the spot around 8 AM to avoid any crowds at the look-out, especially on the weekend. Hundreds of people come to the Pali Lookout each week and you don't want to get stuck in the crowd.

Local Tips

The Pali Lookout parking lot is often full, so it is best to get here early. If you do get here later, a spot should free up momentarily since many people only stay here for 15 minutes or less. Parking cost $3 for non-residents and is free for residents, just show your Hawai‘i Driver's license or State ID.

How do I get there?

Parking Address: Nu'uanu Pali Dr, Honolulu, HI 96817

From the airport:

  • Head east on the H1 for 4.5 miles
  • Look for the Pali Highway, Exit 21A, on the right.
  • Follow Pali Highway up to the mountain for 5.3 miles.
  • Before the tunnels that lead you to the windward side, you will see a exit for the Pali Lookout
  • Follow this road to the Pali Lookout.
  • Park in the parking lot and either pay at the automatic kiosk or show the attendant your proof of residency (Hawai‘i Driver's License or Hawai‘i State ID)
  • Parking cost $3